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How Has the Shift to Hybrid Working Affected Employee Management?

Vipin Bansal - Birlasoft

The shift to a hybrid working environment brought about by the coronavirus has affected the management of employees. Many companies have taken on a fully-virtual business model, connecting with people worldwide through video conferencing and communication platforms. “Moving beyond traditional management, leadership must also monitor time spent in or out of the office and place importance on nurturing their employees” [Sougat Chakravartty, Birlasoft]. A big part of this in a post-pandemic working world will involve closing the bridge between those working remotely and the leadership team. 

What is a hybrid work model?

Generally, hybrid work models are flexible working arrangements that combine traditional office-based work with remote work. While these schedules are still an exception in some companies, most large enterprises have introduced them as permanent arrangements or temporary relief options. In addition to these new forms of employment, other options such as remote-controlled home offices also belong to the increasing number of flexible employment opportunities. 

The arrival of new technologies has come with an array of opportunities and challenges in equal parts. One clear benefit is the increasing availability of smartphones and laptops. Access to these items outside conventional working hours has meant that employees can conduct their work both in and outside traditional office hours. This flexible approach to working is already evident across many sectors, and Many studies have shown evidence of the benefits of this type of hybrid working environment. For example, a survey by CIPD reported that 80% of UK organisations allowed some degree of flexibility in place. 

How has the shift to a hybrid working environment affected employee management practices?

Given these developments, companies can expect more employees to adopt hybrid working practices. As a result, managers will have to adapt their management styles to accommodate new working models by setting clear guidelines for managing employees remotely. Of course, this does not mean that they have to completely change the way they manage their workforce but instead focus on developing methods of communication that are suitable for virtual teams.

One of these methods is face-to-face contact. Maintaining solid relationships with co-workers is essential for effective teamwork, even if some team members are in remote locations. Companies must also promote the integration process between employees working remotely and those who work at an office, such as team dinners and after-work get-togethers. This way, employees who work in remote locations will feel integrated with their team instead of isolated.

What challenges have arisen as a result of the change?

Whilst this new way of working may sound like a dream come true, there are still difficulties that employers and employees need to overcome. First, both parties need to be mindful of the change. Working from home is more accessible for employees, requiring fewer distractions and more time to get work done. But, it also makes managing that employee more challenging. As a result, employers need to find ways to keep track of what their staff are doing during the day whilst enabling them the flexibility to stick to their schedule. 

The ‘Bring Your Own Device’ (BYOD) trend has also impacted how people manage their time at work. Many employees now come into the office with mobile devices such as tablets and laptops, which allows them to check their emails outside work hours. On top of this, companies are looking to replace some of their office equipment with home-based alternatives so employees can access the same machines they’ve got at work if needed. This new trend has meant that managers are contacted around the clock, not just during office hours. As such, a comprehensive HCM system can help to integrate employees across the company and transcends location. In addition, this type of solution will enable workforce management to monitor employees, freeing managers to have more personal one-to-one sessions without getting weighed down by stats and data points. 

Flexibility is the key: In a sense, employers need to get mobile just as much as their staff do if they’re going to get the most out of these new work arrangements. This idea is about flexibility and finding a way in which both parties are comfortable when it comes to managing their time. As time goes on, some predict a shift in attitude, so employers must anticipate and navigate this developing change.

The final challenge we would like to address is the issue of relocation for roles that are semi-office based. These moves can impact morale and productivity as they counteract the benefits of working remotely. In addition, employees are separated from their family and support systems and may lose the freedom to work unconventional hours. As such, it is essential to maintain an open dialogue with employees. Even if suggested changes do not have the desired effect, employees feel secure providing constructive feedback. 

What strategies can employers put in place to make the most out of this new work arrangement?

There are many strategies employers can implement if they want to take advantage of these new working arrangements. The most important factors seem to be a schedule for the worker and having a set goal for what they expect out of an employee during a telecommuting session. Experts suggest setting goals such as how much work will be completed during a day, week, month etc., rather than just being told not to wander off on personal tasks [Charter Business 2012]. Another technique is to incentivise employees who produce the most and offer digital etiquette classes. In addition, if employers give their employees an incentive such as paid sick days, vacation days, or family leave, they might be more likely to stay productive the entire time they are working [Harris Interactive 2013]. Finally, scheduling regular check-ins with employees helps keep them accountable and on track throughout their shifts [Charter Business 2012].

Working from home has obvious benefits for employees, such as spending more time at home with their families and having more quality time with the children after school or any other commitments they might have during the day. It’s also beneficial for employers struggling to find office space in major cities with increasing prices. As most employers will tell you, this new way of working provides them access to broader talent pools, leading to better staff retention rates. 

With this flexibility and the support of suitable systems, managers can re-evaluate their priorities and focus on nurturing and developing their employees whilst ensuring productivity and efficiency. 

About Birlasoft

Birlasoft is a strategic implementation partner working with Oracle. With decades of experience, the specialist team can help your business make the most of Oracle HCM and their associated offerings. If you would like to find out more or book an appointment with one of our specialist experts, visit our website here

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