As return-to-office mandates roll out across the country, many organizations are choosing to embrace the hybrid model rather than a fully on-site requirement. Nearly three-quarters of all companies now offer hybrid work models, and it’s on track to become the most popular work arrangement.
By offering more flexibility combined with continued opportunities for in-person connection, the hybrid model has been found to improve employee satisfaction without compromising on productivity. However, it must be approached strategically to bring about these outcomes. If not managed properly, hybrid workplaces can struggle to stay unified, collaborative, and motivated.
The key to overcoming these pitfalls is to focus on employee engagement initiatives that help workers feel more connected and dedicated to their employer and role. Efforts to maximize engagement — such as employee recognition programs and on-site team-building events — can transform a poorly performing workforce into one that’s passionate and creative. Let’s explore the challenges of the hybrid work model and discuss some ways that they can be addressed with engagement efforts.
Many of the common pitfalls of fully remote workforces are experienced in a hybrid workplace setting as well. Here are 5 common challenges of the hybrid work model, as defined by Wharton professor and organizational behavior expert Martine Hass.
Interacting with colleagues across various locations naturally imposes difficulties. Digital technology must be heavily relied upon to facilitate communication, yet this can introduce technological difficulties as well as bias and disparities. While communication platforms have gone a long way in fostering effective remote work, they can never fully replace the dynamics and playing field of in-person interaction.
Even when teams take steps to prioritize inclusivity and communication within hybrid teams, fault lines typically still arise between those who are remote and those who are in the office. Remote workers may be inadvertently left out of conversations and decisions, which can harm project outcomes as well as employee morale.
Establishing professional networks is important not only for career growth but also for psychological well-being. When access to in-person socialization is limited, employees are likely to feel more isolated and cut off from mentoring, professional development, and even friendship opportunities. If not prioritized as a concerted and intentional effort, it’s easy for social interaction to fall off the radar in a hybrid workplace setting.
Although solitude is often helpful for productivity, it can be detrimental to one’s ability to think creatively. Exposure to other individuals and environments can help encourage new ways of thinking, while the opportunity to engage in spontaneous lunchroom chats gives on-site employees a creative advantage. For remote workers, on the other hand, creative brainstorming is often limited to scheduled meetings which can hamper real innovation and outside-the-box thinking.
Surveys from Gartner reveal that hybrid’s effect on work culture is a top concern among CEOs — and for good reason. In a traditional work environment, new hires quickly assimilate into the existing workplace culture by witnessing it firsthand. Yet when workers are mainly offsite — and when many of them haven’t even met each other — it becomes a real challenge to cultivate a unique company culture that’s built on shared values.
Employee engagement is something that must be continuously cultivated, no matter whether the company is remote, hybrid, or fully on-site. Yet for remote and hybrid workforces that are more prone to disconnection and misalignment, employee engagement plays an even more crucial role in boosting employee performance and satisfaction.
Here are several effective strategies for HR and executive teams to implement in order to improve employee engagement in hybrid teams:
After experiencing the benefits of work flexibility during the remote work era, employees have come to appreciate having more control over their work day. In fact, recent research shows that employees overwhelmingly expect their work experience to be tailored to their specific needs. They want to have more autonomy over not just where they work, but also when, how much, and with whom they work.
Companies that have adopted a hybrid model but continue to enforce strict 9-5 work hours are likely to experience more pushback and disengagement from employees. Offering workers greater flexibility — for example, the ability to adjust their schedule around their kids’ school day — has actually been found to improve productivity.
Encouraging in-person interactions is highly beneficial for organizational culture, work performance, and overall employee well-being. What makes the hybrid model so beneficial is that it grants the advantages of remote work while still providing opportunities for social interaction. However, this must be actively prioritized, otherwise, it can easily fall by the wayside.
The employer value proposition refers to a company’s unique branding and mix of benefits that attract employees. However, a strong EVP isn’t just important for attracting talent — it also plays a role in boosting workplace pride among existing employees. A clear and distinct EVP fosters high morale and unity within workforces, including those that are hybrid or remote.
Many managers worry about remote work’s effect on productivity, and as a result, they resort to micromanaging. However, this approach typically backfires. What really fuels productivity among employees is feeling empowered, motivated, and trusted. Companies are more likely to come out ahead if they trust their employees to abide by clearly defined policies, rather than suspecting noncompliance.
Recognition is a basic human need, and its absence is highly detrimental to workers. That’s why employee recognition programs that praise and reward workers have been found to improve morale, engagement, and productivity.
Within hybrid workforces, it can be easy for accomplishments to go unnoticed. Implementing an employee recognition initiative is essential to ensure that recognition becomes part of the company’s values and culture. Managers should encourage their teams to regularly take note of their peers’ accomplishments, and leaders themselves should make an effort to recognize workers.
One of the best ways that companies can increase recognition efforts is by utilizing an employee recognition and rewards platform. These solutions facilitate ongoing recognition from peers and managers — making it easier, more intuitive, and more fun for employees to praise one another. Featuring user-friendly messaging and recognition tools, data analytics, and rewards catalogs, recognition platforms deeply instill the value of recognition within the workforce and empower HR leaders to make data-driven decisions.
When looking for a recognition platform, be sure to choose one that incorporates mobile-first technology, such as a mobile-friendly interface. The ability to give feedback and praise from a mobile device is essential for team members who are spread out across various locations and do not have access to on-site computers.
Technology is a crucial component of every hybrid company’s talent management strategies, as it fosters effective communication and collaboration. Yet recognition and rewards platforms, in particular, are particularly instrumental in boosting feelings of unity and engagement. This, in turn, combats many of the common obstacles faced by hybrid companies.
WorkProud’s end-to-end recognition and employee engagement platform features a wide range of user-friendly features for optimizing onboarding, recognition, celebration of milestones, and much more. Our team of experts works closely with companies to implement tailored integrations that cater to your unique engagement needs. To learn more about WorkProud and try a free demo, click here.
WorkProud is committed to helping its clients create a unified approach to the employee experience by helping them build cultures of workplace pride. Trusted by millions of users at some of the world’s most recognized employer brands, WorkProud delivers a comprehensive approach to building company cultures that inspire people to be Proud of their Work and Proud of their Company.
Every month, we share news, knowledge, and insight into what we believe is a pretty simple proposition: If you are “proud of your work and proud of your company,” you are more engaged, more productive, and more likely to stay with your company for the long haul.