In the ever-evolving professional landscape, hybrid work models have quickly become the new normal. Approximately 51% of the workforce will follow a hybrid work model by the end of 2023, allowing millions of employees nationwide to work in-person and remotely. Embracing a hybrid work model can enhance the work-life balance, well-being, and morale of employees, all of which are vital for retaining top talent. Unfortunately, there are unique hybrid work challenges that might land management and HR teams in unfamiliar territory. Thankfully, with the right tools and resources, these complexities can evolve into opportunities for growth and innovation. Here are some of the top challenges of hybrid working and how to handle these problems!
What is a Hybrid Work Model?
The hybrid work model is a flexible approach that combines aspects of traditional in-office work and remote work. This new normal rose to prominence during the COVID-19 pandemic when organizations worldwide were forced to adopt new safety guidelines while attempting to maintain productivity in the workplace.
Employees under this model can blend working from different locations, including home, office, or on-the-go. Post-COVID, the hybrid work model continues to thrive, driven by its proven benefits, such as improved work-life balance, increased employee satisfaction, and sustained productivity.
While seemingly beneficial for company morale, there are unique challenges of hybrid working for management teams and employees. As a result, there may be some growing pains as teams adjust to this new arrangement.
The key to a successful transition lies in clear communication and proactive problem-solving. Management should strive to address potential issues before they arise, ensuring a smooth transition and a stronger, more resilient team in the long run.
Challenges of Hybrid Work…and How to Handle Them
While hybrid work models are enhancing employee satisfaction with their improved work-life balance, they also present unique challenges for HR and management. Navigating the complexities of managing a dispersed workforce, maintaining clear communication, and ensuring consistent productivity levels can prove to be a demanding task for leadership. Here are some common hybrid work challenges and how to prevent them from becoming bigger obstacles.
A Breakdown in Communication
While offering flexibility and convenience, hybrid work models can sometimes lead to communication gaps. The absence of spontaneous, face-to-face interactions that typically occur in an office setting might make it challenging to clarify doubts promptly or discuss complex issues effectively. Therefore, adopting a hybrid work model could potentially make meeting deadlines more difficult and following up on tasks more demanding.
To combat this, it’s essential to establish regular check-ins and updates to ensure everyone is on the same page and feels included in the team’s dynamics. These discussions shouldn’t be limited to in-person meetings. Communication should continue during the workday while a person is working remotely.
Bonfyre makes communication seamless by integrating with the platform of your employees’ choice, including Microsoft Teams. This easy-to-use platform allows you to schedule notifications and posts for employees.
Bonfyre also provides management with communication insights to ensure the messages are being read in a prompt manner. By setting clear expectations prior to entering a hybrid work agreement and following up with regular communication, important information will never fall through the gaps!
Employees Long for Connection
Our basic human need for connection can sometimes be a stumbling block in a hybrid work environment. Remote workers may miss out on spontaneous conversations that occur in the office, leading to a sense of isolation or disconnection.
Brian Sherman, Sr. VP and Chief People Officer for Delta Dental, transitioned his company and its affiliates to a hybrid work model. He found that employees don’t want to arrive at an empty office. If they are coming to work, they look forward to the “human connection.”
One strategy organizations can use to combat this is by synchronizing remote work days. Ensuring that all members are working from home on the same days can help maintain team cohesion and facilitate better communication.
If this isn’t possible due to varying schedules or company needs, implementing a rotating schedule could be another solution. This would ensure that everyone has an opportunity to interact with their immediate supervisors, coworkers, and other departments at different times.
Another effective strategy could be introducing half-days in the office. This provides employees with the chance for face-to-face collaboration without the necessity of a full day’s commitment. Brainstorming days could also be replaced with more informal gatherings like luncheons or coffee catch-ups, which can foster a sense of camaraderie outside the formal office setting.
Training leaders in a hybrid environment can be a challenging task. Many companies are turning to self-guided learning and development (L+D) programs to great success.
However, they’re finding that employees are having some of the same troubles completing L+D programs as they did while they worked in-office, pre-pandemic. That’s because emerging leaders are struggling to balance their workload with L+D education.
Apps like Bonfyre can play a key role in facilitating this process. Bonfyre’s Culture Coach provides a platform where you can engage with your employees, send them friendly nudges to complete to take pre-built engagement actions tailored to their unique engagement survey goals, training curriculum and more.
Overcoming Supposed Proximity Biases
Some remote employees who work from home fear that they will become “out of sight, out of mind.” Proximity bias refers to the tendency for employees and co-workers to value and prefer workers who are in-office more frequently.
This bias is largely due to assumptions that people are more productive in an office environment than at home. To overcome these hybrid work challenges, it’s crucial to address and mitigate proximity bias to create an inclusive work culture.
Engagement platforms like Bonfyre can play a pivotal role in combating proximity bias. Through its rewards features and smart recognition nudges, Bonfyre helps ensure that all employees, irrespective of their location, are recognized for their contributions.
Moreover, Bonfyre’s communication tools can help bridge the physical gap between in-office and remote employees. Regular updates, discussions, and virtual team-building activities can foster a sense of community, thereby reducing the impact of proximity bias.
Fostering a Positive Workplace Culture
Workplace culture extends beyond the physical office’s walls. However, cultivating a robust workplace culture in a hybrid model could be challenging. Physical separation and reduced face-to-face interactions could potentially make it harder to maintain a sense of community and shared purpose.
Despite these challenges, leaders can foster an inclusive culture in a hybrid workplace. Regular, transparent communication keeps everyone connected and informed, regardless of their location. Implementing inclusive policies, such as flexible work hours and equal opportunities for remote and on-site employees, promotes fairness.
Bonfyre is a valuable tool in implementing these strategies. Its features facilitate regular communication, foster community, and promote a merit-based culture through recognition and rewards for all employees, irrespective of location. Survey and feedback tools also provide valuable insights into employee sentiment and inform strategies to enhance workplace inclusivity.
Overcome Hybrid Work Challenges with Bonfyre
Hybrid work models offer considerable benefits, including increased flexibility and improved work-life balance. However, they also present challenges, such as potential communication gaps due to the lack of face-to-face interaction. To overcome these obstacles and ensure the success of hybrid work models, effective communication and the strategic use of digital tools are essential. Tools like Bonfyre can facilitate seamless collaboration, prompt feedback, and efficient task management, bridging any potential communication gaps and fostering a productive work environment!