What is a hybrid workplace and how to implement it successfully
Depending upon the needs of the company, a hybrid workplace might have employees swapping in and out every couple of weeks, or employees may come to the office only to attend face-to-face meetings. A recent survey by Wakefield Research shows that almost 47% of employees would look for a job change if their employer doesn’t adopt a flexible working model.
Ever since the pandemic struck last year, companies have been forced to rethink having a physical workplace. Employees’ priorities have changed and a lot of them are reluctant to return to the office. Irrespective of the success of the hybrid model, one thing is clear: 9-to-5 jobs are slowly but surely becoming a relic of the past. Employees are keen to avoid peak-hour commutes and they want to spend more time with family and friends. They also want to choose the job location and timings.
The hybrid model offers a lot of scope for companies to save costs and attract new talent without worrying about geographical constraints. In the last couple of years, companies have seen the hybrid model having a positive impact on the employees’ satisfaction and productivity. The hybrid model will definitely benefit you, provided you have the right people, processes, and technology to adopt and implement it successfully.
Here are 8 ways how you can go about implementing a successful hybrid workplace.
1. Find out what your employees want
Every work environment is different and there is no one-size-fits-all. So, interact with your employees to find out what they think about the hybrid model. You can probably try to send out a survey with appropriate questions to gauge their sentiment about the hybrid model. Involving your employees and getting to know their preferences, interests and difficulties, will give you an idea as to how to go about implementing a hybrid model that works best for you and your employees.
2. Decide work schedules
Once you get an idea about what your employees feel about hybrid workplace, create work schedules to manage workplace traffic. There will be some employees who need to come to the office every day and some will be required to come a few days a week while others can work from home forever. According to PwC research, 68% of executives believe employees must work from the office at least three days a week to retain company culture. But over 55% of employees prefer working remotely at least three days a week. So, every company should decide their work schedules based on what work’s best for them.
3. Gather employees’ feedback
Once you implement a hybrid workplace and decide work schedules, take regular feedback from your employees. There have been many instances where hybrid workplaces have failed miserably. Collecting the feedback regularly, iterating and integrating the best practices will help you to build a hybrid workplace that thrives.
4. Build the right infrastructure
During the pandemic, many employees were using their personal devices to access official applications and data for the first time. The opposite of which is also true: they were using their work devices to access personal information. In this given scenario, companies must be careful about some personal devices posing potential security threats. Companies that are embarking on a hybrid workplace should invest in a virtualized digital workspace that secures and protects data applications and data on any device, on any network from anywhere with uncompromising security. Security architecture like VMware-powered digital workspace can build trust for remote and hybrid employees.
5. Right software
In a hybrid work environment, employees will need access to the same software at both homes and work. Companies must ensure that the workplace applications are available for remote employees as well to make a seamless transition from remote to on-site work and vice versa. Apart from accessing their usual work applications, they need access to collaboration tools for business that come with audio calling, document sharing, screen sharing, group chat, social media integration etc to be able to connect and work together in real-time.
6. Right hardware
In a hybrid work model, having the right hardware tools is crucial to be more productive and effective. When the lockdown was imposed all of a sudden last year, many of us were clueless and unprepared. Some of your employees left their work devices tat the office and ended up using their personal laptops, desktops or smartphones to carry out work tasks, posing a great security threat. Companies must help their employees get the right hardware like a powerful laptop, a super-secure smartphone, wireless mouse, high-quality headset, webcam etc so that they can carry out their job effectively from home.
7. Treat employees equally
In a hybrid model, since there are employees working from the office as well as home, in-office employees should not be given preferential treatment or perks when compared with their counterparts who work from elsewhere. Managers should not assume that employees who are seen in the office more work harder than remote employees whom they hardly ever meet. It is quite natural that in-office employees may get rewarded for their work while their colleagues who work from home may be overlooked. Companies must make sure that even their remote employees are recognized and rewarded for the work they put in.
8. Data security
Cybersecurity is a growing concern for companies that are planning to adopt a hybrid model. When employees work remotely, there are more chances of hacking private, sensitive, or confidential information that can result in losses, lawsuits, or bad publicity. According to a report, post-pandemic, 89% of CIOs shifted priorities to cybersecurity because cybercrimes increased 600% in the last year. While threats like phishing to malware have always been there, hybrid work made it worse. Moving forward companies should bolster security spending to protect application and data integrity.
Post pandemic, though a vast majority of the workforce is expected to return to office in the coming months, companies might still prefer a hybrid work model due to the cost factor attached to it. It is estimated that companies can still save around 50% of their infrastructure cost by migrating to a hybrid working environment. While employees are supporting it overwhelmingly due to the work-life balance it brings; increased productivity and the opportunity to engage a highly-talented border-less workforce are some of the benefits that companies are eyeing. Please share your thoughts and experience on how the hybrid model has impacted your work life.