How Can We Solve the Problems of Hybrid Work Models?

by: Camille Witbeck, Ph.D.

For many candidates, the 9-to-5 model of coming into the office every day is a sticking point in their evaluation of job opportunities. Not only have employees cut back on their commuting time since 2019, but they’ve also felt a greater sense of autonomy over their schedule and environment, something candidates tell us is high on the list of things they look for during their job search. For employees eager to grow their headcount, not offering a hybrid work schedule will likely be a hurdle to attracting a large pool of candidates.

The question many of our clients are asking, given the push for hybrid work environments, is not so much if hybrid models should continue, but how to ensure their success. Because, let’s face it, even if the hybrid option has plenty of perks, there are concerns, from employees not having access to much-needed equipment and office space, to feeling isolated from their coworkers. Below are two major considerations that should be top of mind for employers looking to grow their team in a hybrid work environment:

It’s harder to casually communicate with coworkers

It takes just that much more effort to have a 15-minute chat with coworkers over Microsoft Teams than to casually run into them at the office water cooler, but many are worried that that extra bit of friction causes missed opportunities which leads to larger, unforeseen problems down the road.

The best way to deal with this at the moment seems to be chat features on apps like Slack or Teams, but other solutions may also encourage the casual run-in. These include setting aside weekly check-ins with one another, building a culture that expects coworkers to initiate these kinds of conversations, and encouraging a daily schedule that allows some space for casually connecting with others. Perhaps it will never be the same as being in the office, but employers can certainly prioritize this concern and experiment with some solutions, and continually engage with employees on the topic.

Coworkers feel less connected with one another

With everyone working alone in their own rooms, it can be more difficult to feel a sense of shared goals and shared successes. To solve for this, try sharing each other’s successes over group emails and holding weekly group chats where discussions aren’t about work tasks but are instead answering questions like, “What’s something that went well this week?”

Also, we recommend creating a day where everyone actually wants to come into the office. This Harvard Business Review article explores how to design a “super day” that helps people feel energized and motivated about the company’s long-term goals and values. “Super days” might offer lunches, interviews with senior leaders, outside speakers, book clubs, or workshops. If losing the company culture due to remote and hybrid work concerns employers, then providing moments where employees want to come together in person can help remedy that.

Since many are looking to continue hybrid work, it’s important to think through how to make that environment effective and sustainable. There are certainly some potential pitfalls to hybridity–the lack of casual communication and feelings of isolation—but rather than shutting it down altogether, leaders have an opportunity to reflect on their company’s values, explore different options, and experiment on them.

If you are looking to dive even deeper, here are a few helpful articles to check out are: How to Do Hybrid Work Right; 5 Challenges of Hybrid Work and How to Overcome Them; 3 Tensions Leaders Need to Manage in the Hybrid Workplace)

 

Camille Witbeck, Ph.D. is a Project Manager of ECA Partners. She can be reached at cwitbeck@eca-partners.com.

Published On: March 11th, 2022|Categories: Human Resources|

Share This Post

Recent Posts

Categories

Get in touch to discuss your talent needs.

GET STARTED