It is legitimate to think that many companies will not return to the traditional office model in the post-pandemic world but will continue on the last years’ experience by implementing a hybrid model. This is to maintain the advantages of working in the presence and the advantages (to which we have become accustomed by now) of working at a distance.
“The rewards of remote work are truly remarkable. Employees have reported greater job satisfaction due to flexibility and have shown that they don’t waste time just because they are home. And they all quickly adapted to digital tools that enable remote work. But the hybrid workplace presents risks that need to be carefully managed. Chief among these risks is the power differential created when some employees work from home while others work face-to-face,” said Haas Mortensen, associate professor of organizational behavior at INSEAD.
There are pitfalls for both employees and managers.
- On-site employees can take advantage of all the resources available in the office, be it things or people. And employees who are in close proximity can network and collaborate more efficiently. Conversely, remote workers can have difficulty with personal and technical connections, making it difficult to prove their competence.
- Another primary concern for hybrid workers is visibility. In some circles, out of sight means out of mind. If you have more access to resources and more visibility, this potentially makes you a more powerful and influential person in your team or workgroup.
- It is essential that they recognize that each employee will differ in terms of “hybrid competence” and will need extra support from the boss. A manager will need to understand what employees are facing.
- Managers must also be vigilant about the visibility of workers. They shouldn’t rely on – or reward – only the employees who are with them in the office. They must ensure that they are available to both remote employees and those located together and must not lose track of the people or activities performed remotely.
Haas said he believes the hybrid workplace will be the standard for some time, but it doesn’t mean it will become permanent. Some companies will find great benefits in this, from reduced office expenses to flexible hiring. But other companies may decide that innovation, creativity and collaboration are best when everyone is together.
One of the main aims of the NewMetro Project is the experimentation of virtual and hybrid methodologies for learning and reskilling and this matches exactly with what will probably be the future of the workplace and of educational institutions.