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Best of Both Worlds

Four strategies to leverage when transitioning to a hybrid workforce model.

By Alicia Seager

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, many companies are gravitating toward a hybrid work model -one that provides the flexibility to work from home without completely eliminating the in-person office environment many employers crave. Case in point: 71 percent of employees and managers express a desire to continue working from home at least part time, according to the Work Trend Index from Microsoft.

Look no further than the decisions being made by several major tech companies, including Twitter and Facebook. These firms have committed to a hybrid model for the foreseeable future, noting valuable perks such as increased productivity, lower overhead costs, and the potential for a more diverse hiring pool. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg predicts that over the next 10 years, close to 50 percent of the company’s workforce will continue to work in a remote capacity.

But 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.

As employers and employees alike transition to this new way of working, here are four things to consider.

1. Technology is no longer a “nice to have.” Members of a hybrid team must cooperate with each other, build trust, and hold each other accountable no matter where they are. The best way to connect siloed teams and departments is through digital tools.

However, a quick and seamless transition to technology isn’t always easy to navigate. In fact, according to Gartner, at the beginning of the pandemic, 54 percent of HR leaders cited poor technology as the biggest barrier to effective remote work.

To ensure seamless collaboration, the responsibility lies on senior leadership to not only invest in these technologies, but also take the time needed to educate and reskill employees on how to best use them. Only then can companies truly strike a balance between in-person and remote work and ensure that collaboration and productivity does not fall to the wayside.

2. Optimize employees’ skill sets for this new way of working. According to a recent Microsoft poll, 82 percent of managers expect more flexible work-from-home policies post-pandemic. However, the challenges of managing and hiring a hybrid team will only get more complex as companies fundamentally change in a post-COVID world.

Recruiters must understand how roles will change post-pandemic and what skills, personal characteristics, and competencies will make for peak performance. For example, assessing for enduring skills like agility, adaptability, and collaboration will prove key to an employee’s long-term success.

At the end of the day, learning to work from home is exactly that -something that must be learned. People who can navigate unknowns, adapt quickly, apply newly learned information and skills, and use feedback to improve will be best equipped for hybrid work. For example, while hard skills like data analysis and cloud computing were previously considered most important, today’s enduring skills, from teamwork and collaboration to resiliency and openness to change, have become necessary, core determinants of job fit.

3. The hiring process has changed and companies must follow suit. With more than 30 million unemployed Americans applying for a finite number of jobs, companies can look to digital hiring to find the right candidates the first time around and make the fastest and most effective hiring decisions.

To fill limited open roles, companies can leverage digital, remote-ready, AI-driven recruitment and candidate screening tools, which can drive enhanced efficiency, effectiveness, and long-term employee happiness. By eliminating inefficiencies like manual steps and in-person meetings, virtual hiring can streamline what is traditionally a time-intensive process.

With digital hiring technologies driving pre-hire assessments and virtual interviewing, companies can reduce common hiring barriers, such as geographical limitations and logistics, while also ensuring a larger talent pool than ever before.

4. Double down on corporate culture. There’s no question that the hybrid model will alter workplace culture. In fact, a SHRM report finds that one-third of employees have concerns around maintaining corporate culture. Without reliance on daily hallway chats and coffee conversations, leadership must be intentional about connecting with employees and look at new ways to create an environment that feels personal, engaging, and collaborative.

While this cultural shift can be challenging, it is a unique opportunity for companies to re-focus their attention on employees’ health and well-being and implement policies that drive a positive impact long beyond the global pandemic. Some ways to foster a hybrid culture include regular employee check-in meetings to share feedback, recognizing employee success and accomplishments, and ensuring each employee’s personal development remains intact.

When COVID-19 began, companies were forced to transition their workplace to remote practically overnight. As HR looks to a post-pandemic world, the companies best poised for success will be those that can tap into the benefits that both virtual and in-person work offer while ensuring that employee well-being and experience are at the forefront every step of the way.

Alicia Seager is the director of people and culture for OutMatch.

Tags: Employee Engagement, HR Technology, Magazine Article, September-2020, Talent Acquisition

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