We could be wrong but we have a sneaking suspicion that the hybrid workforce is going to stick around. Okay, so it’s less of an inkling and more of an informed opinion. A recent CIPD report on the post-pandemic workplace stated:
“…working from home on a regular basis is expected to rise to 37% of the workforce on average, roughly double the pre-crisis incidence average of 18%.”¹
Besides those convincing numbers, there’s also proof that employees are not going to be happy if their managers don’t get with the times, in fact, another recent study suggested 54% of employees said they would quit if not offered flexibility in their work schemes.²
It’s about time we all start laying some solid foundations down for what’s to come. Here are five steps you can take towards implementing a successful hybrid model.
Step 1: Embrace the asynchronous
Yes, it’s a bit of a mouthful, but we thought ‘asynchronous’ had a better ring to it than ‘not learning at the same time.’
For businesses to deliver a hybrid working model that actually works well, they’ll first have to move on from traditional ideas of what the ideal workplace looks like. Chief among these is the need to bring everyone together in the same place at the same time. This especially relates to managers that are prioritising best L&D practises (which they should, if we do say so ourselves.)
Now, we’re not suggesting you board up the classroom. Hybrid, by definition, requires a level of face-to-face interaction. What we are saying is that understanding — and making accommodations for — the varying needs of your colleagues is crucial. Forcing everyone to drop what they’re doing at the same time probably isn’t all that good for business either.
Allowing learners to come to the task at their own pace and in their own time is the sort of action a manager can take to show they’re committed to the transition and to their employees. Turning to engaging and educational resources like on-demand video content that can be accessed via any device and self-directed learning pathways take this forward.
Was that plug too blatant? Sorry (not sorry.)
Suggested reading: That last bit pique your interest? Try this article on why video should be part of your digital learning solution.
Step 2: Have regular check-in sessions
As much as we all love the fact that working from home means we don’t even need to wear shoes (Gerald from HR never wore them around the office in the first place), it’s not all upside. Full-time remote workers will attest to the fact it can get lonely at times; densely populated Zoom calls can leave employees feeling more isolated than they did before they joined.
That’s why leaders and managers must establish regular contact with colleagues who embrace the flexibility of the system. And don’t be under the impression that it all has to be about work. Yes, feedback and development sessions are a staple of any meaningful D&I policy but so is being authentic. The CIPD agrees:
“Checking in with team members at regular times can help combat isolation and stress. You may want to hold longer one-to-ones to allow time for discussion of remote working challenges and for non-work catch-up.”³
Fending off isolation isn’t just in the best interests of employees, either. A 2018 study concluded: “greater workplace loneliness is related to lower job performance.”⁴ So, really, it is indeed crucial to check in and ask what everyone bingewatched over the weekend, no matter what Gerald says about “sticking to work talk.”
Step 3: Be primed to welcome new starters
Lots of people found new employment during the pandemic. This means they might be able to list out every piece of wall decor of their colleagues’ working-from-home spaces, but still have no clue where the tea bags are kept because they’ve never set foot in the office space. Businesses transitioning to a hybrid work environment would do well to remember what we’re transitioning from to begin with.
Companies must make the information a new starter needs readily available, particularly if those recruits choose to continue working from home for a handful of days a week. This extends from the company Wiki to the courses and resources needed to succeed in their role/new surroundings. Organisations should anticipate questions but never the words: ‘how do I access the learning materials?’
We may be biased but we would argue that the most effective way to approach learning in a hybrid workplace is to provide universal access to a standardised library of high-quality video content. This will enable learners to:
- Plug gaps in their own time so they don’t interfere with their workflows.
- Engage with the materials they need at the precise moment they need them so productivity is maintained.
- Have materials that are engaging to begin with to facilitate longer lasting learning.
Step 4: Understand that hybrid means hybrid
Hybrid is its own entity. It’s not a watered-down version of the fully remote work model that we suddenly found ourselves in — and likely embraced once we realised we could basically go to work without putting shoes on.
If flexible working is here to stay, leaders and managers must set out easy-to-understand policies on what is expected from employees in this kind of set up. While WFH has allowed many to develop a better work-life balance, it has also been a source of anxiety. A recent study by Microsoft and the CIPD found that 53% of employees felt they had to be available at all times; 52% of respondents said they work longer hours and take fewer breaks.⁵
Putting meaningful and considerate guidance in place will allow employees to work in this new landscape with confidence. Consider methods like an office rota so that everyone can see who will be in when, or even having set days for the week that everyone should aim to be in. This also goes back to what we said about not solely thinking about the work side of things. Nobody should be made to feel left on the wayside socially just because they weren’t around for impromptu after-office drinks. Plan ahead and think about how you can keep your culture of collaboration and teamwork thriving, regardless of whether someone’s in the building or at their desk at home.
With that said, leaders and managers must also be mindful of the new kid on the inequality block: proximity bias. Fail to address it and you risk creating a culture in which: “…the people who choose to return to offices will get ahead, while those who stay at home fall behind”.⁶ A workforce with a ‘WFH team’ and an ‘office team’ is not hybrid, nor is it really a team.
Step 5: Personalised learning, on demand
Work-from-home regulations presented a unique opportunity for L&D professionals. The shift from face-to-face learning towards an always-on, digital way of working opened the door to a level of personalisation that may otherwise have remained closed — and personalisation is the key ingredient to perfecting your learning recipe.
Connecting informative resources with goals that are more specific to your company’s and employees’ goals is key to supercharging your strategies. In fact, 77% of L&D professionals think personalised learning is vital to employee engagement.⁷
Given the hybrid workforce is a relatively new phenomenon, it’s fair to say that many organisations are going to spend time adjusting and adapting. Every business will need to guide its staff through the transition and the inevitable iterations that lie ahead. That’s why prioritising L&D structures that are equal parts educational and — dare we say — entertaining is really the best way to have you and your workforce at the top of your hybrid working game.
Suggested reading: Fancy a deep dive? Watch our recorded webinar on mastering hybrid working for exclusive top tips on how to develop a hybrid workplace primed for excellence.
Now, pair personalised learning with the power of video (93% of teachers believe that video improves learning experiences) and you have a very potent combination.⁸ Add humour into the mix (studies show it can increase learning by 15%) and you’re really onto something.⁹
And, just because we love our percentages, we 100% believe that we at Video Arts are the learning content provider you need. We can provide fully bespoke and/or semi-custom video content featuring some of the most recognisable faces in British comedy. That’s a winning formula. What’s more, our extensive library includes courses and resources on all aspects of remote and hybrid work. That means we’re ready when you are. Drop us a note when you get there.