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Hybrid workplace models

Emmanuel Zvada

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused transient change in how our organisations are managed and led. As the whole world went into lockdown due to the highly infectious respiratory disease, a lot of companies had to experiment with a whole new work arrangement to sustain their operations. Remote working and work from home policies took effect. Nevertheless, the nature of some organisations didn’t allow for a 100% remote work policy, hence they had to strike a balance between the two thus a hybrid workplace model came into effect.

As companies begin to return to office spaces, a hybrid model may be the best way for them to do so. But blending in-office and remote workers will present some challenges that businesses need to confront. How a hybrid environment operates depends on the company, but it could include a handful of employees who are permanently on-site, or several teams who operate on staggered schedules.

What is a hybrid workplace arrangement?

A hybrid workplace is a working model that combines both office and virtual work. In other words, you will have employees working from home, office, or both. Your team may also have employees working from a co-working space. Additionally, some employees can work from home a few days each week and report to the office once a week if necessary. In this arrangement, employees can perform their tasks from the office, while occasionally doing some of their work from outside the office (mostly their homes).

In a typical hybrid workplace, some or all employees have the freedom to choose where and when they work from, dividing their time between working from home and working from the office. Hybrid work tends to involve more freedom around when and where to work from.

Why hybrid worklplaces?

Whatever way it is organised, the sole aim of a hybrid workplace is to balance the needs of workers with their ability to collaborate and be productive in a shared physical space.This model allows employers to redefine their measurement of performance. Customarily, employers want to have as many of the employees present at the office even when they are doing nothing in order to guarantee that working hours are fully utilised. Let me just pause there, do long working hours guarantee maximum perfomance? I don’t think so because some employees can produce maximum results when working from home but that depends with the company.

Reduced cost of operation

With a reduction in the number of employees at the office, employers find themselves in need of less office space. Not only can a hybrid model lead to rental cost savings, fewer office supplies are needed. The hybrid model also means that employees spend less time and money on commuting, which results in huge savings on the part of the employees. The other benefit is that with the hybrid model, it is easy to pinpoint who is directly responsible for what project. The main focus of management in a hybrid environment will be to improve productivity.

What does it take to become a hybrid workplace?

Transitioning to a hybrid workplace means rewiring your company’s processes from the inside out, making sure they work regardless of where they are. The core principles of the hybrid workplace empower employees to do their best regardless of where they are. Make sure remote colleagues feel they are getting the complete employee experience. Employees should also have access to any resources and the information they need to be effective, so make sure these are accessible and easy to reach.

Culture of trust and proper communication is key

Successful execution of the hybrid model hinges on fostering a culture of mutual trust between organisations and their employees. This works both ways, employees will not only need to put their trust in the organisation to keep them safe, but equally, they will expect to be trusted and supported and in turn manage the workload in the best way they can. Good communication channels are also key in implementing the hybrid model. As teams move to partial or even full remote context, organisations will need to step up their communication efforts to make sure they are reaching each individual employee. Organisations may need to invest more in technology to ensure that teams are able to collaborate effectively and stay connected wherever they are working from.

Embrace technology and flexible work arrangements

For a hybrid model to succeed, nobody should be left behind. A flexible workspace that responds to new strategies is an important part of the transition, and gives company leaders the peace of mind they need to make the right decisions for the employees. With a hybrid workplace model, you can downsize your office space, as not everyone will be working at the office everyday. The software that controls remote working should be used to ensure that the hybrid workplace flourishes. Take advantage of video-conferencing tools to create a level playing field between those who are working remotely and those who are in the office.

Can companies maintain company culture under the hybrid system? I think that is a really interesting question and topic for discussion in future. As we look forward to the new era of work post-COVID-19, it’s clear that the hybrid work model may be used in future by companies due to the advantages it offers which were seen during the pandemic where most workers had to work from home.

However, there are certain disadvantages to the hybrid work model and companies should be aware of the same and evaluate how to make this work best for them.

Emmanuel Zvada writes in his own capacity. He is an Award Winning Most Fabulous Global HR Practitioner 2020,HR Disrupter and Trusted Coach.  For comments inbox or call +263771467441

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