Working from home was and still is a huge adjustment for many of us. But, as we are ushering in the new normal, we can’t help but have conflicting feelings toward going back to the office. Many of us realize that work from home (WFH) afforded us lots of benefits, more time for ourselves and our families, to name one, due to no longer having to prepare to go out and commute. Since implementing work-from-home schemes, companies have seen an overall increase in focus and productivity among their staff and reduced operational expenses.
Interestingly, the majority of these WFH employees can see themselves doing so for the long term and would rather work in the said setup permanently, again, for the newfound productivity and convenience it offers. At the same time, others are also open to alternating home and office work, though. This leaves the opinion of the companies, most of them wanting their people back in the office, out of the question. For the two parties to meet halfway, though, is the rising demand for a hybrid work setup.
A hybrid work setup means having part of the workforce report in-person while the other from home. Depending on the company, a hybrid work setup could also mean flexible arrangements, wherein each worker works remotely part of the time and in the office for the rest. Some would even give employees the liberty to choose their working hours, within which they are most productive.
It’s only sensible to institute such a work model because having everyone over would not be safe, at least for now when there is a highly contagious virus around. Moreover, the pandemic and consequent physical distance between team members having established that physical presence has nothing to do with the employee’s capabilities in delivering his job.
With that, managers are now looking at talent recruitment with a fresher lens, one that’s more receptive to the idea of employing remote workers, which only makes a hybrid setup more relevant. If hybrid work does become the norm, this sets up companies for a whole deal of adjustments, just some of the most imperative ones are:
While the pandemic might have cost you so much on lease on your office that you were only barely able to use, you can’t just downsize your space if you’re transitioning to a hybrid setup. Remember, social distancing is still required, so you’d rather ensure that all employees reporting in-person have a spacious metal desk. If these employees work in different shifts, you can implement a non-reservation-based office setup, wherein multiple employees can use the same workspace but at different times.
Also, revisit the security of your network. Having allowed your employees to use their devices and Wi-Fi to work might have caused any breaches. Consider issuing them pre-configured devices. Have IT personnel always on stand-by to troubleshoot any connectivity and technical concern. Also, mechanisms to regulate entry to the company’s portals and potent firewalls and anti-malware systems must be in place.
Don’t let the physical distance ruin your team dynamics. Rather, maximize the collaborative features of available online communication and project management applications. For example, fill in those who weren’t able to attend unscheduled meetings by providing them online a rundown of the discussion. To keep remote workers from feeling isolated or less-favored, you can also have everyone participate in meetings through their respective computers.
And, as some may not work uniform hours as everybody else, get used to not expecting them to instantly reply to any communication. You would rather have them perform the tasks as you instructed in the correspondence and encourage them to provide updates on a set schedule or with the help of the project management system your team is using. To further build that sense of community virtually, open non-work-related threads and discuss common interests outside of work.
You can keep your annual employee benefits such as medical, transportation, and meal allowances, but keep in mind that times have changed. So make their benefits not only more appropriate with the current circumstances but also accessible online. For instance, send them shopping coupons to accredited retailers or food stops. You can also cover their subscriptions to online courses.
The pandemic might have unloaded you of physically tending to your employees, but in reality, you have to keep them motivated. A good hybrid work setup keeps talent and encourages new ones to come in. Preparing your workplace for the new normal is tedious, but it pays off in the long run.