Now that the end of the pandemic is in sight, it's time to have a look at the future of work. We went from the office environment to our home offices and from chatting with co-workers at the coffee machine to pushing the stroller while attending a morning meeting.
The majority can't wait to go back to the office, but we have come to appreciate the flexibility of remote working. Most surveys point out that employees want to work in the office two to three days a week and complete the rest of their tasks at home. Briefly put, they prefer a hybrid way of working. To make it work, though, you'll need to adopt a different approach. Want to know which aspects require attention? Use this checklist!
Nearly every job comes with different types of tasks. Some are collaborative, innovative, and creative in nature. Others require focus, solitude, and productivity. Before the pandemic, it was fine to mix them up. But hybrid working requires employees to schedule meetings and collaborative jobs when they're in the office and save individual tasks for the days when they work remotely.
You might want to categorize your workforce into on-site, remote, and hybrid teams. But the major challenge is planning. What if five separate teams need to collaborate on different days? Will they be in the office from Monday till Friday? And what will you do when you need an entire department (or all the company's employees) to be in the same location, even though some people are scheduled to work from home that day? It's important to consider such questions when implementing a hybrid way of working.
The traditional office floor is bound to change. As employees will generally complete individual tasks at home, there will be less need for conventional desks in quiet rooms — which means you can rearrange the office space. And the latter will be necessary, as you'll require phone booths and collaborative meeting rooms.
Although you'll try to ensure members of the same team are in the office on the same day, there will be cross-team collaborations and meetings. That means people will organize hybrid get-togethers, with some participating in the office and others from home. To get the most out of these meetings, you need high-quality videoconferencing equipment that will make all attendees feel they're in the same room.
As an employer, you are responsible for creating a good work environment. So, if you transition to hybrid working, you should ensure a well-equipped home office. That includes a proper desk, sufficient lighting, a solid chair, and a computer. Furthermore, you should regularly check if the remote workplace is up to par.
When employees work from anywhere, your data is everywhere. How secure is your information? That depends on your users and system. To keep your data safe, you need to change your employees' mindset. They should understand that security is everyone's business. System wise, Microsoft's Zero Trust model could be helpful.
Your company culture largely determines how successful you are at hybrid working. A good starting point is to check if you meet these eight conditions for effective culture in a hybrid environment. One of them is fairness: employees should have a sense of justice. Those who are more visible to their managers are more likely to get promoted, receive a bonus, or get a raise — and that shouldn't be the case. So, you may want to train managers to identify and address bias.
Furthermore, remember that people need a sense of belonging. During the pandemic, we've held more team activities and coffee breaks to mimic in-person meetings. If you implement hybrid working, you should continue these efforts. After all, part of the workforce will still be at home, requiring personal contact.
As much as you want to embrace hybrid working, most contracts don't allow you to force people to work from home. And what to do with the reimbursement of travel expenses when employees work from home a few days a week? Are lease cars still the best option, or should you switch to 'pool' cars?
Hybrid working will likely require you to adapt agreements made. Have a close look at existing contracts as well as new rules, and make the necessary changes!