With hybrid work arrangements becoming more common as employees transition back into the office, here are some considerations to help you prepare for it, as shared by experts from the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP).
The COVID-19 pandemic has seen businesses shift gears and rethink their business models to sustain and thrive during this period.
Working from home has become the new normal for many organisations these days. However, as restrictions against COVID-19 ease, organisations are likely to take on a hybrid approach to work, comprising a blend of physical and virtual setups, with some employees working from the office and the others working remotely, or a combination of both.
With hybrid arrangements more common as employees transition back into the office, here are some considerations to help you prepare for it.
Putting safety first
Start off by having a system of safe management measures to reduce physical interaction and ensure safe distancing within the workspace. Apart from a change in the physical layout of their workplace and an alteration in schedules and work timings, rules on shared spaces should also be clearly communicated. This allows employees to understand what is expected of them under these new arrangements, and steps that the organisation is taking to protect their health.
Employees who do return to offices would trust that their organisations are responsible and have taken the appropriate steps to protect them and keep them safe. As your employees return to the workplace, organisations should treat their health and well-being as a top priority. For employees who are anxious about being in the workplace or travelling to their workplaces, employers should continue to enable them to work from home where possible.
It remains important to create an emotionally and physically safe workplace for your employees during this transition period, leading with empathy by placing employee safety and well-being first while creating an environment that brings everyone together, be it physically or remotely.
Rebuilding workplace morale
Invest efforts to rebuild workplace morale, especially if some of your workforce continues to work remotely. While you continue to acknowledge any employee concerns and dispiritedness, take time to recognise employee achievements, set realistic goals of what is achievable for your business over the next few months, as well as clearly and consistently communicate any changes in the organisation’s strategic plans.
Assure all employees, whether they are working from home or office, that they have a role to play in contributing to the organisation’s goals and sustainability.
Adapting to the new norm
One of the challenges organisations are likely to face is preparing for a return to pre-COVID-19 activities and routines, but in a new reality.
How will the organisations continue to perform with a more dispersed workforce? If more work is done remotely, what support will the organisation provide? Are your systems and processes sufficient to support a hybrid workforce?
For organisations who would like to sustain remote work arrangements, this may require changes in performance management systems, organisational structures, workplace culture or stigmas associated with less face-time.
Sustaining the new way of work
To sustain this new way of work, it is important to increase emphasis on workforce planning activities designed to anticipate and prepare for future changes to the business. Foster a dynamic environment that connects the contributions and well-being of your employees with the organisation’s purpose: increased adaptability, greater speed and a heightened team focus.
Identify skills for managers and supervisors required to manage a hybrid workforce, and similarly for employees to stay agile and adaptable. Review existing training and upskilling programmes to bring your workforce successfully into the future.
COVID-19 has inadvertently brought new resilience and agility as businesses adapt to a new normal and emerge stronger. It has also driven fundamental change and created new opportunities – a chance to rebuild and reposition the organisation for the future. Businesses that recognise this and make plans to embrace this new way of work by providing employees with the right skills and conditions to thrive, will be able to build a resilient workforce and achieve business sustainability.
Photo / 123RF