Before the pandemic hit the world in 2020, there were only two working models for companies: remote working or Working in an Office. But, when some major IT companies called their employees to the office in 2021, we heard a new term: The Hybrid Working Model. Lying somewhere in the middle of remote and office, the hybrid working model is the employee’s freedom to choose to come back to the office or not.
According to a survey by JLL, 75% of the employees today want to be in the office at least once a week. Employees have become habituated to working remotely and they are expecting hybrid work to be the new normal. They want more work-life balance in their ways of working, with a hybrid work model and flexibility being key.
What is a Hybrid Working Model?
During the pandemic, for many leaders and teams, it was easy to run successful meetings remotely and be productive when working from home, while for others it was very difficult and faced a lot of challenges in communication. That forces the companies to think out of the box and come up with a solution that works best for both: those who love working from home and others who hate it. That gives employees the option to select the place where they work at their best.
The hybrid working model has many variations, for example, some of the companies are considering employees to be in the office for two days a week and work from home for the rest of the week.
Other companies may give their employees the choice to either fully work from the office or fully work remotely.
What is the question that your organization is asking when they are thinking about back-to-office? Are they asking you to commit the number of days a week you wish to work from the office? With the changes the world has seen in the past two years, our physical office is changed and can be flexible to accommodate this hybrid term. Think of different types of physical offices from where an employee can join and work:
- There can be one main office or headquarter where all your big shots or the core team can work.
- You can have micro-offices at different locations to support operations. This structure of one main office and several micro offices, we have witnessed even before the pandemic.
- The new thing that we are seeing is the addition of several on-demand offices. These are small shared spaces such as cafes, coworking spaces, which are available for small meetings or whenever a business needs them.
Well, the definition of the Hybrid working model changes from organization to organization, yet the purpose is the same, to provide flexibility to the employees and the organization. A flexible workspace that provides collaboration better than the virtual world and freedom to work from the comfort of your home.
Does is it mean that Hybrid Working Model is Working for Everyone
Sundar Pichai, Google CEO, in a blog post has shared their approach on the Hybrid Working Model, stating that their employees (Googlers as they call them) will spend approximately three days in the office and the rest two days of the week will work from wherever they work best.
While another company, Dropbox has decided to go against the Hybrid Working Model and has decided to go Virtual First. They are saying that working remotely will be primary and the default for their employees. They decided this considering that in Hybrid Work Model not every employee will get equal experience.
Is it easy to transition?
In one of the podcasts by Patrick Lencioni, Lencioni’s team highlights that it is not the change that scared anyone it is the transition that comes with the change. Two of their podcasts explain a methodology or transition model developed by Bill Bridges.
Even though the podcast is not specific to the Hybrid Working model but you can apply the learnings here as well. It focuses on the four Ps, Purpose, Picture, Plan, and Part.
- Purpose: Why are we doing this?
- Picture: What is the outcome going to be like?
- Plan: What does the path to get there look like?
- Part: What is their role in it?
When transitioning the leadership should put extreme focus on communicating the four Ps. This will not only align everyone towards the same goal but also motivates employees in achieving it.
How to Manage, Engage and Motivate Employees in a Hybrid Working Model
For the success of the Hybrid Working Model and to achieve the desired outcomes, one of the biggest challenges that every employer sees is employee engagement and motivation. An employer has to think out-of-the-box and innovate a new solution to this problem. The problem to engage and motivate an employee was always there, even when people were working from the office. The only thing that has changed now is what employees want.
In the hybrid working model, our focus is to provide more flexibility and fluidity to the employees. However, this can unintentionally lead to a feeling of inequality, inconsistency, and invisibility. They always say that the grass is greener on the other side.
Here are some suggestions that can help you build an engaging hybrid workforce:
- Who is that invisible person working for us? We all see that teams and companies are achieving their desired results, but no one knows who does it. When working in distributed offices, it is not easy to see everyone’s achievements unless it is brought to everyone’s attention. It is on both the leader’s shoulders to provide their employees a platform where everyone’s achievements can be shared. This platform can help employees build their connections.
- Another platform is needed where employees can talk informally. Where they can share both their personal and professional news. Remember those conversations at the coffee vending machine when we were in the office. Yes, we all miss those little chit-chats in the office. Those were the time when we used to share anything and build better professional relationships. A relationship in which employees empathize with each other and communicate better. These relationships are helpful in reducing stress at work.
- Take time to celebrate every small and big achievement. When you create a platform where employees can share their achievements, you should give them the spotlight. While doing so, you should ensure that both the person who is working remotely and the one who is working from the office, gets their fair share of the spotlight.
- Offer growth opportunities to everyone. It is often seen that the one who is working from the office gets more visibility than the one who is working remotely. It is the responsibility of a leader that rewards are shared based on the achievements and not from where these achievements are made.
- We all say that we should work smarter and learn from others’ mistakes. However, in the remote environment and hybrid working, not every mistake is brought to everyone’s attention. The reason can be the fear of punishment or being left from the rewards or anything else. As a leader, you can provide a platform where everyone can share their challenges, mistakes they have made, and what was the learning from them.