Before the pandemic, the ability to work from home was an option that was only available to freelancers and a few business owners who were able to run self-reliant businesses. There were also content creators in the media industry who had this freedom. A lot can be learned from various sectors when operating flexibly.
Towards the end of 2021, about 32% of employees worldwide worked remotely. By the time restrictions started to get retracted, business leaders had realized the benefits and drawbacks of a remote working team. However, a more flexible setup was yet to be understood and optimized – a hybrid workplace.
What is a Hybrid Workplace?
A hybrid workplace enables employees to work in a flexible system that takes advantage of in-person and remote working setups. There are several factors involved in designing hybrid working models. Each model can be tweaked to cater to the requirements of individual departments.
As time passed, subtle but challenging hurdles presented themselves apart from the obvious ones. Let us look at five challenges that a business leader must anticipate when handling a hybrid workplace. These are ordered by obviousness in a descending manner.
5 Challenges of working remotely in a hybrid working environment
There are several challenges when operating in a hybrid manner. Each challenge would have varying degrees of difficulty depending on the sector your organization belongs to.
Here are the top 5 challenges that an organization from any industry would have to address.
1. Infrastructural Hurdles:
The most apparent hurdle of any work-from-home (and hybrid) setup is dealing with technical difficulties. This may range from bad internet connectivity to local power supply issues. Companies with a small operating budget would find it harder to provide high-standard infrastructure and technology to every single employee. Other issues, like latency while working in a Remote Desktop Infrastructure setup, significantly add to employees' frustrations.
2. Employee Engagement:
For any employee working from home, the chances of getting distracted are very high compared to working in an office environment. It takes a lot of effort to stay focused in such situations. Apart from that, anyone who has had the chance to work from the comforts of their homes knows that right after a meeting ends, it is far too easy to revert to their lethargic self.
Several studies have shown how employee engagement is a significant factor in determining how efficiently an employee works towards helping their organization progress. A Gallup report showed that disengaged workforces show 17% lesser productivity. It also showed that organizations with higher engagement rates have a 21% higher profitability.
Despite blurring the lines between introverts and extroverts, barriers of distance and time-zone differences play a significant role in passive disengagement. The fear of missing out gets real when a select few of your team are together at work, sharing a bond you cannot build in a virtual relationship.
3. Remote Collaboration Environments:
Holding hybrid meetings seems like a task that has grown increasingly harder as the content that needs to be shared tends to be more detailed when working with your immediate team members. On the other hand, right after a meeting, the first thought is "that could have been conveyed in an email."
Despite being highly subjective, these debatable ideas are regarding hybrid workspaces. Team leaders and employees must be competent enough to tell the difference between what can be conveyed through an email or a brief document and what calls for a call.
For the most part, project management practices tend to remain the same. However, due to reduced employee engagement in the hybrid workspace, ensuring everyone follows the proper protocol is increasingly challenging.
4. Business Process Compliance:
Today enterprises are focusing on becoming business process compliant to achieve efficiency and meet the regulations of state agencies. Business process compliance should be considered throughout the lifecycle and never be an afterthought.
A hybrid work model can distract your employees from implementing the ideal practices for each procedure. In some cases, this can severely affect the standards of business process compliance that the organization is trying to achieve.
Poor process compliance also leads to poor data quality. For enterprises, internal output metrics are as important as the contexts in which they are collected. This integrity can only be ensured if the employees adhere to their managers' prescribed workflows and protocols.
5. Onboarding Protocol:
A remote working employee has different challenges when integrating with company processes and culture. The virtual or remote onboarding process plays a significant role in ensuring that these employees have a fluid experience with the same. This includes all the products the employee's team uses and an understanding of typical workflows for specific work pieces.
When it comes to new tools or significant software updates, even existing employees need to be appropriately onboarded, regardless of whether they work remotely. However, it gets complicated when operating in a hybrid manner, as traditional approaches may not be suitable.
An ideal solution that can be applied to any setup must be deployed. Let's see how this can be done when trying to adopt a Hybrid Work model.
How to Adopt a Hybrid Work Model
Several factors are involved in designing a hybrid work model. These include,
- Number of days to work in-office vs. at home
- Cycling of WFH days based on team requirements and individual roles
- The flexibility of work hours and interdependencies
- Access to additional tools for employees taking part in the hybrid model
After analyzing the various needs, a manager can devise a model that enables each individual to work as efficiently as possible. The HR department gets involved at multiple stages of this process to ensure that the well-being of the employees isn't affected.
Let's now take a look at the common challenges to address when adopting a hybrid work model.
How do you Overcome the Challenges of a Hybrid Workplace?
After understanding the potential challenges of working remotely, we can address these challenges by ensuring the following essential points. These are highly dependent on the kind of work that your organization deals with. Based on your team's working methodologies, you must adapt the points below accordingly.
a. Ensure that your employees are well equipped for every situation
Larger companies may be able to tackle these issues by simply funding every infrastructural requirement that their employees demand. This might involve a lot of money, but you can reduce costs by ensuring that funds are placed only where required.
Besides infrastructural barriers, employees might face hurdles concerning software or tools not functioning correctly. These hurdles are slightly more challenging when the person is remote. Companies can leverage Digital Adoption Platforms to overcome software adoption-related challenges and ensure effectiveness (more on this later!)
b. Choose the right Project Management Software
Team leaders must identify the ideal approach to train and manage their remote teams effectively. A crucial aspect of this is avoiding tools that don't integrate well with each other. However, in unavoidable circumstances, you can leverage the Digital Adoption Platform to streamline processes, as it can provide seamless cross-application workflows.
Spend ample time deciding the right tool for what your team is dedicated to. If need be, give free trials a shot as they give you a gist of what each tool is capable of and its limitations.
Make a feature comparison to prioritize which software you will test first. If your company has an in-house UX team, you may even request for a custom app to be built to cater to your team's requirements.
c. Invest in Digital Adoption technology
Digital Adoption Platforms like Apty help ensure high productivity rates even in a remote working setup. Apty helps improve overall productivity from the ground up, from competent onboarding strategies to ensuring business process compliance in all departments of an organization.
You can improve remote employees' performance by proactively identifying & addressing their pain points. Apty can identify exactly where your employees struggle to complete a task and allow you to create & launch customized walkthroughs in minutes. Apty's advanced analytics provides an in-depth report on employee behavior within the application.
There is no doubt that this modern era of flexible workforce setups is here to stay for good. As more and more businesses turn to digital means of functioning, leaders must start focusing on ensuring that every employee is engaged and productive regardless of where they are working.
Apty DAP is the right tool that you can invest in to overcome all your remote onboarding & training-related challenges. Apty can increase employee performance & productivity by 40% and minimize your support & training costs by 80%. Also, it ensures seamless product adoption and boosts remote employee performance.