In the past year, the world has seen drastic changes in not just everyone’s personal lives but professional lives too. According to a report by Guardian, an estimated 40 million people lost their jobs due to COVID-19. Following the guidelines given by the WHO, the way people live, move around, go to offices and work, has turned upside down.
The deadly virus that 2020 brought upon us has disrupted the working patterns. One of the biggest changes that the pandemic has brought is the shift of work from an office to remote work. Worldwide lockdowns led to the closure of many offices.
At the beginning of 2021, when the world finally saw some hope in the form of vaccines, many workplaces reopened. Not much time had passed and the delta variant wreaked havoc on the work culture once again. So we’re now quite sure that the pandemic is here to stay for a long time. We need to change our lives to accommodate the virus and make our work better by following the guidelines given by WHO, or by keeping everything remote.
In this article, we list some ways and strategies for employers to help employees adjust to the pandemic-stricken work culture. But first, let’s focus on the future of the workplace i.e. hybrid.
Hybrid Workplace: What is it?
The pandemic gave rise to a system of work where employers constantly try to make sure their remote employees have the resources to achieve the organizational goals. Be it productivity. motivation or sanity, employers now find themselves at a crossroads making sure employees have them all.
So what is the future of work? A blend of on-site employees and remote employees pave way for a system called the hybrid workplace. Whether you accept it or not, the future of work is hybrid, at least until the pandemic remains.
A hybrid workplace combines both remote and office work. Although it varies, in a hybrid workplace the skeletal staff works on-site while others are allowed to work from home in most organizations. If you’re considering shifting to a hybrid workplace, you’ll see several benefits:
Prevents the Spread
The whole point of a hybrid workplace is to have few people on-site to prevent the spread of the virus. When most people will work from home, with just some employees present on site, the disease will spread slowly. One condition that applies here is that people who work in the office should take precautionary measures such as wear masks to protect themselves and others.
Hybrid workplaces allow more flexibility. Employees get a lot of time to relax. Some employees like starting their day late and work till late at night and remote work allows that. When employees are well-rested and less stressed, they are likely to be more productive and face less fatigue.
Leads to Happiness
A survey reveals that employees who work from home are more likely to be happy. When they are close to a loved one, work becomes fun. Secondly, not having to dress up formally for work every day is liberating and saves a lot of time. Other reports tell that employees find work more enjoyable if they’re with their pets.
One of the biggest upsides of setting up a hybrid workplace is that it cuts down the cost. Having a team working on-site consumes space, power, and other resources. So when most people are working from home, it ultimately cuts down that cost.
While having a hybrid workplace is a good way to help employees navigate to work these days, it has some disadvantages. Let’s have a look at a few of them:
Employees May Feel Isolated
Perhaps a big downside of having a remote setup is that employers and employees both may end up feeling isolated. Working remotely can take its toll on employee’s mental health as well. With no one from work around an employee, they may feel left out.
Sometimes in hybrid workplaces, employees tend to work more than usual. They stay up late at night to finish the work and that leads to burnout. Not to forget the effect it has on employees’ physical health. Overworking and stress are also some of the biggest causes of fatal diseases like diabetes and heart problems.
Although a sedentary lifestyle is common in both the pre-covid and post-covid eras, it is especially increasing now. Before the pandemic began, workers would go to the gym and keep themselves healthy after working for hours. However, after the pandemic, there is a limit to going to places with a crowd. Therefore, diseases like diabetes are increasing.
Working in front of the screen for the whole day has drastic effects on our eyes. Be it attending meetings, submitting reports, working generally, everything is done on a screen nowadays. It has especially increased since the pandemic. Conditions like eye strain, dry eyes are commonly reported among many employees.
Not everyone has the convenience of having the fastest internet connection. Sometimes employees’ work is disrupted due to poor connectivity. In a hybrid workspace, most of the work is done online, and without a stable wifi connection, this can be hard to accomplish.
After the pandemic began, ways to navigate the future of work are what we all seek. Employers need to help employees navigate through the workplace future and help them adjust. The good news is that most employees prefer working from home. According to statistics revealed by LeadershipIQ, only 9% of employees want to work from an office and around 59% say their work-life balance is better by working from home.
Working remotely, in person, or a hybrid workplace, employers can help employees navigate to the future workplace in several ways. Listed below are 16 tips for both types:
For On-Site Employees:
When it comes to the pandemic, on-site employees need to take good care of themselves and others to prevent the spread. Here are some tips you can use to help your employees who are present on-site navigate to work:
Cater to Their Needs
So the first and foremost thing to help your employees navigate to work is to take care of their needs. For that, you need to ask them if they’re okay with working either on-site or from home. Listen carefully to their needs and then craft a work environment that best suits their needs.
Keep a Check
Make sure to keep a check on what happens in your workplace. You should be aware of how happy or satisfied your employees are with working in such an environment. Besides, you should also be keeping a check on precautionary measures being followed. Educate your employees on how to save themselves and others by getting vaccinated, wearing masks, and sanitizing.
Covid times are already hard on each one of us. In a situation like this, the least you can do is allow flexibility in the workplace. Although many employees prefer working from home, ask them if they would rather work on site. Home or office, make sure they feel productive and comfortable wherever they work.
Setting priorities is important. List all the tasks that require an on-site presence and those that can be dealt with remotely. If a task can be easily done at home then encourage your employees to work from home.
Regularly Check for Progress
Regularly checking the progress of employees helps you get an idea of where the team stands. It is especially important now when most of us don’t get to meet every day. Sometimes employees may feel lazy and procrastinate considering no one is checking up on them. So it’s always a great idea to regularly check what is currently happening with the team.
Keep an Eye on Issues
If an employee isn’t adjusting well to anything in this environment then consider changing it. Keep an eye on any issues that your employees may be facing with no one around to help them solve them.
Trust is the key. Make sure your employees trust you as their leader and likewise. For a healthy environment, trust must exist between both of you. They should be aware that you believe in them and pacify them by making them feel that we are all together in this crisis.
Recognize and Appreciate
For everything that your employees do for you, despite a deadly pandemic, recognize and appreciate them. In this way, they will feel valued and will be motivated to do more. Doing so is also a great way to let your employees know that they matter to your organization.
Hone Their Skills
Who knows when the pandemic will go away. It is therefore your duty to hone your employees’ skills to prepare them for the future workplace. For that, you may need to equip them with resources to effectively manage both on-site and remote work.
For Remote Employees:
Below are some tips for your remote employees to help them navigate to work:
Just like it is important for on-site employees to prioritize their tasks, it’s important for remote employees too. Make your employees set a schedule for which tasks they should be taking up for home and which ones would need on-site presence.
Keep Everything Flexible
Working from home is different because sometimes employees can feel isolated as there is limited interaction. Make sure you have a flexible policy that allows employees to have a life out of work as well. Rigid culture isn’t successful at all now.
Working tirelessly in front of screens is exhausting. Encourage remote employees to take breaks and avoid working overtime. They should know how this can directly affect their health. Ensure a flexible leave policy especially a sick leave.
Make Sure They Have the Resources
Since hybrid workplaces are the future, ensure that your remote employees have the required resources at their homes. This can include a stable wifi connection, a place to work, or anything of that sort. Otherwise, this can cause hindrance in meeting organizational goals. Most companies now offer their remote employees allowance to afford a good internet connection, a desk, and a chair if they don’t have one already.
Encourage Them to Rest
For those employees that make it everything about work, encourage them to rest. In some cases, employees end up working extra hours which isn’t always the best thing to do. Make them rest and encourage them to practice flexibility.
Encourage Them to Stay Active
On-site workers come at a specific time and then go back to their homes to rest. Remote workers however often end up sitting on the couch all day, working hard to finish their tasks. They rarely get up to exercise or even take a walk. Make sure to encourage them to stay active and healthy. This doesn’t have to be a complex exercise. Even a walk for 30 minutes can help a lot. Employees can install apps and join online wellness programs to stay active and check progress.
Regularly Follow Up
Lastly, remote workers are away from you. You don’t get to see them every day so it is often hard to keep a check on their progress. To help them navigate to work, it is a great idea to follow up regularly with them. If not daily, set up a recurring weekly meeting with them. That way you’ll know about their progress and if they’re facing any roadblocks in their work.
Now we know that the pandemic has turned our lives upside down and that a hybrid workplace is the future of work. It is your duty to help your employees navigate to work considering the future and adjust to this culture. Make sure you follow these tips when implementing your hybrid workplace policy.