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Creating a Successful Hybrid Workplace

July 18, 2020

By Mary E. Corrado, courtesy of SBAM Approved Partner ASE

In my last blog I wrote about the likelihood of work becoming a hybrid blend of remote and office. However, there are some leadership challenges to be aware of when creating a hybrid environment that will be successful.  

For hybrid to be successful, an organization needs to move away from the concept that all leadership is office-based.  The office can no longer be the “glue” that holds everyone together.  Creating camaraderie and a team-based culture must equally include remote workers. Remote workers should be considered equal to those working in the office.  Some leaders’ views need to be adjusted  it’s no longer about being at the office that dictates success. 

For a hybrid work environment to work, it can’t be managed as if everyone is in the office.  Leadership must change the way they lead.  Systems and processes will need to be adjusted to account for both office and remote workers.  

I came across a blog on robinpowered.com that gives some great tips on how to create a successful hybrid workplace while supporting each type of worker: 

  1. Create space for 1:1 conversation. Be sure to provide private areas within the office for those in the office to speak with remote employees.  For those environments without offices these may be phone booths or small conference areas.
  2. Invest in video conferencing tools. Be sure you have the right technology in place to support a remote workforce.  This should include the ability for video conferencing. 
  3. Offer remote opportunities for in-office activities.  If you are having a lunch or happy hour in the office, do it in a conference room with video conferencing access so that you can include your remote workers. 

A recent survey by Xerox Holdings Corporation shows an estimated 82% of the workforce will have returned to the workplace in 12-18 months’ time, with some employees remaining remote – a hybrid office.  This will require investment in new resources to support a hybrid remote/in-office workforce.   

One of the biggest challenges to a hybrid office right now is workspaces.  In the past, organizations utilized flex-desking – where remote employees could choose were to sit when they were in the office.  But with COVID-19, shared workspaces are no longer safe. If you do choose that option, disinfecting will be a very important safety measure.  

I saw a quote recently in an article on ZDnet.com that stated, “Let’s rebrand WFH to ‘Working from Here’.” I think this says it all.  The office is no longer the standard.  Organizations have learned that productivity does not diminish with remote work.   

I think organizations will see an increase in employee engagement if this is done right.  Remote workers will experience a better work/life balance.  Employees will work how they feel they are the most productive.  Work is no longer a place; it’s an outcome. There are still many unanswered questions on the long-lasting effects of COVID-19; the office environment is surely one that will continue to be top of mind for leadership. 

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