By Debbie Bolla
As organizations monitor workforce changes driven by COVID-19 and try to identify the shifts that may end up being permanent, the hybrid work model is one to keep an eye on. A hybrid workplace is a blend of employees working from the office and others working from home. Many organizations have opted for this model by staggering employees’ schedules as a way to safely reopen offices after mandated shutdowns in early spring. And it’s likely to continue, with findings from Microsoft’s Work Trend Index showing that 71 percent of employees and managers want to continue working from home at least part time.
Is a hybrid workforce the model of the future? It certainly is an approach that gives employees a bit of flexibility and employers the in-person innovation they crave. Two stories provide some insight to help determine the answer to that question. In Best of Both Worlds, Alicia Seager, director of people and culture for OutMatch, shares that a hybrid model will call for significant changes to support all workers.
“Success in a hybrid environment will require a completely new way of thinking, working, and communicating—as well as striking the perfect balance between productivity, safety, and employee culture,” she explains.
She provides a good place to start, outlining four considerations that are certain to make a difference. One is technology; specifically, a platform that ensures that all employees have an easy way to connect and collaborate. Recent research shows tech’s value, with companies investing in new resources to support a hybrid workforce. According to Xerox Holdings Corporation, 56 percent of organizations are increasing technology budgets and 34 percent are planning to speed their digital transformation as a result of COVID-19.
Mastering the Mix offers key steps to create workforce unity when working under a hybrid model, including focusing on team building, conducting successful virtual meetings, and leading while considering differences across employee preferences.
“Leading in the hybrid context is not easy—in fact, it is probably harder than when all employees are remote,” says Dr. Penny Pullan, director of Making Projects Work Ltd. “Continue to focus on each person, maintain a level playing field, and work hard to keep things fair and consistent between all team members.”