Challenges come with any new action, and implementing a hybrid work model is no different. Although challenges will arise, implementing a hybrid work model in your office is far too important. Most problems that will occur will be due to change, which is inevitable. Change can be difficult but with the right resources, attitudes, and motivation, it can be overcome. For every potential roadblock, there will be a solution.
Common Challenges and their Solutions:
Problem 1: Rethinking the office space
Moving away from a traditional office and into a hybrid one can be a difficult and tedious process. The best aspect of a new office space concept is that employers will be able to reduce the required space and save on infrastructure, utility, and maintenance costs. Although a lot of costs can be reduced, offices will still be an important part of work in a hybrid model. Implementing a hybrid work model means that the office will now need to be reevaluated based on the new needs of the company and its employees, which may be challenging.
The idea is not to get rid of offices completely, but rather repurpose them to fit the needs of a newfound working model.
Evidence suggests that businesses are considering smaller but higher-quality office spaces. In a hybrid model, necessary office capacity may vary over time, depending on the need for employees to be on-site.
The first aspect that needs to be done when rethinking office space, is to identify the types of workspaces necessary for employees to undertake their work productively. With needs identified, employers can be thoughtful decisions about the use of the office space. Whether there is a need for more conference rooms, communal areas for socialization, private offices, or others, can all be determined based on the needs of the employees and the goals of the company.
Steps to take when rethinking and creating new office space:
- Identify the types of workspaces necessary for people to undertake their work productively
- Assess the potential and diversity of needs
- Assess the likelihood of use and its cost
- And assess by whom and when that space will be used
- Define the potential percentage occupancy requirements for offices
- Consider communal areas for socialization and hot desk areas for an open workspace
Problem 2: New technology needs
Another new challenge that may arise due to a new work model, is the need for new technologies to help the space adapt to its new purpose. Digital tools can help create a hybrid office environment that is filled with good communication, productivity, and organization. With employees consistently switching between on-site and remote work, good organizational tools are a must as they will be able to fuse the two together for a smooth transition and operation. The challenge comes with providing the right tools and creating rules for engagement for them.
Although tools are important, companies must be careful not to overload employees with too many different applications, as studies show that diversity in tools (and switching between them) is a source of collaboration stress.
With a newly purposed office, there will be different space needs, as well as areas that will have to be booked out in order to avoid overcapacity. Depending on how you’d like to organize your space, a great tool to use is a management software that can conduct all the bookings for you, and allow you to keep track of who is in the office or will be coming into the office, alongside who is using what area.
A great software solution for this problem is Archie, a leading management software that can automate your office and manage bookings. Archie has many features that can help you transition your team into a hybrid work model, such as analytics that allow you to see how your space is being used, as well as many community features which can help keep your employees stay in touch with each other whether they are in-office or at home.
Problem 3: Behaviour and culture
The aspect that will change most in a company from the integration of a hybrid work model will be the culture. Employers are used to monitoring their staff and measuring their performances based on input rather than output, which is not necessarily a good way to do so. It might be tempting for leaders to keep this mindset even when switching to a hybrid work model, and this can cause problems later on. Things like lack of trust and fairness are all aspects that may affect performance and revenue if not taken care of before.
Employers may also feel as though they are losing part of the company culture with a hybrid work model, but the truth is that it just needs to be modified to fit the new standard.
Culture is crucial to company success. Research by Kotter shows that in companies where culture is more effective, they experience payoffs in revenue growth, retention, stock price and net income.
Trusting employees: Trust is an essential part of a hybrid work culture, along with self-governing. Research on productivity effects of remote work has shown no negative effect, proving that concerns about productivity are often unnecessary and pointless. Although it may be hard to adapt to a new system, trusting your employees will come with time. Meanwhile, as a leader, you must learn to take a step back and allow your employees to prove to you that they are being productive and don’t need to be watched.
The most important thing to keep in mind is the way leaders measure performance. Clearly measuring input will no longer be feasible or beneficial. Instead, employers should opt to monitor output. When inputs such as working hours are no longer visible, along with actions such as work methods and procedures, managers need to change their management style and focus on performance outcomes and steering the results.
Fairness and inclusion: If people do not feel like there is equity and justice, they will be quick to lose motivation. Active involvement of management can prevent the collapse of weak ties while paying special attention to the inclusion of remote workers. For example, company events which include remote workers in the on-site part of the contract, or rewarding grassroots initiatives can lead to more engagement in interacting with employees beyond the job. Another way that accidental communication works on-site is by walking into a colleague’s office to see if they are free for a quick chat. These types of interactions can be simulated with online consultation hours.