Fully remote and hybrid workplaces have undergone a large-scale, global stress test due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Though a global health crisis this isn’t exactly what we would have chosen to learn more about what does and doesn’t work in hybrid and remote environments, the data that this period has provided is invaluable in helping us understand how to establish successful partially and totally remote workplaces on a long-term basis.
As you work to pinpoint the right permanent hybrid work model for your company, keep these learnings in mind. Here are the top 7 trends in hybrid work.
1. Balance, Communication, and Trust
One of the most common obstacles to enabling hybrid and remote workplaces has long been concerns about how and whether work will get done when employees are out of sight. We know accountability is essential and that communication is what makes that accountability happen.
But as your workplace shifts to a more remote footing, don’t overlook the importance of trust.
Gains in employee satisfaction brought on by the flexibility afforded by hybrid workplaces can quickly be erased if employees are required to be on camera continuously for their entire workday or have to ask permission to leave their virtual desks for things like bathroom breaks or lunch.
The most successful hybrid workplace is all about mutual respect, finding new ways to connect, and implementing new strategies to evaluate employee and team performance.
2. Having the right physical environment matters…
Every hybrid office is different. At some, all employees will spend some of their work time remotely and some of it on-site. At others, some employees may do all their work on-site, while others are nearly 100% remote.
Making sure you have the right physical space that can accommodate daily on-site staff and visitors is an obvious need, especially when flexible in-office time means that some colleagues may be sharing desks and technology.
Similarly, your organization has a lot to gain from caring about the office set-ups of remote workers. The pandemic showed us that finding a quiet space for a home office isn’t always easy, especially in cities where rents and housing costs are high.
Support your company can offer employees in setting up and funding a comfortable, efficient remote workplace (e.g., standing desks, ergonomic chairs) can go a long way towards making them feel a part of the team.
3. … so does having the right virtual environment
Planning your virtual workspaces–where both on-site and remote employees will meet, create, problem-solve, and innovate–requires just as much attention to detail as your on-site physical plant. You need virtual solutions that meet the many needs of your employees and their work days.
These include, but aren’t limited to:
- virtual meeting rooms
- digital whiteboards and other collaboration tools
- a media repository of institutional knowledge
- a chat environment for casually reaching out to other employees
- on-demand training resources
- compliance verification checks
- and a way for c-level executives to bring the whole organization together for regular updates and important news.
If this sounds like a lot, that’s because it is. The good news, however, is that there are easy–to–implement solutions for these needs.
4. Authenticity increases employee satisfaction and productivity
Our collective mass experiment in remote and hybrid work has also gone a long way towards encouraging organizations to embrace the reality that today’s workplace–and its boundaries–are different. While the conventional wisdom was once that it should never be apparent when someone is working from a non-traditional off-site location, work during the pandemic was rife with interruptions by kids, pets, grocery deliveries, and the complexities of how we live now.
And while this wasn’t always ideal, we did get used to being aware of–and having compassion for–the lives of our colleagues beyond the workplace. Embracing authenticity from our coworkers both on-site and remote is one of the most essential trends the future of work is offering. And this doesn’t just mean saying hello to the occasional visiting pet during a virtual meeting.
The pandemic has served to shift many people’s perceptions of what work-life balance should look like, and the expectations for compassion and flexibility from corporations has shifted along with those perceptions. Providing a flexible, hybrid working environment is just the beginning of responding to this change in perspective.
Diversity and inclusion efforts that welcome and acknowledge all employees and their lived experiences are key. So is support and understanding around employees’ family responsibilities. Employers that demonstrate more support for these realities will, in return, receive more loyalty and productivity from their workers.
5. Leveraging asynchrony
While creating the right virtual environment for your company helps keeps hybrid and remote employees connected in real-time, asynchronous communication is one of the great underreported benefits of going hybrid.
Employees who have the flexibility of remote work will often choose some working hours that are outside of the traditional ones in their location. Additionally, hybrid and remote environments mean more employees in other time zones – at least some of the time.
While there’s huge benefit in bringing remote and hybrid employees together virtually when it makes sense, the asynchronous nature of the changing workplace confers a significant competitive advantage. With hybrid and remote work your company can be productive on a continuous 24-hour cycle, often without requiring shiftwork.
If you’re embracing hybrid work and remote positioning, make sure to strategize your communications and technology solutions, based on the benefits of both synchronous and asynchronous workflows.
6. Accountability and metrics help demonstrate results
Some of the accountability required in a virtual or hybrid workplace is going to be human-led, and relies on creating a culture that values honesty and flagging concerns before problems arise. But effective virtual work environments also come with a range of metrics that can help you stay on task, keep organized, and evaluate and encourage employee engagement.
Metrics and data are a central part of the hybrid and remote-positioned company, not because they allow you to check up on your employees, but because they can help you see where there may be bottlenecks and where your staff may need more support. Data is often the first step in helping your employees excel so your organization can thrive.
7. A hybrid workplace also expands your access to talent
Making a permanent shift to a hybrid or remote-positioned workplace isn’t just about the employees you have today. Hybrid workplaces have a significant recruitment advantage compared to traditional 100% on-site offices.
This goes beyond being competitive for top talent. It also allows you to consider workers you might not have had access to in the past. These include employees outside of the immediate geographic area of your in-person offices and employees with a wealth of talent who cannot easily access a traditional physical workplace.
The diversity of skills and knowledge these employees bring to the table is not to be ignored, but actively recruiting them is often only possible if you make the shift to hybrid and remote positioning.
Ready to learn more about making the hybrid workplace work for you?