Things are no longer the same as they were earlier. Different parts of life have gone through critical shifts during pandemic, working culture is not an exception. Various aspects of work are evolving and even shifting entirely. People being at the centre of this whole process, the concept of 'working flexibly' is rooting in this transforming work culture.
The flexible work culture, which is now what we call a 'Hybrid working model' can't be considered as a whole new concept. Various developed countries are already dealing with such models. Industries in India are also well-aware about it; however, they were not much adaptable towards the same until the pandemic got the ball rolling.
In today's scenario, Indian industries are increasingly trying to set a hybrid model of work in their organisations. Different factors are influencing this transformation and the very first factor to consider is- Employees gaining tremendous interest in flexible work options. However, even if this change is employee-triggered, not only employees, but also, an entire organisation is going to benefit out of it and reasons behind it are well demonstrated by successful companies who are working hybrid. On the other side of the coin, looking at a whole new generation of employees and their mind-sets, most of them are keen to make the hybrid working model a success.
Trust the process
Being a chairperson of my organisation, Interlink, I have also experienced the pandemic-induced disturbance in work patterns and what I have learnt through it is- Trust the process...Once in a while, the revolutionary conditions like pandemic happen, and leave us with sense of realisation that what actually our organisation can do and what's it's true potential is. I never thought about working remotely and if I can survive such business trauma. But today, I'm glad that we, as an organisation, not only survived but made excellent revenue during the lockdown even without being at office for any of the meetings.
Change is inevitable, and knowing that there is no other option, it makes us go beyond our comfort zone and explore more.
While exploring how well my organisation can fit into these hybrid working models, I came across the fact that there are a number of challenges that my (or any) organisation can face while adapting to the new working culture. It's essential that every organisation should do the 'Pros & Cons' analysis before diving into an entirely different ocean of work culture.
In my opinion, following are challenges (few out of many) which any organisation can face with hybrid working models and hence, the solutions should be handy so that it will not turn out to be 'playing a losing game'-
Scattered playing field
Major challenge the hybrid working model can face is in terms of ' effective work distribution'. Hybrid models are of various types, including complete remote working, half-staff on field and half at home, working from office for a couple of days in a week and rest of the days from home, etc. Hence, the issue of unequal work distribution among employees may happen not knowing the workload of each of them. In such cases, one more possibility can't be ignored is- employees may feel excluded which can lower their interest in the work.
The way out- There should be a strict meeting etiquette where video calls should be prioritised over the phone calls. At management level, the work distribution should be considered as an important aspect and there should be an authority checking on work loads of each employee and taking follow-ups of the tasks assigned.
Shaping the workforce (especially new talent)
Leaders play an important role in shaping the mindsets of their teams. In terms of new employees in an organisation, hybrid working models can be challenging while conveying the working ethics and standard of an organisation. In other terms, effective role distribution can be an issue which may require a unique style of handling.
The way out- Creating opportunities for the entire team to connect and get-together once or twice in a month could be an effective way of interaction where employees can have spontaneous communication with their peers and understand expectations of an organisation. Such gathering can be essential in terms of achieving support and guidance.
Informal online sessions, in which employees can chat freely and share their creative mindsets can lead to innovative ideas exchange and better involvement.
Employee engagement at workplace
With the hybrid working models, employees are going to come to the offices for very specific reasons. Hence, the workplace experience has to be updated for engaging staff in the offices. Possibility can't be neglected that, in future, employees may like to work at their home offices more than that of their actual ones. If the office is not engaging, creative and collaborative, such conditions can lead to the employee job change.
The way out- To keep an employee engaged in the office, offering them something that their home office doesn't offer could be an essential step. A welcoming workplace with some activity areas to have fun in free time can keep employees fascinated about the workplace. Offering convenience could be the next step to work on to give them a home-like feel.
These are some common challenges that can be encountered while exploring any hybrid working model. Moreover, different hybrid models have been proposed in today’s scenario, each of them can have a unique set of challenges to tackle. The organisations should study and analyse what works best for them. Future of work will be bright; organisations should play their cards wisely to make the hybrid working model a success.