After more than a year of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, some organizations are regaining a sense of normalcy — one in which many businesses have embraced a hybrid work paradigm. While this method provides flexibility and other benefits, it can also create problems for employees and companies.
After a year of large-scale remote work, it’s apparent that CIOs will need to rethink IT operating models to brace for the long-term effects of the pandemic.
Businesses across the globe faced multiple challenges during the pandemic. Concerns for businesses include the cost of maintaining a physical office space, managing employee schedules, keeping track of a scattered workforce, and ensuring that everyone has access to the technology and tools they require.
Lack of in-office contact can make some employees feel isolated from the rest of the company. Finding the perfect balance is a never-ending process, but many people have strong views about hybrid work, which generally coincide with their personal preferences. When it comes to setting standards and expectations for employees, this presents a unique problem for business leaders.
Here are three truths regarding hybrid work that leaders can’t ignore, as well as how to confront them.
Achieving equality of opportunity is a must
Office and remote workers should have equal opportunities for collaboration and recognition for a hybrid model to perform effectively. Remote workers work nearly twice as much overtime as their in-office colleagues but are less than half as likely to get promoted during a five-year period, according to data from the 2021 UK’s Office of National Statistics (ONS).
When businesses add in the digital flood and Zoom fatigue, remote employees can be at an even greater disadvantage: both of these factors can cause remote workers to seek new employment more frequently than their office-bound counterparts. Flexible working should be de-stigmatized by giving remote workers the opportunity to engage and innovate with their coworkers. Managers should check in on a frequent basis to ensure that this is occurring and to promote a team spirit.
Workplace resentment is a real thing
Employees who spend the majority of their time at the office can develop resentment toward those who do not, lowering overall productivity. This is frequently caused by a lack of perceived flexibility and remuneration.
The best way to close this gap is to provide in-office employees with the same flexible working options as those who work remotely. If this isn’t practicable, employers should make it clear that work performance is assessed by results rather than time. The amount of time an employee spends online or in the office should not be used as a productivity indicator.
This approach should be applied outside of the office too. In today’s society, being busy is frequently considered a badge of honor, so it’s critical for managers to check in with employees on a regular basis and discuss any concerns about the amount of workload or feelings of being overwhelmed.
Barriers in technology are unavoidable
At the start of the pandemic, most organizations had to immediately migrate at least some of their processes from on-site to digital. This inexorably revealed which processes needed to be redesigned in order to succeed in the remote and hybrid environment.
User experience was critical for employees to adjust to new technologies and processes in the businesses that prospered. While many technological upgrades were necessary and welcomed, the rate of adoption was rapid, resulting in implementation issues, security vulnerabilities, IT downtime, and disruptions to workflow and business operations in some situations.
It would be an understatement to say that the COVID-induced growth of cloud technology and more digital operations generated a learning curve for businesses. Many people are still adjusting to the new work environment and managing employees who work remotely and elsewhere. Any technology overhaul should always prioritize the user experience, but it’s also critical to establish security measures, communication, and training so that employees feel comfortable using the new tools at their disposal.