Every professional is familiar with the impact the pandemic has had on workplace culture and the way in which organisations function.
Whilst COVID-19 did not give rise to the hybrid work model, it did propel its growth on a massive scale. Many businesses employed variations of the remote working model throughout the pandemic, but as businesses move into the post-pandemic era and look for long term solutions, the advantages of remote, or partially remote workplace environments are leading many to adopt permanent hybrid models in their organisations.
What exactly is hybrid-working?
A hybrid workplace refers to a work environment that combines working from home with working in the office and is evolving how companies manage business operations, employees, and the client experience. It may refer to a model where some employees work permanently in the office, whilst others are remote. Usually however, it is used to describe organisations in which virtually all employees split their time between remote and in-office working.
Employing this model?
There are many advantages to the hybrid model, sometimes known as ‘flexible working’, including increased freedoms and reduced costs. It has proven to improve efficiency and therefore it is little surprise that many businesses are implementing it more long-term. Like everything, it also comes with challenges. These can create employee dissatisfaction that businesses must tackle.
The Poly Evolution of the Workplace Report 2021, which polled 2,003 UK hybrid workers, found that 46 percent were worried that working remotely could impact their career development and progression. Meanwhile, 54 per cent said they were concerned they would miss out on ad hoc learning and development opportunities, including learning from peers and seniors, while working from home. On the other hand, a study by RADA Business found that 45% of professionals are very interested in permanently working-from-home.
There is an evident divide amongst professionals, as many now hope to work from home permanently, whilst others are keen to return to the office full-time. The hybrid model can be utilised as a way to try and balance the different preferences on workplace models.
Having employed the model, many organisation leaders now find themselves managing a new environment, and many managers are now required to help staff navigate the hybrid workplace whilst still ensuring high levels of efficiency.
Below are some tips to help business leaders manage the hybrid workplace in a manner that seeks to boost employee satisfaction.
- Implement New Policies. It should go without saying that a new working environment calls for a review of existing policies and the implementation of new ones. As employees are working in different ways to one another, it’s crucial to have policies that do not favour one group more than the others. These policies should consider factors such as: how roles are assessed and reviewed; how timekeeping is monitored; and how decisions are made and communicated. As both methods of work may be monitored differently, unfair biases can develop if there is not an effective system in place. Biases can also promote career progression for some ahead of others.
- Provide Tools. Employers must have a reliable and comprehensive online system in place which ensures all employees can successfully complete their job requirements. With hybrid teams, it’s crucial that your system allows both remote and in-person employees to collaborate with one another. Effective project-management tools are therefore crucial. Wholly in-person collaboration is generally easy, and when everyone is remote it can be straightforward too, but when employees are split across the two, they must all be able to communicate effectively. This may mean some meetings are carried out online, even for employees who are in the office and sat beside one another.
- Invest in Training and Upskilling. As mentioned, 46% of hybrid workers surveyed felt they were missing out on career progression. One way that businesses can tackle this concern is by offering more training resources beyond core training around job performance and legal compliance. By offering a comprehensive range of courses and resources to employees, be that through E-Learning tools, classroom courses, or digital classroom training, a message is sent to employees that their progression is valued by their business. These resources, which may not directly affect their day-to-day job role, equip them with new tools and skills which not only promote job satisfaction but create more rounded employees with advanced skillsets.
- Recognise the Importance of Line Managers. Modern leadership is about having the skills to unlock the power and potential of those around you. It’s about bringing people together to achieve great results, but also involves conflict management, support and accountability. Managers play a key part in employee satisfaction and investing in your line managers is crucial to ensure happy employees. Hybrid environments offer new challenges to managers as they must adjust themselves whilst simultaneously supporting entire teams. Offering your managers support, as well as comprehensive training in communication, conflict management and other leadership skills will directly impact satisfaction.
- Encourage Social Interaction. Team building is perhaps more important than ever in a hybrid working environment. Social connectivity among employees helps them work together more productively, something that can be difficult during hybrid working if not managed correctly. It also helps to encourage positive company culture, which directly supports employee satisfaction and wellbeing.
- Support Wellbeing. Finally, an indirect way for businesses to tackle these employee concerns is to offer comprehensive wellbeing support. This includes but is not limited to mental health support and access to professionals, manager support and healthy communication channels within teams and to superiors.
Ultimately, hybrid working offers a number of benefits including increased employee freedoms, improved wellbeing, lowered costs, and less time commuting. When successfully managed and monitored, hybrid workplaces can be incredibly efficient and ensure satisfied employees.
Trainer Bubble offers many resources that support all of the above tips. Not only does our catalogue offer a huge variety of resources to support tip 3, but we also offer resources in manager training, team building, and wellbeing. Check out the courses linked below or explore our website for the full variety of offerings.