How to Communicate in a Hybrid Workplace
While many employees have come to enjoy the flexibility and comfort that working remotely can offer, there may still be benefits of workers spending some time on-site. A solution may be hybrid work arrangements, as they allow employees to work remotely at times while also regularly visiting the physical workplace. Thus, hybrid workplaces are expected to become more common amongst employers across many different sectors in the post-COVID-19 world.
Communication is a key element of any successful workplace, especially in non-traditional models. As such, understanding how to maintain consistent and reliable communication in a hybrid system should be a priority.
It’s important for organisations to understand why hybrid workplaces may be an optimal choice. Remote work was already becoming more common before the coronavirus pandemic; many employees had desired such arrangements long before COVID-19 made them necessary. As such, employers should be prepared for employees to be reluctant to return to a full-time schedule on-site.
Employers should consider the mental health of their workforce. According to a study by the independent job board CV-Library, approximately 55 per cent of employees said they are experiencing anxiety about returning to a physical workplace. Of the approximately 1,100 respondents, almost 74 per cent said their employer had not offered any mental health support for the transition. Of those employees who said that their employer was offering mental health support, the most common solutions included:
- A staggered return to work and regular check-ins with a manager: 45.7 per cent
- An employee assistance programme: 40 per cent
- A ‘how to’ guide to help workers prepare for the transition: 28.6 per cent
It may be helpful to consider these solutions as well as other methods for providing support to workers who are going to be transitioning into a hybrid system.
Commuting and utilising public transport are particularly prominent issues when it comes to concern regarding a return to the physical workplace. According to a survey of 2,000 UK employees by transport management specialist Kura, nearly one-fifth of respondents said that they plan to never commute to work against following COVID-19. Furthermore, only 42 per cent said that they plan to work on-site for five days a week.
One of the key reasons many respondents said they were unwilling to commute was feelings of discomfort using public transport due to infection and a lack of social distancing.
This apprehension extends even beyond employees who might be asked to commute. A study by Milestone Systems found that nearly 40 per cent of people are more reluctant to use public transport and 10 per cent would refuse to do so at all.
Given employees’ many concerns, it may not be surprising that hybrid models could emerge as a compromise. Still, while having workers on-site sometimes may alleviate such issues, some employers may still have concerns about workplace communication within this type of arrangement.
To help managers and supervisors stay in touch with employees and to facilitate collaboration and communication between colleagues, consider emphasising the following to employees:
- Maintain connections—Many employees may feel more isolated or less connected to their colleagues and organisations as a whole while working remotely. Encourage virtual meetings during which all participants are acknowledged and greeted. Furthermore, make the most out of the time spent on-site by prompting socialisation and chit-chat.
- Establish rules—Some organisations may arrange workplaces differently than before the pandemic to maintain a certain level of social distancing. Communicate to employees any changes and provide clear guidance regarding acceptable behaviour.
- Be clear—In a hybrid work environment, it’s possible that managers and employees will be interacting with some colleagues over a video call platform and with others in person. This mixed interaction may be difficult, so instruct employees to speak clearly during meetings.
Hybrid workplaces may become the most common variant of the post-pandemic world. While employers may face difficulties and complications in optimising these arrangements, employers need to prioritise this process.
For more information on remote work and hybrid workplaces, contact us today.