Woman working from home, holding white tablet

It’s possible that the way you work now is causing problems down the road. We go through all you need to know about managing a hybrid workplace.

Should you report to work today or not? There are distractions, technical challenges, and the potential productivity drain of tasks around the house to cope with at home.

If you can overcome distractions and technology, you may be able to be more productive at home. However, the uncertainty of whether or not you will see your coworkers has been ingrained in the social fabric of modern workplaces.

The daily concerns of ‘Where should I work today?’ and ‘Will my team keep me informed?’ are compounded by the larger worry of what will happen next with the epidemic.

There is a lot more ambiguity and unpredictability in the everyday lives of today’s leaders and their teams. The hybrid office, as well as the remote office, have opened up new possibilities and problems.

“We’ve seen two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said of the revolution in 2020. According to recent data, 74% of CFOs want to migrate a substantial section of their organization to remote working.

For the first time, teams are using numerous communication methods. The use of live chat, email, and video has increased dramatically – nearly half of employees in nearly 2600 medium-to-large companies in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Singapore, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States said their company had dramatically increased its use of these tools.

Despite this, with teams divided between home and office, employees are having more difficulties connecting. People struggle to receive the knowledge and face time they need to develop their job in a meaningful manner because of the geographic barrier caused by hybrid working.

There are new challenges with video now that it has become a fundamental tool in team communication. Attendees in hybrid circumstances may be divided into two groups: those who have full access to people, opportunities, and information at the conference, and those who do not.

The problem of silos is becoming worse. When at the workplace, it is customary for individuals to confine their interactions to their core group of coworkers rather than the larger group.

There is a belief that, as a result of the epidemic, we are losing our ability to connect with and read others.

Leaders and teams are placed under a lot of stress as a result of all of this. It raises the issue of whether your current workplace is suitable for the kind of company you intend to run in the future.

Leaders, on the other hand, are frequently the last to be persuaded.

Surprisingly, one segment of the workforce thrives in hybrid environments – and it’s the one most likely to be reading this piece. According to Microsoft’s Work Trend Index, 60 percent of business leaders are flourishing, while a comparable amount of Gen Z is only’surviving’ or battling with wellness and mental health.

It’s easy to dismiss stories of job stress and instability. “Is there really an issue?” leaders ask me when we examine the status of their staff. It’s a reasonable question.

And it’s one that requires a thorough grasp of the nature of the job, the workplace, and the teams who use it. Leaders must also have their wits about them to ensure that they are appropriately assessing the issue.

There is a strong propensity to exaggerate the positive aspects of the work environment. For example, there is a 23 percent difference between company and employee views of work hours flexibility (Workforce, 2021).

Employers are much more optimistic than workers. As a consequence of this propensity, some bosses would dismiss employee feedback and become uninformed, thinking that the stated concerns are ‘not that severe.’

Employers who want to establish a workplace where individuals are motivated to do their best job should pay close attention to what their workers are really going through. There are valid reasons for alarm.

When teams are divided between home and office, remote team members often feel at a disadvantage in meetings when compared to those who are physically present. Due to misconceptions and a lack of nonverbal clues, casual chats, and chances to mix, they feel lonely, heightening fears of rejection.

This may lead to inequity, which is a major factor in employee motivation. In other words, inequity will inevitably weaken your people’s motivation and interest to pay more than the bare minimum.

Young individuals believe they are losing out on mentoring and soft skills gained from working with senior coworkers who may assist them progress their careers. When compared to pre-pandemic levels, the number of connections new recruits establish at work has decreased by 17%.

“Networking as a new hire has gotten so much more daunting since the move to fully remote work — especially since switching to a completely different team during the pandemic,” Hannah McConnaughey, Product Marketing Manager, said of her experience as a new hire at Microsoft. It’s difficult to feel connected to my immediate colleagues, much alone create significant ties throughout the organization, without hallway discussions, accidental meetings, and small talk over coffee.”

Unstructured, impromptu communication adds to the stress, and ad hoc calls and meetings account for 62 percent of all calls and meetings.

Nonetheless, we think that a workplace that inspires people today can be created today. It is up to leaders like you and influencers like us to figure out how to make it happen.

In the ever-changing contemporary workplace, we believe in a few maxims. Knowing these will aid you in avoiding communication and productivity crises caused by poorly managed hybrid work.

The optimum location for each team will be determined by the nature of their job and individual preferences. This is due to the fact that people’s choices for flexibility differ greatly.

A work from home day for one individual is related to enhanced production, but a work from home day for a colleague is associated with distraction.

The best location for each team will vary on a regular basis. Preferences will continue to fluctuate and grow as lifestyle and job needs change. Some people like the workplace, while others prefer their home office, while yet others prefer an entirely another third area.

Different circumstances will alter the scenario next month. The individual who used to be unconcerned about running into their coworkers at the café below is now yearning for it.

The team member who previously said that working from home was not for them is now discussing the possibility of continuing it in some form.

Technology does not have all of the solutions. There is definitely a need for better technology to ensure that remote employees feel on an equal footing with those in the office, rather than being reduced to a box on a screen.

Virtual reality may be able to help here once it provides real-life experiences of meeting together. Only a few weeks ago, I chatted with a techie who described how lifelike and accurate certain virtual reality experiences had been for her.

Conversations held in person are of the utmost quality. Sensitive, difficult, and nuanced discussions are best handled in person.

In-person talks are the most honest and give the most valuable source of knowledge. The manner something is stated, not simply what is said, may reveal a lot.

If having these chats in person isn’t feasible, the next best option is to be completely distant. Hybrid is a compromise, and one that is occasionally essential, but how much of it can you stand?

And how effectively do you manage the hazards it poses? After studying and working in the field of communication for over a decade, I can confidently state that badly managed hybrid meetings cause problems.

It’s just as crucial to have room to socialize as it is to have space to cooperate. The workplace must now be appealing enough to entice people to visit it.

A substantial percentage of businesses are drastically shrinking their workplace space. When individuals come into the workplace now, they will mix and mingle as well as cooperate.

According to the ratio that matches the nature of the activity, the office will need to serve both of these vital communication activities very effectively. The quantity and size of meeting rooms and collaboration spaces, as well as the functioning of each space, will be affected.

It’s possible that your workplace may become more social than before, with cafés and water coolers playing a larger role.

We can design work environments that encourage individuals to do their best work. Leaders must set their own experiences aside in order to fully listen to their workers’ experiences.

Thanks to Nina Fountain at Business 2 Community whose reporting provided the original basis for this story.