Understanding hybrid work culture and how best to handle it
If you have the office space sorted, there are apps that can help you with automating activities like syncing employee schedules so as to figure out what’s the best day to have a meeting, keep a check on office resources like desks, meetings rooms, parking, etc., so as none of these spaces are crowded.
Over the last year, particularly the last few months, you might have heard the words “hybrid work” many times. The Covid-19 pandemic shut down most offices globally and made people work from their homes. While working from home came with its own set of challenges, it was the safest thing to do at that point in time to ensure work carried on as always. Then with the vaccines rolling out and most countries managing to successfully control the spread of the virus, in many parts of the world, starting with the West, some companies decided to open up their offices again, allowing some employees to come in.
But reopening office spaces comes with its own set of issues, even if it is a controlled and phased reopening.
For starters, all employees may not be fully vaccinated yet, some employees may be dealing with the after-effects of Covid-19 and may not be comfortable with working in an office environment yet, making the employer come up with a dual system that's best suited for everyone. This dual system is what is called hybrid work.
What exactly is hybrid work?
Hybrid work means that employees split their workdays between home and office space. On certain days they continue to work from home, as they have been for almost all of last year, and on others, depending on the necessity and requirement, they work from the office. For example, if in your company Mondays and Thursdays are days when team meetings are held, instead of doing these meetings over Zoom or Teams, you just head to the office to do it in person. For the other days in the week, you continue to work from home, as you were.
Many companies are opting for a hybrid work structure because it allows employees to come in as and when needed. The number of people present in an office space at any given point in time is also controlled making it easier to maintain Covid-related safety protocols like social distancing, sanitization, etc. One other thing that hybrid workspaces allow for is in-person human interaction - you get to see and meet your colleagues again. Something many of us have been missing thanks to the new WFH (work from home) system.
The pandemic has shown us that there are only a handful of professions that cannot be handled from home, for which you need employees to be present in the office or their workplace every day. A hybrid system cannot work for those professions, but for the ones that can, this is what the future looks like. Companies like Google and Microsoft have already inducted their employees into this hybrid work culture, and it is just going to get more popular and more commonplace.
What do you need to set up a hybrid workplace?
Your current office space can easily be transformed into a hybrid workplace. If there are certain constraints, for example, many companies gave up their office spaces over the last year to save money, then a co-working space can be utilized. Since social distancing is still the norm, one will need to ensure that there is enough space in these offices to accommodate people without overcrowding. And here's the best part - there are apps that can help you with this.
If you have the office space sorted, there are apps that can help you with automating activities like syncing employee schedules so as to figure out what's the best day to have a meeting, keep a check on office resources like desks, meetings rooms, parking, etc., so as none of these spaces are crowded. This is best explained with an example - imagine you are in the office and want to step down to the canteen to get a cup of coffee. Now, you are not aware of how many people are already in the canteen so to prevent overcrowding you decide to wait it out, and you never end up getting that cup of coffee. These apps can tell you exactly how many people are in the canteen at a certain time and if you can step down and get your caffeine fix - it's that simple.
How can a hybrid work-facilitating app help?
From the employee perspective, these apps facilitating hybrid work can help figure out the best days to go to the office, so as your team is also in, and the best days to work from home. Research shows that most employees prefer not to work from the office on Mondays and Fridays while Tuesdays and Thursdays seem to be the top picks for working from the office. So instead of having to message or email the rest of your team, you can schedule your office workday and a meeting right from the app after checking everyone else's schedules.
From the employer's perspective, these apps help organisations implement Covid-related safety protocols like sanitizing the office, ensuring everyone is wearing masks, maintaining social distancing, etc. Human Resources and team managers can also use these apps to plan, execute, and monitor all things from a central dashboard to ensure smooth functioning. These apps also include employee health screening questionnaires, vacation status trackers, etc. It's like running a normal office, as one would pre-pandemic, but with most of the work being automated and facilitated by a feature-rich, handy app.
So, what's next?
Now, not all organisations can opt-in for a hybrid workplace model. And there is also no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to hybrid workspaces. Each company has to figure out what works best for it and make the necessary arrangements based on their business requirements, organizational structure, and most importantly, their work culture. And above all of this is safety requirements, while the pandemic has largely been brought under control, we are not quite out of danger yet.
In a situation like this, where the main idea is to ensure work gets done without forcing employees to adapt to a system that's inconvenient, and also keep a very tight check on health and safety protocols, a hybrid work environment is the perfect segue way for the future.
It is highly likely that some of us might never go back to working in offices again, some organisations might have shut off their workspaces for good transitioning entirely to a “work-from-home” system for all employees. On the other hand, there are many offices that are waiting for the right, and the safest, time to reopen their doors again and welcome their employees back. After working from home for more than a year, going back to office spaces might take some getting used to, and offices too need to prepare to best handle their regular functioning while keeping Covid-19 protocols in check. A hybrid work setup can help employees transition from working from home to working from offices again. Apps facilitating this entire system of organising, handling, scheduling, and overlooking the whole hybrid work process are also going to become as inevitable as the future of workplaces as we know it - the hybrid sort.
This article has been written by Deepesh Agarwal, CEO and Cofounder WorkInSync
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