Many of us have been confronted with a new work situation since the pandemic. Abandoned areas in the office without presence meetings, closed canteens, or missing fruit baskets. But even at home we often miss things like facilities, equipment, tools, or co-working. The result: apart from some flexibility, many are exposed to the disadvantages of both work models in an “unregulated hybrid work model.”
- Given partial presence, meetings take place online. In an open office, people either talk loudly all the time or disappear into small work cells for half the day.
- Insufficient technology in meeting rooms or work spaces prevents efficient collaboration.
- Unused office space waste a lot of energy and money.
- Improvised home office equipment.
- Benefits that make less or no sense in the new daily work routine, but a lack of new benefits — e.g. top equipment for the home office.
A decision that leverages the respective advantages of a model becomes necessary. For many, this will be the remote model in the future. Or at least a regulated hybrid model, in which presence and home office work are regulated in such a way that the particular advantages of both models become effective.
In order to make the most out of the pros and cons of each model, various changes are necessary:
Realign organization & employees
- Teams should decide on one model and be able to implement it consistently. However, not all teams in the company need to use the same model.
- For remote teams, the disciplined, focused, independent, and communicative employees are well-suited for distributed work.
- Consequently, the personnel policy should be adapted to find suitable employees for remote teams when hiring. The advantages of global sourcing should be used but extended to rules that come with it: Core working hours due to different time zones, language rules, tooling, equipment, and access requirements.
Adapt office & work equipment
- Not all employees have a good working environment at home or want to work alone. Alternatives should be established, e.g. by offering the possibility to work in co-working places.
- Even the existing office can become a company-owned co-working space. Shared workspaces can reduce the required space to a necessary level. The remaining space should be optimized for workshops and intensive media collaboration.
- Investments that no longer need to be spent for office space or equipment should be used for professional home equipment on par with those in the office.
Adapt collaboration to distributed working
- Due to the lack of face-to-face collaboration, leadership based on trust and results becomes a must at this point.
- New common guidelines for collaboration will help to avoid undermining previously effective processes. Accessibility and channels, process adjustments (e.g., more asynchronous communication instead of serial meetings), tools, and other guidelines should be consistently revised. High-security standards (VPN, system security policies, protected document management, etc.) become imperative.
- The social aspect remains the major weak point in remote work. It becomes even more important to ensure maximum social exchange on the few occasions when people get together and to prioritize this over other topics. Companies that are distributed around the world often come together for a global summit once a year and turn it into a real social highlight.
Adapt leadership role to new circumstances
- Communicating context, goals, and expectations with maximum clarity become more important, as misalignments are not immediately noticed in distributed teams.
- The onboarding of new employees should be reconsidered. Gaining confidence, building trust with and learning from colleagues, and understanding the culture from remote require new strategies.
- Evaluating employees tends to be more difficult due to the lack of shared time in the office. 360° feedback with peers can help to still get sufficient qualitative feedback.
- New aspects of employment law need to be taken into account. Also aspects of newly emerging opportunities to work completely abroad (in other countries) for a period of time. These aspects should be discussed with the human resources department.
Hesitating to decide on a model costs teams efficiency every day. We should therefore advocate for a suitable model and then implement it consistently.