02 May 2023

Navigating The Benefits And Challenges Of A Hybrid Workplace 

Flexible working / Talent Development / Transformative Communication

How Organizations Can Embrace Flexibility While Maintaining Productivity and Culture

The COVID-19 pandemic forever transformed the way we work. While the era of remote work provided some much-needed flexibility for employees, it also presented its own set of challenges, including isolation, burnout, and frayed communication in the workplace.

As organizations adopted hybrid work to provide their talent with the flexibility to choose where they want to work—while still remaining connected to their teams and the organization a few days a week—new opportunities and challenges emerged as we began navigating this new way of work.

Communications Skills Gaps in Hybrid Teams
The skillset your team needs to thrive in a hybrid workplace
Communications Skills Gaps in Hybrid Teams
The skillset your team needs to thrive in a hybrid workplace

The Advantages Of Hybrid Working

Hybrid work offers several clear benefits for organizations. Here are some of the most notable:

  • Hybrid working increases productivity: Recent research has revealed that hybrid working is beginning to gain parity with salary. What’s more, employees with flexible schedules report 29% higher productivity and 53% greater ability to focus than those without the ability to shift their schedule. Read more about why flexible work options boost employee performance.
  • It enhances the ability to attract and retain talent: Flexibility has become increasingly important, with over a quarter of surveyed employees viewing flexibility as more important than pay. It is also one of the top three things job seekers prioritize when looking for new jobs. By offering hybrid work options, organizations can appeal to a wider pool of talent and retain their current employees. Plus, allowing employees to work remotely enables organizations to expand their hiring pool to a national or even international level.
  • It can improve company culture: Satisfied employees are more likely to report happiness with their job, leading to increased levels of productivity and motivation. They’re also more likely to recommend their company as a place to work if their needs are met. According to Future Forum, 52% of remote and hybrid workers said their company culture improved over the past two years compared with fully in-person workers.

Well-executed, hybrid workplaces encourage employees to work to their strengths — while offering them the flexibility to do just that. In a flexible and positive work culture, employees can find a strong balance between creativity and collaboration. This not only provides them with opportunities to focus deeply on their work, but also provides substantial room to collaborate with peers virtually and in the office.

However, “going hybrid” is not bereft of challenges.

The Challenges Of Hybrid Working

Supporting employees outside the office presents significant challenges, including:

  • Communication breakdowns: With research showing that 90% of all communication is non-verbal, learning to competently communicate via digital means is a tough skill to master for some; it’s not innately present in people. In fact, all interpersonal skills — such as team building, presenting, and giving effective feedback — come with an array of additional complexities and pitfalls to watch out for when they’re delivered virtually.
  • Collaborating with multicultural teams: As teams have grown across borders, managing a diverse workforce with varying cultural needs and preferences, including working hours, communication styles and management expectations is challenging to say the least. Now with virtual environments, employers must also consider how their interpersonal skills may not be entirely applicable or appropriate across cultures.
  • Inequality between hybrid and non-hybrid employees: Employees who spend all or most of their time working remotely could feel excluded from conversations and decisions because they’re not physically in the room. This can leave them feeling unheard and undervalued, even among their colleagues. It might also lead to a feeling of having reduced chances for being considered for promotions.

Limited access to leadership can also make remote employees feel undervalued. On top of that, remote workers may experience feeling isolated from their teams and face challenges in communicating with their colleagues. And the additional disconnect from office culture may only heighten feelings of isolation. That feeling of isolation also makes it difficult to promote diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) in the workplace.

In order for a hybrid workforce to succeed, organizations must focus on enabling and facilitating hybrid or virtual work, as well as equipping hybrid teams with interpersonal and intercultural skills to navigate this new status quo.

Communications Skills Gaps in Hybrid Teams
The skillset your team needs to thrive in a hybrid workplace
Communications Skills Gaps in Hybrid Teams
The skillset your team needs to thrive in a hybrid workplace

How Can We Make The Hybrid Model Work?

Consider implementing the following strategies and best practices when crafting your hybrid work model best practices.

Engagement And Wellbeing

Employees who report high levels of engagement and well-being are 27% more likely to demonstrate excellent performance. Moreover, they’re 59% less likely to look for a job with a different organization. Leaders should respond by continuing to listen and respond to the needs of hybrid and remote workers.

Fairness and Inclusion

Hybrid and remote workers may feel isolated or excluded from important conversations, leading to disengagement and dissatisfaction. This is especially relevant in organizations with global teams, where there is a higher risk of cultural miscommunication and frustration.

To address these issues, leaders should be equipped with the knowledge to work across different cultures and have a plan in place to communicate effectively with all members of their team. By taking these steps, leaders can help prevent feelings of isolation and ensure that all team members are able to fully participate and contribute.

Trust and Productivity

Managers and leaders in a hybrid workplace should always ensure that their employees deliver timely, high-quality work. That’s where developing managerial skills comes in. Leadership should coach and emphasize productivity metrics and behaviors over the appearance of busyness. By prioritizing these strategies, leaders can better support and assess the performance of their remote and hybrid employees.

Communications Skills Gaps in Hybrid Teams
The skillset your team needs to thrive in a hybrid workplace
Communications Skills Gaps in Hybrid Teams
The skillset your team needs to thrive in a hybrid workplace

Equipping Your Talent With Hybrid Workplace Skills

Hybrid work is here to stay. Though it’s far from perfect, hybrid work is a key strategy for driving employee satisfaction and business results. With the right set of communications skills, navigating this new way of work is possible for any organization.

Learnlight helps organizations foster exactly those skills to create stronger, more agile hybrid workforces. We help professionals around the world develop their language, intercultural, and communication skills, whether they’re working from the office or at home on the couch. To learn more about how we can help make an impact and help your team thrive in hybrid workplaces, get in touch.

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