This is a guest post from RingCentral, a complete, global cloud communications and collaboration solution.
With COVID-19 vaccines becoming more readily available to a large portion of the population, many companies have started to consider returning to the office. But work in the office doesn’t look the same as it did two years ago.
Many companies are looking into hybrid workforce strategies as an alternative to office-based working.
With a hybrid workforce strategy, some of your employees would be working at the office while others would be working remotely. It’s an effective way to continue operations while limiting the number of people in the office so you can follow social distancing protocols.
However, as with any management strategy, it comes with its own set of pitfalls. Here are a few of the ones you must avoid if you plan to implement a hybrid workforce model.
Wrong hybrid workforce model
There are many different types of hybrid models, and choosing the wrong one for your company could lead to frustration among your employees. Here are some common hybrid work setups:
Shifting - Employees take turns reporting to the office and working remotely.
Occasional - Employees work primarily remotely, but report to the office on certain days, usually once a week or twice a month.
Partial - A portion of your employees will be working remote permanently while the rest will report at the office.
As you can see, you can arrange your hybrid workforce in a number of ways. However, certain models work best for certain teams. For example, if your team is capable of operating 100% remotely, it doesn't make sense to implement a model that would require employees to report to the office for no reason. An occasional model would be enough for regular face-to-face interactions with your team (if it’s needed).
On the other hand, maintenance teams can be a good fit for shifting or partial models. Many of these teams need to report back to a central office, so it’s an easy transition for them. Evaluate your teams to figure out which model works best with which team.
Inadequate work conditions
Providing adequate work conditions for an on-premise workforce is quite straightforward since everyone is mostly using the same resources. However, with a hybrid workforce, you also have to take into consideration the work conditions of your remote employees. You can’t assume that all your employees will be able to acquire the same tools as everybody else, much less guarantee the same quality of equipment.
So as an employer, what should you do to avoid unequal work conditions? There are many factors that can affect an employee's conditions; but here are the three you’ll want to keep an eye out for:
Work tools - From hardware to software, employers have the responsibility to provide employees with the tools they need to do their jobs. This doesn't just include things such as laptops or phones. It could also mean acquiring new licenses for cloud software such as office suites, video conferencing tools, etc.
Workspace - Not all of your employees have a space that could be conducive to working. To work around this, you could offer additional benefits (such as food and clothing allowances or performance incentives) to people working remotely.
Connectivity - Employees have different Internet providers at home. So, it's important to ensure that everyone is able to connect easily in order to prevent possible work disruptions. Have a conversation with your team to find out if any of them needs additional assistance when it comes to connectivity.
Because a hybrid workforce has employees that work remotely and office-based simultaneously, it's important to be aware of how imbalance can occur in either situation. Assess what affects work-life balance when your employees are working remotely or office-based and find solutions to work around it. To optimize the work-life balance of your hybrid team, here are some steps you could take:
If you're working with a shifting or occasional hybrid model, find out how much commute affects employees' work-life balance and try to arrange your office schedules in ways that can limit your team's travel time. For example, if your team prefers to go to the office during weekends to avoid possible traffic, you can adjust your work week to include Saturdays instead of Mondays to make it more convenient for them.
For partial hybrid models, take the initiative to host social events to keep both your remote and office teams connected.
Have a conversation with your team and be open to their working preferences. Some employees don't like working remotely while others are the exact opposite. If you can cater to their preferences, absolutely offer them that option.
Do not overstep boundaries. Whatever your work model is, it's important to respect your employees' work hours and not demand their attention 24/7.
Disruption of operations
Adjusting to a new work environment can lead to some level of disruption in everyday operations. You won't have the benefit of constant, consistent in-person communication across the board with a hybrid workforce.
One good way to combat this is to set up a work routine that would help everyone stay on the same page. Some methods you could explore include:
Regular alignment meetings
Start-of-day and end-of-day reports
Task progress status at regular intervals
Task management tools for tracking progress
In the beginning, there will certainly be some growing pains. But, as your team gets used to the new routine they will become efficient again. Also, be open to any suggestions your team may have to optimize your operations. As they adjust to a hybrid work model, they will surely come across issues and try to find solutions themselves.
If the pandemic has taught us anything, it's that most employees can be just as efficient, if not more so, working remotely. With that knowledge, it's no surprise that the interest in hybrid work is starting to increase. A hybrid work model can definitely bring a lot of benefits to both the company and its employees.
Don't be deterred by the pitfalls listed above. If you ever do implement a hybrid work model, you might come across them—but don’t worry, you can definitely overcome them. There is more to gain by trying out a hybrid work model than sticking to the traditional office model. Just make sure you listen to the needs of your teams and employees so that everyone in your company is happy with their new work environment.