Maintaining a healthy organization while going hybrid requires asking the right questions
Going hybrid affects our culture and our people, and our success depends on the questions we ask and our leadership measures. So where do we begin?
Once upon a time, work was a place to go to. Whether the commute was short or long, everybody got up in the morning, took a shower, got dressed, grabbed a coffee, and took off to their offices for yet another day on the job. Work culture meant sharing ideas, making decisions, celebrating landmarks and solving problems together, in a shared space and time.
27% respondents said they experience trouble unplugging after work, 16% feel lonely, 16% have trouble communicating and collaborating with their teammates, 15% suffer from distractions and 12% have trouble staying motivated.
Then came Covid-19. The world of work as we knew it came to a sudden stop and businesses had no choice but to shift to a remote work-mode to survive. But human nature is fascinating in the way it adapts to change. After the initial shock and an adjustment period, business leaders began to discover the benefits of working from home, such as substantial savings on rent and transportation expenses, recruiting great talent regardless of local geography and helpful technologies that assist work processes. Accordingly, employees began to appreciate how remote work relieves them of morning traffic and gives them the freedom to work anywhere and everywhere.
What began as an involuntary work mode which was forced upon us in times of global crisis, soon developed into a normalized and integral part of our personal and professional lives in post Covid-19 times. Today, as organizations are heading back to their offices, many are adopting hybrid working as a long-term model, combining both office and remote work.
But going hybrid is a dimensional change that affects our culture, our people and their wellbeing, and if not addressed correctly, can create organizational pitfalls. According to Buffer’s State of Remote Work report , 27% respondents said they experience trouble unplugging after work, 16% feel lonely, 16% have trouble communicating and collaborating with their teammates, 15% suffer from distractions and 12% have trouble staying motivated. Asking the right questions and adopting wellbeing-oriented leadership measures to address these challenges, are key for a healthy transition to remote work.
So where do we begin?
First, ask your people. The best mentors and consultants you can learn from are your people. Before diving into your work plan, start by tapping into their previous experience with remote work during Covid-19. This will help you assess your people's preferences and needs, which can be later translated to personally tailored working modes, within a cohesive workplan.
Three dimensions of change
Avoiding one size fits all approach is crucial for a successful hybrid workplan. Besides objective differences between office and remote working modes, your people also vary in their character, preferences and needs, and accordingly react differently to change. The following Three Dimensions of Change consist of important wellbeing-oriented needs that leaders should carefully address to ensure a healthy transition:
Physical Dimension: Physical refers to materialistic aspects of the transition that need to be addressed and applied, on technical, logistical, educational and financial levels.
What technologies, data and actionable tools do we need to be attuned to our employees' wellbeing? What learning process (i.e tech skills, soft skills, etc.) do our people need for a healthy transition?
How many people will be working in each mode?
What equipment and infrastructures do we need to work and communicate hybridly?
What technologies, data and actionable tools do we need to be attuned to our employees' wellbeing?
What learning process (i.e tech skills, soft skills, etc.) do our people need for a healthy transition?
What is the needed budget for the transition?
Mental Dimension: Mental refers to steps needed to ensure your people's mental and emotional resilience and health when transitioning to hybrid.
How many employees can we effectively support remotely, without harming their well-being and productivity?
What boundaries should we set in terms of workload and work hours to ensure our people's work-life balance?
How do we grasp our people's well-being and how do we address red flags that indicate stress, burnout, or other emotional problems?
How do we establish a fair and healthy performance measurement and rewards system that will allow our people to feel satisfied and appreciated, regardless of their working mode?
How do we set clear expectations and accountability processes so that both home and office-based employees understand their responsibilities and collaborate productively?
How do we communicate clear work schedules and shared calendars so that team members can keep in touch with each other as much as needed?
Cultural Dimension: Cultural refers to the necessary steps to create an engaged pro-hybrid culture in your organization. This is an important dimension, as it affects your corporate wellbeing.
How can we communicate the transition in an engaged and motivating way?
How can we create an inclusive decision-making process that avoids remote workers from feeling left out?
How can we avoid bias and limited beliefs between office and remote workers about the quality of work on each side?
How can we bring our people together for group activities, celebrations and milestones that enhance team unity, harmony and morale?
Dr. Ravit Oren is an expert and lecturer at the Bar Ilan University and the Israeli Institute of Technology in Organizational Leadership, specializing in innovative Talent Management, reward systems, and performance evaluations that create profit margins. Throughout her professional career, Dr. Oren has held several executive key positions in large industrial companies in the field of Human Capital.
Dr. Oren holds a Ph.D. from the University of Haifa, where she explores the relationship between organizational leadership and performance management.