Is your company fully prepared for employees off-site?
It’s easy to say that your place of work is hybrid-method-ready, especially if you’re dealing with a digital business. All you need is a steady wi-fi connection and you’re set, right?
The first thing you need to remember is that, despite working in the same company, employees are fundamentally different people with different backgrounds, living conditions and professional needs. While your ideal nomad-entrepreneur might be happy to sip a mocktail on a beach while typing away at spreadsheets on their tablet, this particular form of collaboration is not one-size-fits-all.
Nothing says "productivity" like a hyper child and a dying houseplant.
Let’s start with the basics.
As it is with most other things, your workplace arrangement needs to answer several questions: WHERE, WHAT, WHO and HOW.
The WHERE is your first challenge. In order to their work, employees need a place where their particular brand of concentration is supported – for the lucky few, this may indeed be the beachside café. For most of us, it’s more likely a blank room with no distractions to keep our attention from wandering. For some, it may be a lively, open-space setting. The options are endless.
The WHAT is the work being done. Beachside café or blank cubicle, you still need to have certain outputs – and that might ask for things like meetings or reports, both of which are generated to provide clarity and transparency.
WHO – the employees, obviously. Except then you need to be clear on exactly WHO does WHAT, or you get a lot of problems with HOW.
With us so far? Because the HOW is where things get interesting.
According to We Work Remotely, the world has embraced hybrid and remote work methods and is unlikely to be going back. For this reason, it’s important to make sure that the long-term needs of a hybrid workforce are met – including any tools or solutions for managing and running the business.
A standing desk and a distracting view: also known as punishment.
You’ll see a lot of articles, blogs or tutorial talking about the benefits of a hybrid model, especially if your business has a basis in the digital world. After all, the upsides include everything from improved mental health of employees to reduction of C02 emissions. One thing that isn’t as discussed, however, is the sustainability of these work models.
If you’ve practiced hybrid work methods before, you’ll know that the styles of management and rules of conduct differ from traditional work models. On the one hand, you’re providing your employees with flexibility and freedom to choose their place and style of work. On the other hand, you’re still bound to produce certain results on a constant basis.
A company that isn’t ready for remote work will not feel the strain of the business changes in the beginning. Don’t let that fool you – smooth sailing in the first few weeks or months can actually cause more lasting damage long-term.
An example of this could be regular client meetings. Traditionally, you would have a set time to meet based on mutual work times. With a hybrid model, you are no longer bound by the place or time of work. While somebody might pick up the slack and still keep to the schedule set before the change, this model requires a hero (or sacrifice). Long-term, you’re on very shaky grounds.
Things get even more complicated when it comes to managing employees in hybrid models. Juggling flexibility and the need for measurable output is enough to send a team of HR experts into early retirement, and that’s before you include the obligatory personal-and-professional growth plans.
If you’ve got any doubts about your own readiness to tackle a hybrid work model, know that you are not alone. There are a lot of trailblazing companies that have made their first steps into the world of remote work, but it’s up to those of us dealing with it on a daily basis to work on making the process as easy and intuitive as possible.
We’ll be back with a blog on the available methods and tools for hybrid work in a few weeks. Stay tuned!