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Even after the pandemic restrictions are completely lifted, it’s unlikely that we will return to the old normal. The future could be hybrid work, a blend of on-site and remote work.
Before we get to the best practices for hybrid work, it’s good to understand why it’s here to stay. Put simply, working in a hybrid format increases productivity and reduces expenses.
More than 75 per cent of employees who work remotely a few times a month were found to be more productive.
Organisations lose close to $600 billion to workplace distractions every year.
Remote work saves close to $11,000 per employee per year for organisations.
More than 80 per cent of employees would like to work remotely at least once a week.
So, how can small businesses successfully embrace hybrid work? By avoiding these common mistakes.
In the age of the Great Resignation, it’s tempting to think that offering higher compensation will prevent employees from leaving. While this is indeed a good thing from an employee’s point of view, this won’t be enough.
How to get it right: Increasingly, employees are seeking a holistic culture that values and inspires them. To get hybrid work right, businesses should think of enabling employees to grow and give them the right resources for that.
If you look at the research findings above, you’ll notice that many employees don’t want to work from home full-time. They still want face-to-face interactions and the socialising opportunities that an office provides.
How to get it right: Talk to the employees and work out a schedule that will benefit them and their teams. Don’t brand anyone as a “full-time remote” employee. More than anything else, be open to employee suggestions as the situation evolves.
Just because you have to listen to the employees and give them freedom doesn’t mean that it should be unlimited. If everyone has complete autonomy to schedule their work, setting up meetings and coordinating between team members would be extraordinarily difficult.
How to get it right: Set broad guidelines on how many days employees should be in the office, when teams should be together and what part of their tasks they can handle remotely and in person.
Employees would need to adjust to the reality of hybrid work. The daily commute alone can be challenging for many employees. Similarly, the structure and constraints of the office as opposed to the freedom of a workspace at home can be confusing for many.
How to get it right: To begin with, be empathetic. Communicate clearly to all employees and make sure that hybrid work starts in phases. If need be, hold events in the office to acclimatise people to the new conditions.
‘Zoom’ became a verb during the pandemic. It was a difficult transition but people eventually got used to fully remote offices and meetings. But meetings in hybrid work will throw up a different set of challenges. Those attending in person may have an edge over the remote participants.
How to get it right: Allow us to introduce the concept of ‘meeting equity’. It simply means that all participants in a meeting should have equal access, visibility and say in the proceedings. Use the right video conferencing technology to ensure that remote participants can be seen and heard and engage with others on an equal footing.
One of the biggest mistakes that businesses make when shifting to hybrid work is to have a set of rigid rules. Since they’re under pressure not to lose productivity, they believe rolling out mandatory guidelines will do the trick. But this can easily backfire and impact the office culture.
How to get it right: Understand that everyone’s adapting and learning. There will be certain unavoidable hiccups that will tell you what has to be improved. Don’t have any preconceived notions about what will and won’t work.
Smart managers know that it’s unwise to use a personal phone for work. But the solution isn’t to arbitrarily let employees use their personal devices (BYOD) for work-related communication. The right answer is Chalkboard – a solution designed for the challenges of remote work.
With this second line for work, you can seamlessly manage communication between both on-site and remote employees. You can easily route calls to remotely placed employees and set auto-reply for when you can’t take calls.
Download Chalkboard and try it now. This is how you make hybrid work easier.
Hybrid working is the future and this is how you can make it work for your small business