But what really was the question? Well, it could be any one of these:
- How do we successfully retain the dynamic Millennials and Gen Zs?
- How do we access wider talent pools in the age of the Great Reshuffle?
- How do we ensure increased productivity in a world where we need our work to reach farther, faster, deeper and cheaper?
- How do we ensure increased cost savings for both the organization as well as the employee while doing all of the above?
The answer is Hybrid Working. So, what really is hybrid working? It is a type of blended working which comprises of employees who work remotely and those who work from an office or central location or both. It also gives you flexibility to get work done when you are most productive (which could be early in the morning for you, but late in the evening for your teammate). It means you can get the work done anytime from anywhere. Hybrid working enables the employees to structure their ‘work’ around their ‘life’ instead of their ‘life’ around their ‘work’.
Hybrid working isn’t so much about what time you work and where you work from. It is more about giving flexibility to the employee which enables them to work in a setting which is most comfortable for them. This would in turn help them be their most productive, have better work-life balance, lower cost of commute, reduce their exposure to illnesses and give them a better sense of freedom over their work schedules.
This sounds great for the employee, but what about the organisation? Hybrid working is actually best of both worlds. While saving the company real estate costs, hybrid working also gives the company access to a wider talent pool. This includes talent from newer geographies and more sections of the population like young mothers, caregivers, veterans etc. which can give your organisation a competitive edge and ensure round-the-clock productivity. Not to mention a huge tick in the diversity and inclusion box!
Sounds great! So, should every organisation jump onto the Hybrid Workplace Wagon?
Absolutely, but there are some things to keep in mind.
Hybrid model might bring inequities which the organizations need to be cognizant of. Typically, more women opt for working from home because it helps them balance between their work and caregiving responsibilities. Do they all want to be home? Idly, no. I am sure most would love the luxury of dressing up, popping into their car and having a quiet cup of coffee without someone yelling ‘Mommy!’ at the drop of the hat. Do they have the choice to do so? In most cases, sadly no. Traditionally, more men are likely to be in office than women, and this might create an unfair advantage (basically, you have to ensure that there aren’t any old boys’ clubs popping up – men who make decisions while on sutta break). The employees who are out of sight, should not be out of mind.
Also, it is unfair to people who may not have the luxury of good internet connectivity and comfortable working space at home. Sitting in an overcrowded flat with sounds from every corner and people climbing all over you while you try to take a work meeting is not an idea which most relish.
But these are minor niggles which can all be addressed effectively as we have seen many organizations doing in the pandemic scenario. Companies need to build infrastructure which support flexible work. You must encourage a work-culture where employees are communicating with each other and having team-building events such as virtual coffee chat or peer learning exchange program. Even gamifying your orientation meets could work! The work needs to be divided into modules which can be completed independently, taking decisions quickly without waiting for others to be online. The managers need to be sensitized to be empathetic to their team’s physical, mental and emotional wellbeing, while making sure they take regular feedback to ensure their engagement.
Ultimately, the organizations which adapt now will have a more productive, engaged, loyal and diverse workforce. Seems worth the effort!