The COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly changed our world—and no arena has been disrupted more fundamentally than our workplace.  In 2022, family life, health, and well-being will take precedence over work. Enter hybrid work. In a recent blog, Microsoft discusses some of the results of their Work Trend Index 2022, stating:

“One thing is clear: We’re not the same people that went home to work in early 2020. The collective experience of the past two years has left a lasting imprint, fundamentally changing how we define the role of work in our lives. The data shows the Great Reshuffle is far from over. Employees everywhere are rethinking their “worth it” equation and are voting with their feet. And as more people experience the upsides of flexible work, the heavier it factors into the equation. For Gen Z and Millennials, there’s no going back. And with other generations not far behind, companies must meet employees where they are.

The decision of whether or not to return to the office is fraught with stress for both employers and employees. Zach Dunn, hybrid work expert and founder of the management company Robin, compares going back to the office to planning a birthday party: “It’s really hard to get anybody to come to a party if everybody R.S.V.P.s maybe.”

What is Hybrid Work?

Let’s start with the basics: Hybrid work involves working in an office sometimes and, at other times, working from home (called remotely). It also entails groups of people working exclusively in the office while others work entirely at home.

In general, a hybrid work environment affords employees the opportunities for increased autonomy and a better work-life balance. 

What does the employer get?

Statistics say employers receive many benefits from a hybrid work policy, such as:

  • Increased productivity
  • Reduced overhead costs
  • Happier, more balanced workers
  • Improved safety and social distancing 

Employee Attitudes Have Changed: Hybrid Work Statistics

Hybrid Work in 2022 Infographic

Technology research and consulting company, Gartner, Inc., gives us some interesting statistics about the hybrid workplace:

  • Working environments that feature flexible work experiences, intentional collaboration, and empathetic management can increase employee performance by as much as 54 percent.
  • When workers are given a significant amount of flexibility in where they work, 55 percent of them will become high performers. In contrast, statistics show that only 36 percent of employees will attain high-performance levels in a traditional 9-to-5 office.
  • Forty-three percent of employees and 47 percent of knowledge workers say they will seek other employment should they be required to work entirely on-site.
  • Eighty-two percent of workers feel their organizations must view them as people, not just employees.  
  • Ninety-nine percent of human resources (HR) leaders are more concerned about workers’ well-being than before the pandemic.

Before the pandemic, there was some talk among more progressive companies about providing more flexible work arrangements. However, daily face-to-face interaction and long work hours were still clearly the norm. And likewise, the majority of workers believed the best place for them to work was in the office.

Then, COVID-19 turned everything upside down.

The Benefits of Hybrid Work

Giving your workers input on where, when, and how they work has many benefits, including:

  • Employee well-being: Employees shift from working around their lives instead of having to live around their work. Workers are happy when they can control their schedules.
  • Having the benefits of both worlds: The company gets the high productivity derived from employee autonomy and remote work and the social and team-working benefits of being in the office.
  • Stress reduction: Things like having a say in their schedules and not having a daily commute to and from the office, etc., free up workers to focus on work.
  • Increased productivity: Workers are given the freedom to work when they are most efficient and in an environment that works for them
  • Reduces costs: Employees spend less on commuting expenses, while employers can scale down the amount of workspace and rent.
  • Forces a change in management style: Managers must switch from time management to output and results management.

How to Create a Hybrid Work Strategy

There is no one way to transform a company’s work model; however, here are some key things to consider to help your hybrid workplace succeed.  

Engage Your Employees in Forming the Plan

Significant changes always work better when you get employee buy-in. So, talk to your employees. Form a planning team of workers from all departments within your organization.  The objectives of this planning team should be to:

  • Collect information about how people currently operate throughout the company
  • Conduct a survey of all workers to identify how, when, and where they work best
  • Use the survey results to form a plan of transition to a more hybrid work environment

Discover and Deal With the Challenges

Before you execute a specific approval to this change, be sure you have identified and have plans on how to tackle potential issues. Key questions to ask are:

  • What is your company culture, and how will you articulate and maintain it?
  • How will teams be encouraged to collaborate?
  • How will work availability requirements be enforced?
  • What are your legal requirements as an employer? 

Create a Concise and Comprehensive Hybrid Work Policy

A hybrid work policy must have transparent and fair guidelines, procedures, and rules. Policies need to be formed around issues such as:

  • What employment positions qualify for remote work—and which ones don’t.
  • When, how often, and where remote work can take place—the same for in-office work
  • Availability requirements for each position
  • Communication requirements for all employees wherever they are working
  • Data security requirements for all working situations
  • Health and safety procedures and protections for in-office and remote work
  • Inclusivity and harassment policies for all work settings

A Strong Communication Plan is KeyWork from Home

Without open communication, a hybrid work model will not succeed. Here are some tips:

  • Employees must be kept abreast of all major changes—especially during the transition phase.
  • Send regular emails.
  • Keep your doors open.
  • Encourage feedback.
  • Be explicit about how everyone is to communicate with each other.
  • Inform employees when key milestones are met or about any glitches in the system.

Rethink Your Office Space

Depending on your goals, you may need to rethink how much office space you require. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What will the office be used for?
  • How many people do I need to accommodate at any point in time?
  • Do I need to redesign the office space I have, or do I need to downsize?

Investing in New Technology

Transitioning into a hybrid workplace calls for close attention to your company’s tech infrastructure.

  • Does the framework you already have work well with both in-office and remote work?
  • Do you need new tools or an upgrade to existing ones?
  • What about cloud capabilities?

In most cases, hybrid work requires the support of robust and reliable solutions for:

  • Chat
  • Cloud storage
  • Cybersecurity and file encryption
  • Email and office suite
  • Video communication

Conclusion

In reality, many companies will need to adjust their business model to include some hybrid functioning. However, despite all the changes in the past three years, the physical office continues to have a purpose, and it is imperative that employers have the best technology in place when employees are in the office. Power over Ethernet (PoE) is an economical,  easy-to-install way to power VoIP phones, IP security cameras, WAPs, and even sophisticated LED lighting systems

Planet Technology USA is proud of its ability to support our customers’ technical needs. Our staff will ensure you are supplied with the best Planet USA products to suit your networking requirements. Contact us here.