The corporate landscape is changing right before our eyes. Numerous adjustments were seen in real time as companies grappled with the events of 2020, but the truth is that said events only accelerated changes that were already taking place. One of those is the rise of remote and hybrid working conditions.
Hybrid work is, of course, the ability to move somewhat freely from home to office during the workweek. Employees will commute to the office on occasion, which allows them to attend meetings and enjoy the company of coworkers. On other days, they can enjoy the flexibility of working from the comfort of their home close to family.
This rapid change to hybrid work is affecting numerous other workplace trends. Here are a few you should keep an eye on throughout the remainder of 2021:
1. Companies that identify the best balance will thrive.
Managing employees while they’re at home and in the office is a challenging balancing act for businesses. The same techniques you use for directing employees in the office might not work as well on the days they’re at home. Companies that can effectively balance both work spaces will be the ones that thrive in 2021.
For starters, how will your company keep everyone connected while they’re moving to and from the office? This is a particular problem for organizations with flexible scheduling, which allows employees to set the days they would like to work from home. They must be kept in the loop even when they’re not physically present.
Additionally, being cautious of time spent in meetings and other activities is extremely important. Try to shorten up your meetings so that you have extra time for mental breaks. Google Calendar makes this easy when you choose the “Speedy Meetings” option. It will automatically cut half-hour meetings to 25 minutes (and hour-long or longer meetings by 10 minutes) to both encourage efficient meetings and build in transition times between them.
2. Technology will become even more critical to the workplace.
Technology has always been important for modern businesses, but with remote work in the mix, it’s more important than ever. Let’s tackle that question on connectivity in more depth. Companies will have to rely on technology in order to maintain the communication needed for a hybrid team to run on all cylinders.
Project management software has seen huge spikes in usage since the Covid-19 pandemic struck, and for good reason. This digital tool allows teams to set up projects, organize tasks, set deadlines, send messages, and so much more all online. It enabled thousands of teams to keep operations running even while sheltered in place.
If you’ve been stingy with the number of SaaS solutions your company shells out for each month, it might be time to rethink your strategy. Not only are there a number of free options worth trying out, but implementing software is often worth every penny. The increased productivity you get out of new technology will far outweigh the subscription fee you pay for it.
Employees will also have to up their tech game. In order to work from home more effectively, workers will need at the very least a high-quality computer and any other tools they feel will be necessary to perform their duties. Consider purchasing microphones or webcams for your team to help with meeting quality, or pitch in to get them some monitors for their home offices.
3. Recruiting the right people will be vital.
Your recruitment strategy will need to change to accommodate hybrid work. In order to pull off successful hybrid work, companies must hire employees who can handle the weekly transition from home to office and can maintain good communication throughout.
Communication skills are always sought after, but they should become an even higher priority for remote and hybrid workers. A general understanding of technology will also be essential when relying on project management software and more to stay connected and productive.
Perhaps most important of all will be the trust built between each new and existing employee. You need to be able to trust your workers to complete their tasks while at home without direct supervision. In return, these employees will expect you not to micromanage them while they enjoy their flexibility at home.
How do you know who can handle the balance of hybrid work before hiring them? Start by asking for references to gauge how they handled such situations in the past. You can also issue different personality tests or start them off as a part-timer or freelancer working from home to get a read on their reliability.
4. Tracking goals and performance metrics will grow in importance.
Up until now, many organizations were able to get away without tracking goals and performance metrics too heavily or consistently. This is due in large part to the manager’s ability to oversee everything on the office floor, often a little too closely. To ensure productivity remains high, robust metrics tracking needs to become a habitual practice for all companies.
Ultimately, companies shouldn’t care whether employees work from home or in the office as long as their work is still getting done. In fact, studies have shown that working from home can even make employees more productive. However, companies will only be able to gauge that productivity when performance is being measured.
Start by deciding what metrics you want to measure. For a call center rep, that could be time spent on each call, number of calls made, and sales closed. Set goals in accordance with those metrics. No matter where employees are working from, they should be able to meet the goals they set with you and your team.
Make sure you’re on the right side of history by staying ahead of these trends. Falling behind can be costly, especially as other innovative companies grab hold of the best employees and more market share. Use hybrid work to your advantage, and you’ll be able to enjoy those same benefits and more for your business.
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