COVER STORY – Hybrid Workplace – The New Normal? 0

Hybrid WorkplaceThe New Normal
The COVID-19 pandemic revolutionized the way organizations were functioning - what “normal” looks like has certainly taken a complete turn and people’s definition of the workplace has changed, maybe forever. Organisations and employees are now looking at the start of what could be the new normal for times to come. One that would involve moving towards a balanced working model by mixing virtual and physical work experiences i.e. “hybrid workplaces”. 

 

All Things Talent MagazineOne of the biggest buzzwords of 2020 was ‘the new normal’. Now that we are in the post-pandemic era, here is the burning question – what is our new normal? This question has been buzzing since last year in almost every sphere of our lives, however, one of the most common spheres where it is the loudest is our work life.

As I am writing this, I can recall the time when we asked our employees at Adda52 to work from home for an indefinite period of time. Trust me, it was not a cakewalk. We were among the first organizations to make this call so we did not even have a model to follow.

Like us, many (in fact most) organizations felt lost in the beginning – some were even not ready for this virtual arrangement but well, did anyone have an option? Desperate times truly call for desperate measures and this was one instance where we could not “take it easy”.

Now that we are on the other side of the pandemic, many organizations have started implementing a balanced approach by mixing virtual and physical work experiences. Click To Tweet

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However, now that the pandemic is beginning to settle, we, along with many other organizations are reimagining the work arrangements – Is it time to bring back the ‘old’ normal or do we need something completely new? It surely was not easy to smoothly navigate this workplace crisis brought about by the pandemic. However, now that people are learning how to adjust to their new normal, many organizations have started reopening their offices so that employees can work like they used to before (or in an even better manner) with a brighter and more positive outlook.

That being said, let us not forget that the pandemic and its cascading effects are still very much there so instead of immediately turning into a 5-day work-from-office routine, organizations, for now, are planning to create a hybrid work environment – which is a mix of remote as well as office workplace. Thus, some days employees can work from home and the other days, they can work from the office.

This raises a significant question that you might be able to answer or acknowledge by the end of this article – Is Hybrid Workplace the Future of Work?

The Other Side of the Pandemic

The year 2020 was a revolutionary year for most of the organizations in the world because most of their employees worked from home, almost throughout the year. As the pandemic emerged at the beginning of last year, people’s definition of the workplace changed. However, now that we are on the other side of the pandemic, many organizations have started implementing a balanced approach by mixing virtual and physical work experiences.

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Now, this is the trickiest side of the pandemic and how we deal with it matters the most. It is a slippery slope because the idea of having a hybrid workplace comes with many challenges (but also charms). Let us first demystify the challenges it comes with.

Also Read:  Awareness and Planning - Key to Embracing Change in the Post-COVID World 

How Do You Keep Your Employees Engaged?

During the lockdown period, this question kept popping in my head every once in a while. It was not easy, especially when you are dealing with people coming from all backgrounds. How do you find something that keeps all your employees engaged without them meeting each other?

Keeping your employees engaged is important to retain their sense of belonging with the organization. We used to create weekly engagement activities for our employees, from informal video meetups to playing and partaking in online poker (since we are a poker company) competitions together. It indeed was a roller coaster ride!

Now, even though most organizations are trying to keep the environment hybrid (and not solely virtual), keeping your employees engaged is still going to be a challenge. After all, meeting every day is far different from meeting occasionally. Thus, how do you keep your employees connected? It is only your work culture that can act as a fabric that can keep them glued together.

How Do You Monitor Your Employees’ Performance?

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Sometimes all you need to do is trust your employees. One of the company values that we emphasize greatly is collaboration. The real question is – how do you collaborate without trusting each other AND how do you trust without seeing each other’s faces every day? If you are only working for a few days per week from the office, you know you are not going to see your team members every day, so how do you know they are going to perform well without any supervision or micromanagement? Well, you got to trust them! There is no shortcut to it.

At the same time, you must keep goals and targets in your team and review and follow-up with your team every once in a while but constantly asking them about their progress can push them away. Ever heard of the story where a person holds the sand too tight and eventually loses all of it for squeezing too hard?

The line between work and life is gradually fading off. This means that now people can work from the comfort of their homes on most days and can even choose the time of their convenience. Thus, a hybrid workplace comes with great flexibility, which when practised correctly, can take everyone a long way.

Everything said and done, once applied or implemented properly, the hybrid workplace can be greatly successful. There are several reasons for this. Some of them are –

Don’t You Like Some Flexibility?

Everyone loves being their own boss and by following this work environment, people can be their own bosses even if they have one at work. This is because they can work at their own pace. In fact, things have changed so much that people are beginning to rephrase their question – Is work a part of life or life a part of work? The line between work and life is gradually fading off. This means that now people can work from the comfort of their homes on most days and can even choose the time of their convenience (of course, depending on what the manager approves). Thus, a hybrid workplace comes with great flexibility, which when practised correctly, can take everyone a long way.

Also Read:  COVER STORY - Return to Work Strategy after COVID-19

Isn’t It Time to Be More Productive? 

Some people are more productive when they work from home, while others are more efficient when they work from the office. The hybrid work model gives the option for both. Employees can figure out how they work the best and can choose that method of working so they could become more productive as well as speedy.

Thus, this gives the employees more freedom to choose how they want to work and what they want to do in their non-office hours. Otherwise, for people travelling large distances, this option is usually futile because, by the time they reach home, they already plan to hit the hay. Thus, there is no productivity outside of work.

Communication is Always the Key

When employees are not meeting each other regularly, they can feel a certain disconnect. Thus, the only mantra they must follow during this time is – assume less, communicate more. Communication is truly the key to great understanding and lifelong bonds. Here are a few simple ways you can enhance your communication skills –

  1. Listening is an important part of any communication – Communication is always a two-way street where one speaks and the other listens. Thus, communication does not always mean talking and articulating, it also means listening to others’ needs and being an empath.
  1. Do not assume, always clarify – There are times when we misread other people’s body language or tone. But you must never form an impression on the basis of your assumptions. Ask, share, speak, and do not ever take a chance because one miscommunication can lead to a lot of blunder.
  1. Overcommunicate, if need be – When people are working from home on most days of the week, it is important to stay in touch. Keep a check on each other on a personal level as well. Overcommunicate but do not overindulge or micromanage. Real leadership lies in knowing where to draw the line while communicating.

Summing up

From carving out a small corner of their home into a workstation to purchasing multiple work equipment for this new ‘home office’, people did whatever they could to blend in this phase of ‘new normal’. In fact, many organizations also made sure that their employees were not facing any troubles while working from home.

We, at Adda52, also ensured to support our employees during this time by covering up for their work-from-home equipment expenses. You know what they say, it is only in the saddest times we know who our truest friends are and during this tough time, we only wanted to be a true friend of our employees. However, now that things are easing out, it is time to redefine the future of work by keeping that friendship intact.

Even though people say that Hybrid is the future of work, take your time, go with the flow, but at the same time, be prepared for whatever might come your way.

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Akanksha Awasthi is the Senior Human Resources Manager at Adda52. com. She is a professional extraordinaire with a decade of expertise in HRBP, People Management, Grievance Handling, Training & Development, etc. She has a great understanding of Business and People which is crucial to be proficient in the field of HR. Her role has been instrumental in formulating effective HR processes and policies and various employee development programs. Being passionate about her division, she is always looking to build key relationships (personal as well as professional), forming a collaborative work culture, and ensuring proper communication flow across all cross-functional teams.

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