April 08, 2021
The future is hybrid
Why the workplace of the future is hybrid – and how your organization adapts to it
One year ago, going to work used to be exactly that: leaving our homes early for meetings at the office, watercooler conversations, and colleagues typing away on their keyboards. Then, from one day to the next, going to work meant getting out of bed, grabbing a chair and starting our remote workday. With the emergence of the pandemic, working from home has become our new normal. And it has brought both new advantages and challenges to the way we work.
Surveys* show how flexibility, work/life balance and job satisfaction has gone up while we’ve been working from home. However, more than half of the respondents feel less connected with their colleagues, motivation has dropped significantly, and the months of isolation have been hard on our mental health.
A year in, organizations are starting to realize that they will have to adapt to this new normal, if they want to survive – and thrive – post-pandemic. Opening up the office and letting everyone come back in might sound like a return to what we know works, but is, in many cases, simply not possible anymore. Cutting back on costs by keeping everyone working from home might be tempting, but will damage the organization and its employees’ wellbeing in the long run.
Some employees will be much more productive – and much more comfortable – working from home. Others will be aching to get back to their routines and colleagues at the office. One size does not fit all – and many factors need to be considered such as specialized roles where tasks can be complicated to do at home or other projects where team collaboaration is needed. Your organization will get the most out of supporting employees to be productive from where ever they need to work by offering a stable framework for collaboration. This solution is called the Hybrid Workplace.
The Hybrid Workplace is a business model that combines office work as we know it with remote working, seeing both the physical office location and various remote workstations as one hybrid organization
Being aware of the challenges
Managing the Hybrid Workplace is a complex task. It can be difficult to coordinate everyone's schedules and manage teamwork and tasks across space and time.
Further, all employees, both the ones at home and the ones at the physical office, need to have access to office facilities. This doesn’t just include office furniture, computers and phones, but also information, stable connections and collaboration solutions such as meeting software.
The power balance among employees can easily be skewed if only the ones coming in to work at the office have access to important information and acknowledgements from their seniors.
Much of what is going on at a workplace is anchored in social situations. And since a strong work culture is reflective on employees' wellbeing and productivity, it’s in everyone's interest to keep the culture thriving. However, with a big part of the employees working from home, there’s a danger that work-related tasks will steal the focus, weakening the culture and employee wellbeing.
The advantages of going hybrid
Time and space are no longer defining the limits of your organization. Employees can work from anywhere if the right technical support for collaboration is in place. This can both contribute to increased diversity in your teams and flexible work hours due to people working in different time zones.
With part of the employees working from home, your organization will need to shift your focus from hour-based work weeks to result-based ones, which means greater flexibility and possibly building a stronger sense of ownership and confidence among employees.
With fewer people coming into the physical office, operational costs will go down. It’s likely that your organization won’t need as much space as before, lending the opportunity to rethink your budget and invest in future-proof solutions.
Adapting to the future
The pandemic has changed not only the way we work, but also the way our workplaces work. To be successful in transforming your organization into a Hybrid Workplace you need to make complexity your strength. Your organization will need to consider both physical equipment, technology, and a whole new approach to your work culture:
Trust the technology
More than ever before, your office will benefit from investing in office facilities to provide a sustainable workplace environment for employees to work within. Being able to collaborate across time zones and space will be the glue that keeps the company together. Also, those who return to work at the office will need to know they can do so safely. Here, the right technology can help monitor the use of spaces and facilities, supporting a soft landing.
Make your culture the core
With fewer people in the office the space can be used more flexible: make the office a culture hub for informal learning and knowledge exchange. Employees who prefer working from home should on a regular basis go to the office, ensuring they take part of the social activities which are vital for the office culture. Remember to facilitate a good online culture as well, prioritizing the mental health and wellbeing of all employees, remote or not.
COVID-19 has turned our lives upside down in many ways, and we’ve seen how quickly organizations have adapted to these new ways of living and working. While the pandemic is still looming we have an open window to redesign the workplace culture and the frameworks we work within, future-proofing our workplaces and creating the optimal conditions for a hybrid future.