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How to Adapt to New Work Arrangements Post-Pandemic
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How to Adapt to New Work Arrangements Post-Pandemic

By Priyobroto June 03, 2024 - 12 views

The pandemic has completely transformed our lives and this has naturally extended into the way we work. Multiple companies are already transitioning to a combination of on-site and remote working through the virtual and hybrid model. This will naturally enable higher access to skilled talent and productivity along with lower costs, smaller teams, enhanced flexibility, and better experiences for employees. However, it is easier said than done.

Even Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer concluded an experiment in remote working once, stating how the company had to become one Yahoo! once more. Even HP Inc. did the same thing for various reasons. Let us look at adaptation to newer working arrangements after the pandemic that deserve careful attention.

Remapping the Work Arrangement Paradigm

There has been a lot of talk about the downsides of remote work, including how it hinders the development of a company culture, shared trust, and of course, common values. It may also lead to the emergence of dual organizational cultures, majorly influenced by managers and in-person employees who profit from the positive collaboration and face-to-face brainstorming sessions, while remote workers may end up feeling ore isolated and unhappy as a result. A common sense of belonging and purpose may also be hindered due to hybrid models or completely remote ways of working.

So, as an organization/leader, how do you adapt to new work arrangements? This requires a careful remapping of the entire paradigm with a view towards carefully bypassing these downsides, while ensuring better interactions for improved social cohesion. The first step depends on selecting a suitable work model before you implement the same throughout the organization. The decision should depend not only on costs, but also optimizing talent access, employee experiences, productivity, and so on. Here are a few ways in which you can ensure the maximum possible utilization of your work model.

New Work Arrangement Adaptation- Things Worth Noting

Here are a few aspects that you should consider while carefully switching to new post-pandemic work arrangements.

1. Completely Virtual Models-

  • These are usually recommended for those in particular sectors like call centers (outsourced), telesales, customer service, PR, publishing, and so on.
  • Some other sectors may include research and information services, marketing, software development, IT, and so on.
  • You should be careful about making a totally-virtual shift and keep your company dynamics in mind.
  • Some entities may find this model better while some may want to choose on-premises work models.
  • Some may also require a balance between on-site and remote work.

2. Staying Hybrid-

  • If you are in the middle of on-site and virtual work, then you should track the employee percentage remotely taking care of operations and the frequency of the same.
  • Suppose 80% of them do this but only for a single day in the week and the other four days are for on-premises collaborations and social interactions. In this case, you may do well with a partially-remote model.
  • Again, in case 1/3rd of your workers are remote, but are doing this 90% of the time, then there are more social cohesion barriers. They will miss interactions with 2/3rds of people working on site.
  • You can thus think of bringing more people into the office in the first category, while also creating micro-hubs or other hubs which may be better options.
  • It will be easier for employees to travel to regional hubs, while making the culture less monolithic and demanding.

3. Work Speed and Higher Productivity-

  • The solution to ensuring productivity will lie in your own specific scenario.
  • You should not get into the common habit of tracking activity and inputs in lieu of actual work productivity.
  • Metrics should not look at volume of activity, but rather adopt a more holistic perspective.
  • Inputs may lead you struggling with the hours spent by workers at their computers in a hybrid model.
  • The answer lies in smaller teams with micro-leadership models that can ensure organizational success and productivity with more empowering and less-controlling styles of management.
  • Leaders and companies should look at ensuring productivity through clearly defined and step-wise outcomes across levels with smaller teams. This will help estimate how the model is working, instead of particular activities or the time that you spend on the same.
  • Teams should be empowered with higher autonomy, accountability, and objectives for work delivery.
  • Leaders have to inspire and guide smaller teams, enabling overcoming administrative hurdles that otherwise act like speed-breakers to various projects.
  • An outcome-based approach is always the need of the hour in this case. For instance, Netflix does not track its productivity based on inputs, but by outcomes. You should aim at following a similar approach.

4. Transitioning Smartly-

  • Companies usually flourish through shared trust, purpose, and belonging.
  • Whenever dual cultures emerge, the in-person one dominates and isolates those who are remotely working.
  • The problem may be further compounded in case on-site workers dominate promotions, benefits, and other perks too.
  • You should focus on acculturating new employees while offering periodic hands-on coaching and other initiatives that assimilate both in-person and remote workers.
  • Your leadership style should break down teams into smaller numbers, while mixing both types of workers and making sure that employee experience is consistent across the board.

5. Leadership Management-

  • Wider and more geographically spread-out teams always pose challenges for leadership teams and managers.
  • Many leaders who were highly functional in the on-site model may not have the same dexterity with hybrid and virtual systems.
  • Leaders will now have to learn how to operate flexibly in terms of interactions, bringing the same purpose to in-person or virtual meetings.
  • They should set the template for social interactions in hybrid models, while defining the new work template that enables the building of trust and social cohesion.
  • Leadership should be less hierarchical and more aligned towards inspirational forms that compensate for lower socio-emotional attributes of virtual work modes/channels.

6. Informal Interactions Work Best-

  • Cultivating the culture of informal interactions is crucial.
  • Unplanned meetings and collaborations are healthy for innovation and building shared relationships, while also filling up enterprise-level silos and boosting social networks accordingly.
  • Leaders should adopt new approaches towards creating common virtual fireside chat forums without structured templates.
  • The idea should be for remote employees to feel easily connected to their leaders and the interactions should be kept at het same level as those in cafeterias or other informal spaces.
  • Some other approaches include social events, virtual conferences, coffee rooms, private chat rooms, groups and sessions, and more.

7. Emphasis on Leadership Stance-

  • Leaders often neglect how their actions or activities are interpreted or seen by other people.
  • If you wish to make it clear that you want to transition to virtual and hybrid work models, then coming to the office each day and setting up in-person meetings will send the opposite message.
  • If you work from home at least 1-2 days or more every week, then it will signal to people that they can be productive anywhere, without the HQ being the center of gravity for all the action.

8. Virtual Interactions are Not the Only Solution-

  • Eventually face-to-face interactions cannot be replaced entirely, since nonverbal cues still make up a lot of our daily communication.
  • Hence, you should not depend entirely on virtual interactions.
  • You should thus look at communication modes which are not synchronous, such as texts and emails, which may give people time to process things and respond better after giving it a thought.
  • Whenever it comes to talking about sensitive and important work aspects like pay, promotions, and performance, prioritize occasional face-to-face communication. If not possible, then opt for videoconferencing, since it will help you at least see how the employee responds.
  • You should have everyone in person at least a few times every year even if the work can be fully done virtually. This will help deepen relationships among teams and colleagues.

9. Building Safer Spaces-

  • Psychological safety is essential at work, particularly in hybrid working models.
  • Build a culture with private chat rooms and safe spaces where employees can virtually voice concerns, speak up about things, and even share ideas.
  • You should also be supportive of those requesting for flexible approaches towards getting work done in order to accommodate personal requirements.

Signing Off

As can be seen, there should be a lot of thought and effort put into designing hybrid work models that actually keep teams close, while helping organizations enjoy the productivity benefits alongside. Always keep time-zone gaps in mind and build teams with a minimum of four hours of overlap to enable collaborations while emphasizing virtual meetings across the entire team whenever possible.

Based on a report by the Economic Times, a top work-from-home researcher and Stanford professor Nick Bloom, mentioned how typical global employees desire moderate hybrid systems. Hence, instead of going full throttle with the back to work model, focus on building proper infrastructure and support systems for employees. Embrace flexibility since ultimately it is all about staying in sync with the evolving world and getting the job done successfully. That’s what matters eventually.

FAQs

How much flexibility will I have in choosing when and where I work under a hybrid model?

It all depends on the organizational policy adopted by your company. If it has a supportive approach towards flexi-working and hybrid models, then you may have more flexibility in choosing your work hours which are not necessarily official business hours in many cases, and also your location.

How can we effectively measure and evaluate employee performance in a hybrid work environment?

An outcome-based tracking/measurement model is more effective in tracking employee performance in hybrid work environments. This is more effective than tracking work volumes or inputs.

What are the primary benefits of implementing a hybrid work model for both employees and employers?

Some of the primary advantages of executing hybrid work models including better flexibility and work-life balance for employees, along with higher productivity due to zero commutes, and better quality of life. Employers benefit from lower costs overall in terms of office space and associated amenities along with time and productivity lags. They can also track employees instantly via digital channels.

Can a hybrid model stifle in-person brainstorming and collaboration, potentially hindering innovation?

Hybrid models may sometimes pose challenges to brainstorming and collaborating in person, thereby hindering overall innovation. However, while it cannot be a substitute for real-world communication, employers can integrate a suitable approach and use the right infrastructure to help people regularly catch up and ideate digitally.

Can a hybrid model with a reduced office footprint contribute to a company’s sustainability goals by lowering its carbon footprint?

Yes, hybrid models with lower footprints in office will naturally contribute towards a reduced carbon footprint and overall sustainability objectives of employers. This will lead to lower consumption of resources, thereby instilling more environment-friendliness into the workplace.

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