If Covid-19 made anything clear to us, it was that our way of working needed to be reassessed. Physical travel for meetings that could be held online, office hours set in stone resulting in traffic jams; all of which could be improved. At the same time, the crisis showed that people are social animals who thrive when working together. The solution? A hybrid employment structure, with a balance between remote and office work. But organising this is no small feat.
Being personally present in the office. Working standard hours. Feverishly going out on the road. Covid-19 showed us we had to get rid of that inflexible vision of work. Not that we should all start telecommuting, but still, the system of a fixed location and hours is – literally – no longer practical. Instead, employers must move towards a focus on results, such as the objectives that have been achieved and the projects that have been completed. And not on how many hours the employee worked and how many days they were present in the office. In other words, as long as the work is done (and done well), it does not matter where it gets done. This is the essence of “hybrid working” or of a hybrid employment structure, which will inevitably become the new normal.
Ergonomics and employment contracts
A hybrid employment structure also means that you expect the employee to be at the workplace – if only to keep the social fabric strong and the bond with the company healthy. This creates an additional challenge: how do you actually organise a hybrid employment structure? Where and when are your staff expected to be in the office? What if someone wants to be present full time because he or she does not like the home environment as a workplace? How can you get remote workers to form teams with colleagues working in the office? This organisation also requires a clear strategy, which will have to be worked out in close co-operation with HR.
Bicycle for the brain
Last but not least, the necessary technological and digital tools are needed to get the most out of a hybrid employment structure. After all, your employee must be able to work efficiently, whether at home, in a co-working space, or in a hotel lobby. This poses another challenge. Firstly, because of the digital acceleration and transition to the cloud, not everything has been resolved in a well-considered way. And those who move forward so fast must periodically hit the pause button to see what the right IT direction is and the best route to it. In short, we need an IT strategy for 2021 and beyond. One in which your employees are involved in as closely as possible so they can provide you with feedback.
Secondly, you need to familiarise your staff with the new technology and tools for teleworking (cloud applications, videoconferencing software, etc.) so that they are bought into the added value of these when working remotely and give you the output you expect. Therefore, make technology adoption a spearhead of your employee policy.
The hybrid employment structure is here to stay. But it is not something you simply integrate into the workflow. It requires a well-considered approach, supported by clear communication to your employees. After all, a hybrid employment structure implies change, and that often frightens people. “Everyone loves progress, nobody likes change”: keep this in mind when planning and implementing the changeover.