For everyone who had their fair share of issues with fully remote work, the hybrid model arrived as a welcome middle ground.
However, hybrid work hasn’t come without its own set of challenges. Nothing does.
A ‘Future of Work’ study conducted by AT&T and Dubber Corporation found that hybrid is indeed the future but over 72% of businesses lack the strategy to make it work for them.
Fine-tuning the many rough edges can be mightily rewarding and favorable to businesses.
The blended work model (in-office and remote) gives a host of benefits to company culture, new-hires, flexibility, collaboration and social life, to name a few. However, the problems, from the point of view of organizations, are quite a few as well. Let’s look at the main ones.
Thrice-a-Week Doesn’t Equal Managed
As mentioned earlier, it is impossible to have all employees working from the office or their homes, at a required time without a ‘system’.
Every employee has different preferences relating to the number and the specific days they would like to come to the office.
And these preferences aren’t exactly unjustified.
The issue, as experts point out, is that this wide array of preferences needs to be aligned with the work required to be done.
All work comes with a defined timeline.
Without a defined timeline, it’s not work, it’s a hobby.
However, these alignments are a daunting task to structure. Most companies often select specific days of the week for employees to come into the office.
In other cases, organizations let employees choose their preferences while maintaining all the space and facilities for that one theoretical day when they all might choose to come in
If the product was space inventory then in business terms, this equals to extreme wastage caused by over-stocking because of the inability to manage or predict inventory.
This selection of days by the employer or by the employee is typically rather arbitrary and has no bearing on the actual relevance of tasks, projects, and deadlines that a team is required to meet.
All Roads Lead to Chaos
Different people and teams want or need to be in-office for different reasons. The reasons may be the ones below or any other;
- Consulting co-workers.
- Deep focus.
Some may want to just be in office because they need to be in a ‘work-environment’.
Not all reasons that requires people to be in office premises require those people to be in the same office premises.
Employees may need to be in office to have a central meeting place with others. Some employees may simply need to be co-located with other departmental teams for a few days (after all, cross-functional work needs more internal consultation while the work your own team does is familiar and requires lesser consultation).
Others may need the resources available in specific certain premises, and those premises may not be the same as the ones the person, team or other departments may be at (think about a meeting room with multi-conference or projector facilities in premises A whereas your team is at premises B and the department being coordinated with is at premises C. How do you coordinate the meeting and reserve the space without going nuts?).
For organizations, having five such high-end meeting rooms often turns out to be a waste but with one or two of them, organizations need to coordinate how and who gets to use them in an orderly and predictable fashion.
Even with all the investments of a remote-capable station that connects the employees and teams working remotely with in-office employees at a given time, employees or supervisors may want to be where the rest of the team is to better coordinate and collaborate. This is especially true when running against timelines. (asynchronous work is best when there is enough buffer built-in so as to account for everyone’s schedules. Crunch times and async work don’t go well together).
Frankly, without a solution system, it is difficult (almost impossible) for all required people and teams to be together with the resources that they need when they need them.
Hybrid work is the best of both worlds only if the extra effort is taken to coordinate between remote and in-office employees.
Otherwise, it may be chaos, with everyone focusing on what works best for their productivity and no one focusing on what’s best for the organization and its stakeholders.
No Collaboration and Less Creativity
Brainstorming sessions often need a human touch of spontaneity. While ideas can be arrived at in a remote setup as well, the nonchalance and ease that in-person sessions offer cannot be replicated. It is how we are geared.
And frankly, it is not a problem we want to solve, being social animals.
This problem further becomes complicated when certain tasks need urgent in-person collaboration but risk getting delayed if all team members are not present in the same physical space. Minor decisions may be taken without keeping remote employees in the loop.
Moreover, most teams still don’t know how to make creativity thrive when some team members are working from the office and others at home. The best of efforts of teams are watered down because personal circumstances of individual employees may not be supportive when needed.
Further, overlaps and clashes create a dangerous lag in communication that can manifest into business errors and mismanagement of deadlines.
Moreover, connectivity issues blow-up into a major concern. Important information can be missed out or not updated immediately, and that can create a domino effect of misunderstandings, incomplete and unclear instructions, delayed deliverables, and shifting accountability and responsibility from one person to the other.
A random, arbitrary method without a “system” to adopt the hybrid work model can backfire and quickly convert a boon into a problem.
Hybrid work needs to be managed, organized, perfected and rounded off with a central enabling system to best enjoy its benefits to profit and to life.