Sonal Vyavahare, HR Manager, Sumo Digital

Sonal Vyavahare has worked in human resources for 12 years and has a long way to go. She earned her MBA in Human Resources from MIT in Pune and possesses a great combination of employee life cycle management and HR project management abilities. She has always ensured that her expertise is used promptly, resulting in more impact. Her tenure as HR Manager at Sumo Video Games Pvt. Ltd. spans more than three years and continues to grow. She is proud to have worked at Infosys, Maersk Global Services, and MarketsandMarkets. She has learned the in and out of the entire HR sector throughout the years.

 

Nothing will ever be the same again. From now on, we will always talk about life before and after the pandemic. The global health crisis not only created many fresh challenges but also bestowed some golden opportunities in almost every sector of life/industry(?). Now, after nearly two years of working remotely, people are feeling mixed emotions about returning to work in an office. Many desire a ‘hybrid workplace model’ that can allow them to work from physically anywhere based on their respective needs and preferences. Employees want the best of both worlds!

Often the sudden move to working remotely did not come with proper tools and guidance, people learned in real-time. Professionals suffered the consequences of stretched working hours, isolation, and other downsides. However, interestingly, a recent survey by Blind showed us that when given a choice, around 64 per cent of employees would, without a doubt, turn down a $30,000 rise in salary to continue working remotely. It certainly leaves organizations contemplating the best model for their employees without affecting their businesses, of course. Going forward, the firms that wish to captivate, win and retain employees will have to carefully develop strategies and redesign policies for a hybrid model that works, because getting it right is going to be challenging. 

Here are four critical factors that must be considered for a successful rollout of a hybrid workplace model:

Embrace the change but take it slow

They say change is the only constant, so you must learn to embrace it with an open heart. The hybrid workplace model is the new trend, don’t be sceptical about adopting it! To get it right, it’s totally okay to walk at the speed of a tortoise. 

It’s perplexing when it comes down to determining who will work from the office and how often. It is going to be different for every firm but if not executed properly, it will hamper the process and progress of the organization.A well-formulated hybrid workplace model can act as a magnet that will help employees to stick together and work towards a shared goal. 

A hybrid model can be effective, realistic, and provide freedom of choice as well as flexibility to the professionals. In the long term, productivity is likely to rise if employees are empowered to choose their surroundings from where they wish to work. Organizations need to have open and honest conversations with their employees early on to find out their opinion about working from the office. 

According to a recent global study by Fuze, two-thirds of  professionals considered finding a new job if it meant greater flexibility there. So, if the employee wants to adapt to the ‘new hybrid normal’, it’s time to restructure the firm’s approach. After all, if the organizations’ plans are not in line with the employees’ expectations, they may risk losing the talent.

Understand that WFH is not a privilege 

Treating remote and in-person work as equal and valid is very important. Organizations need to understand this because it’s not a privilege they are providing to the employees, it is a smart move boosting productivity and flexibility of the professionals, which, in turn, will help the firm to walk towards the path of success. The supervisors should focus on outcomes rather than how or where one is working from. It will help to create a more equal(?) hybrid workforce, the result being a rise in the growth rate of the company. 

Invest in the right space and technology 

The leaders must think about how to equip the employees with the necessary tools, tech and devices needed to perform the job, no matter where they’re working from. Rather than spending money on grand workplace setups, now is the time to cut all those extra operating expenses and invest in employees’ happiness. Whilst physical office space is still often  necessary, changing with times and making a clever shift at the right moment is important too. Make sure all voices are heard!

Set official guidelines

It’s true that a hybrid model is more challenging to manage as employees will be navigating an entirely new reality, but you will get the hang of it gradually. Adapting to change takes time and that’s fine. 

Ensure that the company has flexible and pre-set work guidelines to help the professionals work seamlessly regardless of the location. These rules and regulations must include regional working hours, accountability, and the freedom to set a ‘Do not disturb’ mode when they are on a break. Companies should tackle the challenge of employees health and come up with solutions for employees who end up working for longer hours due to operating remotely. They must establish a structure for the workday to avert employee burnout while they adjust to the new hybrid model. There is no silver bullet for this process. Every leader will need to make their own choices as to what is best for their company as well as their people. Learn, evolve, and most importantly, be flexible in the approach!

We are no longer bound to the traditional setup of work culture. So set aside the long-held assumptions, and mentally prepare yourself to embrace these changes. Indeed, building a hybrid workplace may feel like a challenge at first, but sticking with it comes with its own share of advantages. Acknowledge them, and the result will be a culture that’s more resilient and inclusive, suiting different needs and working styles of the professionals.

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