Finding the right connection in the new hybrid work environment

5 mins read

Authored by Vaibhav Jain, CEO, and Founder of Hubilo | 26 January 2022

Vaibhav Jain

CEO, and Founder of Hubilo

Hybrid work is not a new concept, but it is something that has become mainstream over the past two years.

But beyond collaborating the virtual and physical, what is hybrid work really about? The post-pandemic reopening is still very much subject to the volatile Covid-19 situation, and many companies are scrambling on their feet to find that perfect blend of working style that can adapt to the hyper-digital workplace.

In addition, employee lifestyles and preferences have changed drastically after experiencing the perks and downsides of a work-from-home arrangement. Increased productivity and time saved from travelling to and from the office are some of the boons, but many unhappy campers are also struggling from personal isolation and lack of company unification created through remote work. These naysayers see the disadvantages outweigh the positives in remote work and fear a remote-work future. 

The divided opinions result in a great disparity in how we perceive the future of work and how we should go about it. And perhaps, what the workplace is looking for is a great sustainable reset.  

Step into the brave new world of a hybrid

There needs to be a great overhaul of the way we work. The pandemic has shown us that boundaries of work and play have blurred, with the nine-to-five grind painfully stretching into more of an around the clock, five-day work week.

It is time to redesign and reimagine a model that gets the workplace experience right for all employees. To get the best of both worlds, in-person and remote, the answer is hybrid.  

A recent study by Slack found that flexibility is the key driver that makes remote work a positive experience and hybrid work a desirable model over the long term. It serves as a perfect in-between, allowing employees to work from anywhere and during times that work best for them. 

Companies, too, benefit greatly from such an arrangement. They can expand the pool of talent they can hire and, in turn, drive business growth.

Adopt flexibility in the face of change 

Our adaptability has become a great asset when we transitioned from in-person to completely remote. We learned that we can thrive no matter what challenges we go through and make the best out of what we have. 

And in that process, we discovered what we needed, such as having flexible time to recharge, exercise, sleep, and take care of other priorities such as childcare, eldercare, pet care, and more. We are happier and at more mental ease. 

Such flexibility allows for greater autonomy and well-being, a blessing in disguise ever since the disruptive effects of the pandemic have trapped us.

Where work is done is no longer one-size-fits-all. When work gets done is also up for debate as companies that have made the shift to remote work allow employees to work asynchronous schedules. 

The Great Resignation or The Great Disengagement

The Great Resignation is a manifestation of employee burnout due to a lack of motivation, chronic workplace stress, anxiety, and factors that pointed at the correlation of employee turnover rate and a disengaged workforce. 

These hurdles proved to be augh to crack in today’s dispersed environment and flexible working models, especially when companies do not dedicate enough resources and attention to employee engagement. 

This disengagement is also similar to the challenges faced by the events industry. For one, while 73% of planners have been able to pivot their in-person events to full-virtual events successfully, many struggled as to how to engage attendees. This goes to show that this lack of engagement permeates several industries, so it’s worth looking into the best practices of other sectors and companies and study how this can also be translated into our own organisations.

Engage your employees for a far bigger impact

Employee disengagement does not happen out of the blue. Oftentimes, it is a gradual repetition of monotonous, tiresome interactions that just don’t seem to get better over time. Employees might think that the next meeting will get better, but most of the time, these are left unchecked.

Indeed, it is an organisational problem. Leaders need to go above and beyond to ensure a productive, engaged, and innovative team. 

It involves looking into seemingly simple work processes such as communication and document sharing to task delegation and tech support and modifying it to fit the remote working environment.

With that said, engagement goes both ways, and it is not just the leaders’ role to keep the employees engaged. In fact, employees also need to do their part in proactively communicating not just with their bosses, but also with each other.

Take, for example, how virtual and hybrid event platforms do it. Now that in-person events are a rarity, virtual engagement had to be amplified even more online, be it through posting real-time updates, commenting on each other’s posts, or dropping an emoji reaction when someone said something interesting.

As such, in the business world, it is crucial to think out of the box to invest and integrate hybrid workplace technologies, gamification, and asynchronous collaboration that fit into the usual mundane work routine.

This may prove to be transformational for organisations and even help to create shared experiences that can define and cultivate a healthy, organic workplace culture. And sometimes, it is about the small, personal touches like celebrating non-work-related events, and having fun social moments together that make employees feel even more connected to one another.

Create your own perfect blend

Embracing the concept of multi-modal workplaces means there may be instances when a company chooses to be completely remote and when it determines that it needs to be in-person.

An all-remote model and hybrid-remote model exist in various spectrums of flexibility, and as such, the hybrid work model will vary from company to company. There are several good practices that a company can adopt, but it really boils down to finding the right fit and connection points for the organisation. It is vital that they customise work arrangements unique to their objectives, circumstances, and employees’ preferences.

They can even look into enhancing compensation, perks, and work-life balance initiatives as employees are increasingly looking into these factors that are not only meaningful but also indicative of an inclusive workplace environment they want to be part of.

For us at Hubilo, we believe that an empowering and positive workplace starts with having an engaged workforce. It is the crux of employee satisfaction that directly translates to cost savings such as work productivity.

One might assume that we immediately found the arrangement or practices that perfectly fit us as a digitally driven company, yet that’s not the case. It did have some advantages, but it took time and effort to find that right connection that created a happy and healthy workplace that we aspired to have. And we continue to work to nail it.

That’s the kind of mindset we want to spread and share – one that banks on engagement, inclusivity, and sustainability. It is never to stop experimenting and just keep the creative juices flowing.

Now with hindsight, what vibe does your company currently give off, and what steps will you take to get to your empowering hybrid work environment?