We all remember when it happened.
What seemed like a brief interruption became a seemingly endless global pandemic, and much of what we knew about work flipped upside down as millions transitioned into a hybrid work model, going entirely or partially remote.
Nearly two years later, hybrid work models are no longer seen as a necessary reaction to pandemic restrictions. In fact, they’re “here to stay,” according to Zoom’s head of MENA, Sam Tayan.
Moving On From Pandemic Problems
The beginning of the pandemic was stressful and perplexing for all of us. We had technological difficulties, isolation woes, and difficulty fitting work hours around family commitments. It should be no surprise that nearly half of participants said their first week was either difficult or very difficult when polled.
Top complaints from workers were as follows:
- Adapting to online tools
- Splitting working hours between daily routines and family commitments
- Difficulty communicating and collaborating
In response to the pandemic, many workplaces implemented a hybrid work model, which provides a range of options enabling employees to work from home and, when possible, safely from the office. Companies adopted cloud collaboration tools, video conferencing software, and new management methods as employees adapted to unfamiliar technology and developed improved ways of working independently. Work schedule flexibility from employers helped resolve family and other life-related interruptions.
Also, since many enjoyed working from home, they were highly motivated to understand the technology and practices that facilitated this arrangement.
Building a Culture of Collaboration
While it’s challenging to maintain consistency in times of great change, workplaces must pivot to keep collaboration alive in this new paradigm.
Keeping a collaborative culture alive in a hybrid setting requires understanding your team and their strengths well. Keep them engaged by ensuring they know what’s expected of them and by providing the necessary resources to do their jobs effectively, with plenty of opportunities to flex their best skills.
One-on-one weekly coaching sessions are also helpful. It doesn’t need to be formalized or structured in any way, but your employees will likely need guidance with prioritization, and the distance requires extra effort to keep them aligned with the rest of the team.
Finally, avoid the temptation to micro-manage. While many supervisors are understandably concerned about productivity, too much close monitoring can decrease trust. Flexibility and autonomy empower employees to do their best work, and a modicum of restrained oversight can help facilitate that. As such, employees should be encouraged to collaborate across teams and take advantage of opportunities to experiment and propose new ideas.
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- What COVID-19 Taught Us About Leading With More Compassion and Empathy
Developing the Future of Hybrid Work
Hybrid work is now a reality for thousands of companies. Around half of all employees — those working front-line jobs — will likely continue as is, albeit with increased flexibility in working hours and rising salaries. Another forty percent will work hybrid, with the final 10 percent working remotely.
Many of these changes will likely be permanent. One 2021 Google study revealed that over 75% of survey respondents expect hybrid work to become a standard practice within their organization within the next three years.
Ultimately, hybrid work is simply the best fit for many organizations and employees. This working arrangement manages to address many longstanding issues with both in-person and remote work, which is why the majority of workers prefer it. Chief amongst hybrid work’s many benefits are the following:
- Improved working relationships: Hybrid work provides employees enough time to themselves to recharge and enough time together to improve collaboration, communicate better, and get more creative.
- Work-life balance: Balancing home life with work is much easier. Employees can take breaks as needed and run time-sensitive errands during working hours, which research seems to show increases health and happiness.
- Good for all work styles: Remote work minimizes the distractions of a busy office for those who enjoy remote work, while those who need more structure and workplace accommodations can enjoy in-person work, too.
- Greater trust: Hybrid workplaces lessen the strain between employer and employee and foster greater self-leadership. With greater autonomy for workers and fewer management touchpoints, hybrid workplaces often see less burnout, more engagement, and reduced turnover.
We’ve Already Demonstrated a Capacity for Change
Far from being an impediment to teamwork, the hybrid work model has proven more than capable of providing unparalleled opportunities for collaboration.
From using a variety of applications to interact with colleagues to tracking performance and even allowing for interactive entertainment or team games, the tools and techniques we developed during the pandemic have established an ideal environment for future growth.