Employees and employers alike have started to realize that hybrid work environments are here to stay. Zoom meetings are the norm, and many have adjusted to working from home, while others are starting to return to the office. One of the most pressing concerns facing businesses today? How to maximize productivity.
What Is a Hybrid Work Environment?
A successful hybrid work environment gives employees the ability to work productively, regardless of where they are located. They may work some days at home (or at a coworking space or coffee shop) and others in the office. This model can promote flexibility, inclusiveness, and the well-being of all team members.
That’s because one thing that the COVID-19 pandemic revealed is how different employees work. Some thrived as remote workers—maintaining a healthy work-life balance and meeting deadlines and quotas—while others didn’t. This may be because their homes were not conducive for remote work, but it could also be that some people just perform better when work and home are separate.
With a hybrid work environment, you provide work options that maximize each employee’s productivity. Flexibility is key in designing your hybrid work arrangement. You can offer the option of continuing a remote work setup for some staff while allowing employees who prefer in-person work to report to your physical office. Or every team member can have the option to work from home sometimes.
Of course, creating a hybrid work environment also involves technology upgrades, employee training, and adjusting to new work culture, among other things. For example, you can equip your employees with cloud-calling software for better communication when working from home.
While it might seem like a perfect solution, there are some pros and cons you need to consider when using this model in your company.
Pros and Challenges of Hybrid Work Environments
With all its advantages, many organizations are considering shifting to the hybrid work model. You can adjust the model to fit your employee’s preferences to boost productivity. As a result, your organization can accomplish more, while keeping employees happy.
Here are some of the pros for building a hybrid work environment:
Convenience and flexibility
Increased hiring options
It’s also important to take a look at some of the potential difficulties that come with hybrid models:
Creativity and collaboration: You’ll have to develop new strategies for fostering creativity for hybrid employees.
Equipment and comfort: You’ll need to make sure employees have access to everything they need to work from home.
Site visits and client interactions: Rethink what client interaction looks like and set best practices up-front. Are there some instances where you have to communicate in-person?
Training: Make sure your training and onboarding resources work for both in-person and remote employees and create inclusive onboarding activities that employees can participate in from anywhere.
Mentorship and growth: Ensure hybrid employees have access to the same level of mentorship and growth that in-person employees do.
How to Measure Productivity in Hybrid Work Environments
When you have employees working remotely, in-person, and a mix of both, you can’t rely on the typical in-person productivity metrics, so we suggest using objective productivity metrics that apply to different types of workers. That way you can create an effective, fair, and efficient hybrid work environment. Plus, you can spot signs of problems and offer help before they become serious issues, such as burnout or work mismatch.
Here are some of the productivity metrics that you might want to consider:
The rate of tasks completed on time
The number of completed tasks
Quality ratings on completed work
Feedback from customers
Activity levels during work hours
Availability during work hours
8 Steps to Boost Productivity in Hybrid Work Environments
In a recent report released by McKinsey, 90% of organizations said they are adopting a hybrid work environment, but only a handful have concrete plans for how to implement it.
Without a plan in place, your hybrid work environment can quickly become chaotic, and productivity levels could drop to an all-time low. If you’re unsure where or how to start planning a hybrid work environment, use these 8 steps to guide you.
1. Define What a Successful Hybrid Work Environment Looks Like for Your Company
There are several types of hybrid work environments impacting how your employees work. To implement the right one, you need to define what a successful hybrid work environment looks like.
Here are some things to consider:
The nature of your company’s work
Your organization’s capabilities to adapt to a hybrid work environment (e.g., budget, data security, etc.)
Employee work preferences (what work model is better for employee productivity?)
Your definition of productivity
2. Determine Where Employees Work Best
In a report published by PwC, 44% of employers stated that their employees were more productive in a remote work setup. In contrast, only 29% of employees felt that they were productive.
Many factors contribute to these discrepancies. That’s why it’s crucial to understand where each employee performs well. To find out, start by comparing employee key performance indicators (KPIs) before and during the pandemic to get an objective understanding of what works best for them.
Along with that, we suggest including your employees in the conversation to determine what factors affect their productivity. Once you know what they think, you can help them achieve their peak productivity levels.
3. Align on Hybrid Work Schedules Across Teams
Because not everyone in your organization will be working in the same space or at the same time, projects that require cross-team collaboration can suffer in hybrid environments. You may have some employees that work from different time zones or some projects that need all team members to work together. Thus, making sure that your employees and team schedules align is paramount to the productivity levels and success of a hybrid work environment.
One way to achieve this is to have a task manager that everyone has access to, like Asana, Jira, or Monday. This way, an employee can see the projects assigned to them, who they’re working with, and the schedules of their fellow team members.
4. Invest in Collaborative Tools and Software
You can’t have an effective hybrid work environment without collaboration. Although collaboration may seem challenging, there are available tools and software that make it possible.
For example, cloud calling software allows employees to effortlessly communicate and collaborate across different locations and time zones. Plus, with the right software, you can integrate it with productivity and office management tools, improving team collaboration and productivity even further.
5. Improve Your Hybrid Work Environment by Creating Multiple Feedback Channels
Even with the best efforts, your hybrid work environment won’t be perfect at the start, so be open to feedback from clients and employees and adjust accordingly. You can do this by having weekly one-on-one checkups with your employees to see how they adapt to the new work model. Another is to send survey forms to clients to identify any oversights or flaws in your operations.
Remember: Hybrid work environments are still new, so you’ll need to make room for modification and improvement.
6. Set Hybrid Employees Up for Success with KPIs
In any industry, you need KPIs to measure the success of your processes. KPIs provide an objective, data-driven outlook on the individual performances of your employees, even if they work at different paces in different spaces. These metrics tell you if your employees are struggling or excelling. It also warns you of a potential problem before it becomes a major organizational issue.
7. Avoid Burnout
One downside to remote work is that the lines between work and home can get blurred, making it easy for employees to feel burned out. A study showed that 70% of remote workers work on the weekends, and 45% answered that they work beyond 40 hours during the weekdays. This is a formula for burnout and low productivity.
One way to avoid this is to have project management software that gives you visibility on each employee’s workload. This helps you determine how long it takes for them to finish a deadline and if they’re overloaded with work.
8. Provide Manager Training
Manager bias is a serious concern in hybrid work environments. Research shows that they tend to give higher performance ratings to employees they encounter working at the office than remote workers. As a result, remote workers are unacknowledged for their work and given fewer opportunities to advance their careers.
Be sure to level the playing field by training your managers on how to overcome this bias. With this in mind, your managers will learn to mentor and manage different types of workers regardless of the hybrid work setup they’re using.
Communication: The Secret to a Productive Hybrid Workplace
Although most businesses have reported a spike in productivity with a remote work setup, some employees have expressed that they don’t want to work remotely full-time. That shows us that the hybrid work environment bridges the gap between business productivity and employee preferences.
Even with the benefits of this new work model, ensuring optimal productivity and collaboration is difficult because employees aren’t working in the same places. Not to mention managers and team leaders have less visibility of their employee’s productivity levels and workload. At the same time, mismatched schedules and miscommunication lead to poor collaboration and teamwork. Thankfully, there are solutions to these problems.
At Aircall, we understand your work-life balance. That’s why our cloud calling software integrates with all your go-to business tools so you can get set up quickly and start building better conversations.
Want to help your team reach their maximum productivity? Schedule a call with us now to find out how we can help.
Published on February 22, 2023.