As companies begin to resume their operations, some employees will stay fully remote, some will return fully to the office, and others will embrace a hybrid approach. Hybrid work era is a reality and there is no question of going back to a pre-pandemic reality. According to a recent survey, 27% of organizations are currently working in a hybrid model and this number is expected to jump to 71% in the next two years with more companies planning to shift to hybrid mode.
But hybrid work comes with many challenges like security, compensation, collaboration, and culture. Before moving on to a full-fledged hybrid model, companies must address these 13 issues.
Companies could face cybersecurity vulnerabilities from employees who are working from remote locations using their own devices. Hybrid employees using their own systems are often outside common network and security protocols. Any security lapse might result in financial liability, loss of credibility and lawsuits.
Manages who were managing their teams in-office were suddenly forced to manage remote teams. Remote work brings out leadership deficiencies. Managing a hybrid team requires a different skill set that can only be mastered over a period of time.
It is quite natural that in-office employees who are more visible are often recognized much more than remote employees who are working from elsewhere. When it comes to appreciations, rewards, promotions etc remote employees don’t get a level playing field, which may affect their performance and productivity.
There is a possibility of remote employees becoming isolated and feeling disconnected from the company as they don’t get to meet their managers or colleagues often. A survey on workplace rapport says that 69% of remote employees “don’t feel a very strong sense of connection” to their co-workers.
When the entire world went into a sudden lockdown, many employees were forced to use digital communication and collaboration tools with which some of the employees were not familiar. Some non-IT and senior employees were digitally under-trained to manage large teams only through virtual meetings.
In the hybrid work model, women are getting bogged down by a higher share of domestic chores and responsibilities. Even when both partners are working from home, a majority share of domestic responsibilities is handled by women. According to McKinsey estimates, women were spending an estimated 30% more time on domestic work during the pandemic. Working remotely, women had to manage both household and official responsibilities at the same time.
Onboarding and training new joiners are a major challenge when employees join the organization from remote locations. Adapting to an organization’s culture is also a major challenge for them due to a lack of in-person interaction with senior colleagues and managers.
One of the biggest challenges of working remotely is to stay connected with those in and out of the office. Seamless connectivity is a must for everyone to communicate quickly and efficiently. You need modern tools like audio/video calling, screen sharing, group chat etc. Companies should encourage their employees to upgrade their network and invest in communication and collaboration tools like Clariti.
Transparent communication is crucial to erase barriers between in-office and remote workers. The absence of honest and open communication will impact employee morale negatively. A survey reveals that 60% of remote workers don’t get important information because it was only discussed in person.
The biggest setback for the hybrid work model is the lack of separation between work and private life. One study found that more than 7 in 10 professionals today are suffering from burnout. Another study found that as new assignments and additional responsibilities piled up, 1 in 4 employees saw their stress levels skyrocket and felt the tendency to burn out.
Whenever a phone call, text or email is not answered immediately by a remote employee, it raises suspicion if the employee is really working. During this pandemic, some companies started using surveillance tools to closely monitor the activities of the remote workforce. Gartner predicts that about 75% of conversations at the office may be recorded by 2025. This lack of trust results in resentment from remote employees and studies are showing that one in four people will be looking for a new job.
Some companies are paying the same salary for their remote and in-office workers, though the cost of living and expenses are not the same for both. Employees working from remote locations incur more expenses than their counterparts who commute to the office as they may have to incur extra costs to maintain a home office with the requisite technology.
A study revealed that only a very few remote employees took sick leave and 29% of employees stated that they had worked through illness. Companies must make sure that their remote employees are encouraged to take sick leave when needed.
No matter what the workforce challenges are, companies are widely adopting hybrid work. Forrester predicts 7 in 10 companies will switch over to the hybrid model. But companies should also realize that many employees are going through work-related stress due to the demands of digital work. Since March 2020, 54% of workers and 63% of managers have said that they feel more overwhelmed by the number of work-related notifications.
As we enter a post-pandemic world, companies must have the necessary tools and policies to overcome the problems posed by hybrid work to maximize its benefits for employees and the business.