The work environment post pandemic is becoming increasingly likely to be a hybrid between remote and office working.
In a recent PwC survey on remote working, less than one in five employees say that they would like to go back to the office as it was pre-pandemic. In addition, Gallup’s research shows that nearly 65% of US workers who worked remotely during the pandemic would like to continue to do so.
While remote work has its challenges, the advantages seem to have certainly surpassed its shortcomings. Perhaps the most important shift has been in people’s expectations of what work means to them. The blurred lines between work and personal life have also highlighted the growing importance of how work influences wellbeing.
There are a few ways organisations and leaders can make a hybrid work environment a success:
Set clear expectations
In order to navigate this successfully, managers need to set clear and fair expectations about when people are expected to show up, either individually or as a group.
For example, when on-site presence is required or favoured, and when it is not, who gets access to what information and who needs to be in on certain decisions. Managers need to be honest with their own expectations too. When people are not expected to be in the office, managers need to ensure that team meetings are conducted uniformly on the same communication platform (such as zoom) even when part of the team is in the office.
Building a culture of fairness in a hybrid work environment can be tricky. Remote employees may feel that their colleagues in the office have more opportunities to learn about what is happening in the organisation, and have an unfair advantage when it comes to being recognised and rewarded.
Managers need to be sensitive and inclusive about how they treat people. Blocking out time for one-on-one check-ins with all team members, regardless of where they are, is important to ensure fairness.
Make it fun
Many people miss the informal team bonding sessions, fun conversations and water-cooler time of the pre-pandemic work life. Find ways to bring back some fun and playfulness at work.
Set out times where there is no agenda, and teams can come together remotely to talk about their lives and interests outside of work. It is also important to make sure that these activities are open to all, regardless of their location. This helps people feel connected and have a sense of belonging, which enables them to be themselves at work.
Organisations should think of how they can leverage the learnings and experiences of remote work to intentionally plan for the future of work. The steps taken today will guide how work will be carried out in the future.
As organisations settle into new norms, they need to anticipate the shift in people’s expectations and priorities and consider how to adjust. This will be paramount to building a healthy and successful work culture.