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Hybrid workplace is the hottest 2020 trend: Here’s how to embrace it.

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Let’s accept it. Hybrid workplace model is here to stay, until the world returns to 100% safety. The biggest remote work experiment forced by the pandemic has shown us that. Chief people officer of e-commerce giant, Flip-kart, announced recently that the company is all set to adopt a hybrid workplace model that will blend remote work and office. In simple terms, what this means is employees can come to the office when there’s an important meeting or a celebration, and work from wherever they are the rest of the time.

We believe this is the hottest workplace trends of 2020 – of the post COVID-19 world which has shown us that remote working is possible, even though offices are not completely replaceable. Even traditional IT strongholds such as Infosys and Tech Mahindra now go by the demands of a project and client, to decide who needs to be physically present in the office. At the 39th Infosys AGM, UB Pravin Rao informed, “We are looking at a model, where some of our employees will continue to work from home and others from office.”

A Hybrid workplace: What does it even mean?

It is a workplace that believes different employees work differently and at different pace, and so, confining them all to a single work environment is not conducive to productivity. Employees are managed differently and are given the choice to work in a manner that’s best suited to their creativity and productivity.

Does it change the office dynamics?

But natural. Work, and employees, are now further separated. Earlier, a company only had to worry about aligning different departments towards the same goal. Now, apart from re-imagining the entire office space, even the management style must adapt to monitoring and answering the needs of employees who are

•     Working full time

•     Working flexible hours

•     Working from home

•     Remote connected

This completely changes office dynamics. Managing hybrid teams is not possible without the right tech and IT backup, and the availability of other necessary resources. Employee monitoring metrics need to change from measuring physical presence in the office to checking productivity in the form of deadlines met and targets achieved, no matter from where. Software, hardware, safe messaging apps, video conferencing platforms, data and information sharing, all need to be reconfigured to make the hybrid workplace model work.

Adopt smart technologies that support a combination of virtual and physical work and can also monitor each employee’s flexibility in work and timings. Connectivity among employees is another key issue. A BCG survey found that 51% employees were happy with a hybrid workplace that was wired for connectivity. “It turns out that social connectivity is a critical element of what enables us to be productive when collaborating in the workplace,” commented Debbie Lovich, MD, BCG, in a blog on their company’s website.

What about employee wellness?

Everyone is prioritizing their health and it will be foolish for companies not to place it high on its agenda as it transitions to a hybrid workplace model. This can only happen, when employee well-being is a priority in the boardroom, and the culture permeates top down. For example, Google, Facebook and American cloud-based software giant Salesforce, has allowed its employees to work from home till August 2021. Salesforce will offer its employees $250 to buy tools and equipment to enable easy work from home. In this time of strife and stress, Salesforce, prioritizing employee well-being, has also increased the duration of family care leave. Salesforce employees can now avail an additional six-weeks paid leave.

Initiatives like this assure the employees that it’s okay to not be physically present in office. Unless they’re assured working from home will also avail them all the perks of working, this model will fall flat. No one should feel compelled to be at work all the time, to get that next recognition or promotion.

The open space offices which became popular over the last decade dissolved the office cabin boundaries and a rigid office environment allowing for employees across ranks and verticals to work and grow together. The next leap has to be in the mindset of leaders at every level who trust their employees and judge them solely on the outcomes. Not on the hours spent on zoom calls! Ask a young parent, how hard it is to work from home, manage chores and children. Empathy, understanding, counselling support, enabling infrastructure support like a home workstation, are all small and big things which corporate will need to focus on.

 Should office designs be changed?

Of course. It’s a new normal and unless organisations put their heads together to replan office spaces, the hybrid workplace model isn’t a complete success. Offices need to be replanned in such a way that separate sections are created for specific functions only – say a confidential meeting room, washroom, etc. What’s needed are far more flexible spaces furnished to move around, with changing workplace needs. Airy, sunny spaces with loads of greenery fitted into a merging landscape across the floor will work well. Bottomline on design, intelligently using outdoor spaces within buildings or offices, ample ventilation and social distancing, biophilic green spaces, are all a necessity not a luxury anymore.

Blended workspace: A win-win solution

Many studies have shown how organizations that allow flexible work, foster higher employee engagement and satisfaction. In an interview with BW Hotelier, Dinesh Ramamurthi, Chief Human Resources Officer, OYO Hotels & Homes, admitted that they are going hybrid for a reason. “With the changes in the working environment, the current situation is a testament that employee efficiency is greater than actual physical presence.” While going completely remote has been demoralizing for some workers, and being called to office perceived as being callous to employee welfare by others, hybrid workplace has forged the perfect middle-path for many organizations that are getting back to business amidst a still raging novel corona virus situation.

Blended workspaces have not only ensured that employees remain happy and peak in productivity, they have also helped companies cut down on unnecessary overheads, and costs such as paying conveyance to their employees.

In conclusion, while managing a hybrid team comes with its own set of challenges, it is the future of work culture across the world. It is a solution that benefits the worker and employer in the long run. So, build a hybrid team culture and help your team adapt to modern technology to create a shared workplace today, and you’ll naturally foster growth mindset.

 Also read

1. Salesforce Joins Google And Facebook In Extending Work From Home Through Next Summer https://www.forbes.com/sites/jackkelly/2020/08/21/salesforce-joins-google-and-facebook-in-extending-work-from-home-to-next-summer/#325c1cff377d

2.  Home and away: The new workplace hybrid? https://www.jll.co.in/en/trends-and-insights/research/home-and-away-employee-survey

3.  100 per cent of OYO workforce working under hybrid model: https://www.timesnownews.com/business-economy/companies/article/100-per-cent-of-oyo-workforce-working-under-hybrid-model/625374 

4. The future of work is hybrid: Work from home and the workplace: https://www.zdnet.com/article/future-of-work-hybrid-home-and-workplace/

5. Infosys to adapt a hybrid workplace model: https://sightsinplus.com/news/jobs-news/infosys-to-adapt-a-hybrid-workplace-model/

  6. Tips to manage schedules for remote and distributed teams: https://www.owllabs.com/blog/manage-schedules

7. Remote workers are more productive – Study: https://www.businessnewsdaily.com/15259-working-from-home-more-productive.html

Posted by: Ashwini Sharma

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