Whether your organisation is considering a hybrid model for the first time or has already implemented one, these strategies from Suma PN, Director-HR, Otis will help to boost efficiency for your hybrid and remote teams.
Adaptability, flexibility, and resilience are the key behaviours that could lead to success in this ever-changing environment. In 2020, the pandemic compelled us to move into virtual and remote working. As we moved past the second wave of the pandemic in 2021, many companies began initiating ‘return to office’ plans. While this cannot be a knee-jerk transition, it will be based on the nature of the industry, job positions and the stage of digitisation a company is at, and various other related factors. Currently, quite a few companies are grappling to understand the model which will enable a smooth work environment meeting the needs of both the organisation and its employees. Based on the nature of the organisation and future of work, leaders must consider the needs, preferences as well as challenges of the business and employees across the board. Some of the aspects where companies need to focus include:
Reassuring Employees of a Safe Workplace
Even with the pandemic normalising work from home, many employees have shown positive signs to resume work from the office. According to the recent Knight Frank Q3 report 2021, India’s office transaction has reported strong quarterly growth with 12.5 million sq. ft space absorption. The reason behind the growth lies in the shortcomings of work from home, like disproportionate work-life balance, and workplace disconnect. Additionally, given the swift mass vaccination drive in the country and a dip in the number of cases, a high percentage of the workforce is confident to go back to the office.
While the uncertainty of the pandemic still looms upon us, many corporations are instituting robust health & hygiene protocols at work to ensure maximum safety of employees. The HR and safety teams of organisations are realigning their space designs to accommodate touchless access, automated attendance mechanisms, digitised ventilation systems, retina eye scanners, six-foot distance between desks, and voice-controlled features. As digitalisation is ruling every aspect of work, we are seeing automation of the most common touchpoints in an office ranging from doors to soap dispensers to taps.
Moving a step further, corporates are also incorporating AI & prop-tech at workplaces to create a safe work environment. With AI & Cloud-based technologies, offices are developing contactless mechanisms to get an employee’s vaccination details and receive real-time status of seat usage to assist the HR team in planning a smooth return to work. With health and safety taking the center stage, many offices are enabling on-ground health services teams to conduct regular health checkups of employees.
Integrate Flexi Work Models
While hybrid working is here to stay, the real key is flexibility. Maximising the learnings of the past year, companies should continue to provide a work environment suited to the changing times and needs. Based on the nature of the job profile of employees, the company could aim to offer a flexi work model where employees will have the benefit of work from home as well as an office on pre-decided frequencies. This will support employee needs while they focus on delivering the business priorities and commitments.
Satellite offices and co-working spaces that are in closer proximity with modern-day office facilities suit best for companies whose employees have been a part of reverse migration to Tier II & Tier III cities. According to Awfis Workspace Survey 2021, 58 percent of participants have expressed an interest to work from the nearest branch office/or a co-working space provided by their employer.
“While hybrid working is here to stay, the real key is flexibility. Maximising the learnings of the past year, companies should continue to provide a work environment suited to the changing times and needs.”
Employee Engagement and Collaboration for Seamless Connect
Digital technology and collaborative tools are redefining the way we communicate, engage with teams across geographies, learning interventions, the way we work, and measure productivity. HR leaders are going that extra mile to build an engaging work environment where every employee working in the field, office or remotely from home, feels heard, valued, connected, and motivated through the vision, mission, and objectives of the organisation and realise how they can be part of the company’s objectives.
Technology is being leveraged as a solution to ensure engagement by enabling and encouraging knowledge sharing, setting up non-work creative & innovative engagement activities among teams to build a sense of unity, belonging, and togetherness. Learning about new things from peers can help an employee and team understand business at the same frequency. In a hybrid work environment, it is important to prioritise employee relations, their needs, understand their roadblocks, and give solutions that can connect remote and office employees to take more engaging and proactive efforts towards work.
As the work system continues to evolve, continuous learning should also be on the priority list of employees as well as employers. The need to adapt to the dynamic work environment and ace necessary skills for the same, HR leaders are channelising learning through interactive workshops, teaching topics of relevance, gamifying L&D modules, imparting virtual interaction skills, etc. to constantly upskill their employees and provide optimum learning.
Keeping the changing business needs in mind; it is the role of HR leaders to align various learning courses that resolve an employee’s real work-related problem. The L&D modules should act as a performance support tool. Additionally, it is also important to create a personalised and engaged strategy to elevate the experience of remote and office employees with the support of the right leadership and technology.
Going the extra mile to ensure productivity, engagement, and learning in the new normal will help an organisation sustain its culture and values even in challenging times.