By Dr. Sabrina Brandon Ricks, SBR Workplace Leadership Services
The traditional workplace has changed, and it is common to telework versus making a commute to an office building. According to the Harvard Business Review, Fujitsu, a Japan-based company with 80,000 employees, took a survey regarding where employees would prefer to work, at home or in the office. Pre-pandemic, 74% of employees wanted to work at the physical office building. However, after experiencing the remote workplace, the survey in 2021 indicated that only 15% of employees would prefer to physically go to the office. Thus, many organizations have tried to meet the needs of both preferences, working remotely and working at the office.
The hybrid workplace may offer some employees permanent teleworking and others permanent in-person working, while some offices are providing additional flexible options. An employee may work two to three days at home and go into the office the other two or three days of the week. There are many different ways to meet the needs of employees that allow the goals of the organization to be met while allowing employees work/life balance. Here are some things to consider for the hybrid workplace:
A Designated Workstation at Home
Aside from your desk and/or office at the workplace, have a designated workstation at home. This is helpful when there are inclement weather situations or mechanical, plumbing, or technical issues at the office building that may suddenly require you to work from home. Your home workstation should be in an area where you can have privacy, take virtual meetings, take phone calls, and get tasks completed uninterrupted.
Although personal computers can be larger and more stationary, it is helpful to have a laptop. If your organization will issue a work laptop, take advantage of that opportunity. Otherwise you may want to invest in a laptop of you own. As you need to be flexible to go to the office for a brief in-person meeting, you are not stalled due to technology availability and the need to print items you need. Instead, you could take your laptop and have materials at your fingertips.
Introverts and Extroverts
Recognize that there are introverts and extroverts. Allow those individuals who are extroverts the ability to convene for brief meetings in person at the office or in a shared office space such as Brickyard in Woodbridge or Centerfuse in Manassas. Allow introverts to join virtually if they prefer and still feel included in the meeting. This also addresses diverse ideas, equal opportunities, and ensures inclusion.
Finally, long gone are the days where only one person in the office can know how do the job. Cross-training is necessary. An organization may have employees who are all over the city, state, and country, and health challenges from COVID-19 and otherwise can prevent someone from being able to do their job. Someone other than one individual should be able to handle payroll if the person who normally handles payroll is out for a month. Likewise, someone who handles IT issues should not be the sole employee who handles these issues. Cross-train your employees so that one long-term employee absence does not cripple the organization. Allow employees to teach one another their jobs and shadow so that they can perform necessary duties when the time presents itself.
The hybrid workplace is here to stay and the best way to handle the changes are to start implementing strategies that will make the workplace better for everyone. If an organization is seeking additional guidance for leading and managing the hybrid workplace, there is assistance. Contact SBR Workplace Leadership Services to learn more, to train your group, for executive coaching, employee engagement surveys, curriculum design, train-the-trainer, and completing educational workshops.