Employers are slowly starting to re-open offices again after shutting down during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

However, many employers are going fully remote, or opting for the hybrid workplace model in which employees work both on-site and remotely. A hybrid workplace is a blend of two different work models: remote and office.

Although this model is preferable for many people who want to balance work and life, it does come with its own set of challenges. As more employers allow employees to work in the office and remotely, it’s important that these hybrid workplaces are properly managed. As an employee, here’s what to consider when setting up the ideal hybrid workplace at home.

Why Hybrid Workplaces are the Future

During the early days of the pandemic, just about every industry was forced to transition to remote work. Although this was a dramatic change for most, the modern workplace was already heading in this direction. With the globalization of organizations and the benefit of cloud technology and other advancements, a hybrid workplace was inevitable. COVID-19 just fast-tracked the process and proved what a success it could be. As the threat of the pandemic wanes and it becomes safer to return to offices, it makes sense for you to choose how and where you want to work. 

This type of hybrid work arrangement is the future for most companies. During this time, you might have discovered you were more productive at home. Or you might miss spending time in the office and making connections. A hybrid workplace offers you more freedom. This leads to better results overall making it beneficial for your employer as well.

The 3 Types of Hybrid Workplace Models

The following are three main types of hybrid workplace models.

  1. Remote-First Model – the majority of the employees work remotely from any destination for most of the time except when their job requires their physical presence in the office.
  2. Occasional-Office Model – employees will have the option to work remotely and only need to come into the office a few days per week to ensure that they have the flexibility to choose what is best for them.
  3. Office-Preferred Remote-Allowed Model – this model allows for both office and remote work but the office is still designated as the primary workplace so employees should spend most workdays there.

As you can see, there are different options for organizations interested in offering their employees a hybrid workplace. The choice would depend on the company, its activities, and employee preferences.

Why Employees Should be Involved in the Process

A hybrid workplace may be beneficial to the employer. But it’s more about improving the employee experience and increasing productivity. A hybrid workplace offers you the chance to work where you are most productive. You may get more done at home which is free from office distractions. You might prefer and perform better in the collaborative office setting.

Having a work-life balance is important. By being involved in the process of setting up a hybrid workplace, you can ensure that you maintain that balance. Company culture and remote work policies all impact your experience. It’s essential that you have a say in the formation of any new workplace models. There is no one better to help plan, execute, and adjust a hybrid workplace strategy than you and your colleagues. Plus, when employees have input during the process, there is a better chance for succes.

Ways to Manage Your Hybrid Workplace

The success of any hybrid strategy will depend on how it is managed. As an employee, here are four ways that you can help your employer manage a hybrid workplace successfully:

1. Ask for Transparent Policies

A hybrid workplace requires flexible work policies that are in line with the requirements of the organization. This can become complex when hybrid models are introduced. The rules and regulations might need tweaking over time and things may be unclear, especially in the beginning. This can easily lead to mismanagement and problems. Once the hybrid workplace policies are in place, they need to be explained clearly. If not, you can, and should, ask for clarification on the new policies to ensure transparency and understanding.

2. Get Support from Your Employer

Changes to workplace policies can be quite disruptive to the workforce. A hybrid workplace requires a certain amount of trust between you and your bosses. This is especially true when you’re working remotely most of the time.

If you feel out of the loop, reach out to your employer or manager for extra support. Suggest to your manager that he or she takes the time to interact with you and your colleagues through socially distanced meetings or even one-on-one virtual sessions. For a hybrid workplace to be a success, you need to feel as if you’re still supported by management.

3. Prioritize Your Learning and Development

Once you start working remotely, it can be easy to stop participating in programs offered by your work. However, it’s a good idea to prioritize any learning and development programs being offered. Even if this means going into the office for a workshop or onsite training, rather than working from home during this period. f you are working in a hybrid situation, perhaps suggest to your employer that online classes or workshops be provided. Another option to request from your employer is continuous training with self-paced learning, which will allow each person access to training materials whenever they need them and wherever they are.

4. Ensure You Have the Right Tools & a Dedicated Workspace

Be sure you have what you need to do your job right when you’re working from somewhere other than the office. Your employer will most likely provide you with a security-enhanced, work-specific laptop. It’s also important you tell management what else you might need, such as access to specialized tools or software needed to do your job efficiently. 

Although you’ll have a dedicated workspace or desk at the office, you need to make room for a dedicated workspace or office in your home as well. This could be in a spare bedroom or a quiet space in your home where you won’t be disturbed. 

You’ll need space for your desk, an office chair, possibly shelving, or cabinets for files and office supplies. In order to create space, consider using a self-storage unit solution such as SpareFoot for excess furniture and household items. This is especially useful if you need to make room in a hurry. You also need to ensure that you’re working from a place that is connected to WiFi or ethernet.

Embrace the Evolution of the Workplace

The post-pandemic world has accelerated the evolution of the workplace and this can be to your advantage. A hybrid workplace empowers you by giving you the freedom to work when and where you please while keeping your full-time job. Even though it is the responsibility of your employer to ensure this transition is seamless, it won’t work without the input of the employees who it will affect. By contributing to the planning, implementation, and management of your hybrid workplace, you can improve your own experience.

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Daniella Schoeman