There has been a greater demand for hybrid work arrangements as society’s view on work has changed post-pandemic. The option for remote working has now become another make-or-break factor in hiring or retaining workers. While hybrid working no doubt provides many benefits to employees, employers, understandably, have many concerns.
According to Microsoft’s 2021 Work Trend Index, 73% of the global workforce wanted to keep the option for hybrid work. However, some execs are not convinced. Contrarily, Microsoft’s 2022 report states that 85% of “global business decision makers” feel hybrid work makes it difficult to gauge employee productivity. Locally, Singaporeans have demonstrated a preference for remote working based on Randstad’s 2022 Workmonitor survey, with 77% favoring flexible working locations.
This new normal of working is give-and-take. Both employee and employer must put in an effort to maximise productivity while maintaining flexibility. Here are some tips we believe can help optimise hybrid working:
- Set Clear Goals and Expectations
As productivity is a cause for concern among employers, clearly defining work goals and discussing a reasonable timeframe for accomplishing them can be helpful. This compromise ensures that work gets done whilst also offering employees the freedom to manage their own time and work at their own pace. For best effect, we recommend setting multiple goals over the span of a few days to give employees more leeway in time management.
- Plan the Work
Working in the office or from home both have their pros and cons, hence organisations are likely to require a balance of both. Therefore, to achieve optimal productivity, we suggest pragmatic scheduling of work to coincide with designated remote/in-office working days.
For example, employees returning to the office could sit in on important meetings, collaborate in-depth with other departments on projects or attend ongoing events. Conversely, employees handling projects that require focus and research might benefit from the comfort and quiet of their home.
An often-overlooked facet of remote working is the reduced interaction and communication, which can hinder or even sabotage work. It is crucial to be cognizant of this and to email, text, chat or call more often so that everyone can be on the same page.
This should be done within reason of course, as excessive messaging will distract and exhaust instead. We advise setting fixed times for less urgent correspondence, reviewing work and routine reports to avoid overload.
- Create a Conducive Work Environment
Companies can and should ensure their employees’ digital workspace is just as conducive as their physical ones. This means streamlining and standardising processes, communications and workflow, as well as utilising technology to its fullest. Instead of, for example, manually editing and scanning documents, software such as Adobe Acrobat Reader should be used to digitally edit PDFs and other documents.
Of course, employees also share in this responsibility, and they must ensure their workplace is distraction-free, internet-enabled and organised.
As the pandemic winds down, remote working continues its transition from a working necessity to an employment perk. With hybrid work appearing to become a norm for the future, these tips will be vital for retaining employees and maintaining productivity.