The events of 2020 have certainly brought about new challenges, with the COVID-19 pandemic being just one of them. However, it’s safe to say that it has brought us opportunities as well, most of them in the workplace. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the rules of the game and that meant staying at home for most, if not everyone. This introduced new work models to employees, each with its own benefits and setbacks, as well as new demands for team leaders and employers. Introducing, the hybrid work setup.
An employee-centered approach
Never before has there been such a decisively employee-centered work model at such a grand scale and never before have the benefits of such a model been so clearly presented to us. A hybrid work model is not just a choice between workplace A and workplace B – it is a whole ecosystem comprised of well-coordinated co-workers, each with the benefit of organizing their day as they see fit and choosing the type of workplace they believe allows them to achieve maximum productivity according to the tasks assigned to them. Here are some of the hybrid work models available.
Flexible hybrid work model
This model allows the employees full flexibility and they get to choose where they want to work, what assignments are at the top of the day’s priorities, and what kind of interaction with their co-workers they want or do not want. While essentially adapting the work to the worker and allowing for an increase in employee loyalty, trust and well-being, the flexible model is not perfect. Its challenges include finding a day suitable for employees to meet in person and the coordination of such a flexible team.
Fixed hybrid work model
The fixed hybrid work model allows for the use of both home-based and office-based work while maintaining set rules and guidelines. As an example, let’s say team A works from the office on Mondays, and team B works from the office on Fridays. With this model, we gain easier coordination with a pre-determined timetable while maintaining flexibility. However, the potential cost of this work model is employee satisfaction due to a lack of individual choice.
Office-based hybrid work model
This model retains the benefits of choice and the benefits of a set timetable. The employees are expected to spend most of their workdays in the office but also get to choose a set number of days which they would prefer to spend working from home.
Remote-based hybrid work model
With this model, the majority of time is spent working remotely while employees are expected to use the office on occasions such as training, team-building, and collaborations that require personal presence.
How do we make it work?
While potential employees pushed the possibility of hybrid work as a new criterion for the attractiveness of a company, managers have had difficulty in making the model work for them. To managers, some of the issues are familiar, whereas some are decidedly new. An “us versus them” mentality and keeping the coordination and communication steady are challenges all too familiar to any team leader, but having to adapt not just to the team but the individual members as well is not something everyone was used to before pandemic and the subsequent health crisis. However, it’s clear that the hybrid work model is here to stay so adapting to these new challenges is what any leader will do.
Develop clear guidelines of engagement and stick to them
Setting clear guidelines and rituals meant to facilitate effective coordination of a team is a top priority for any project management team. Be disciplined about check-in practices and clear about which questions don’t need a meeting to be answered.
Provide the tools
To adapt to this new model, providing the tools which help your team stay organized is going to be essential. Whether it’s a laptop in the office so those working remotely can stay updated or a camera to help them share their notes with those in the office, it’s the manager’s job to enable it.
Be a facilitator
Facilitating effective communication and coordination of a team is an even bigger challenge in the hybrid model, requiring the team leaders to not just pay attention to those in the office but to those working remotely as well. Pay attention to what they might have missed and proactively clarify what’s happening in the office.
Focus on company culture
Remote employees might feel that they are being left out, which could affect their productivity. It’s the manager’s job to make them feel accepted and included, through propagating company culture and inclusive practices, or simply taking a few minutes for a short video call to check up on co-workers and see how they are doing.
Finally, plan flexibly
Flexibility is a key component of the hybrid work model and making flexible plans for the future so that they can seamlessly adapt to any changes to the workplace, whether office or home-based, is going to pay dividends in the long run.