3 things to consider when implementing a hybrid working model
Before you make the transition for yourself and your staff, here are some important considerations
There’s no question that the world of work is changing. Shifts that were beginning before the outbreak of COVID-19 have only accelerated in the aftermath of the pandemic.
Among the most significant of these, perhaps, is the growing demand for remote work opportunities. And, in response to these important evolutions in employee expectations, business leaders are increasingly interested in implementing hybrid working models in their companies.
But before you make the transition for yourself and your staff, there are some important considerations to address first.
Even if your employees are only going to be working remotely a few hours per week, one of the first and most important issues you’re going to need to address is cybersecurity. Protecting your data and your systems can be quite different in a hybrid working model than in a more traditional setup.
At the very least, you should consider setting up firewalls and a secure VPN that all employees will be required to use anytime they are working, whether they’re working on campus or remotely. Additionally, you should ensure that your employees are trained to ensure system security in remote work environments. This should not only involve requiring them to use the secure portals you have provided but it should also include training in the safe handling of mobile work devices.
For instance, employees should be required to password protect any device on which work applications are installed. They should also be trained to handle mobile devices responsibly, including ensuring that they know where their work devices are at all times.
Defining the Role of the Remote Worker
Now, more than ever, it appears that the virtual office environment is the future of work. But, no matter how important a role remote work is likely to play in the continued success of your business, the correlation between the digital office and the physical office is unlikely to be exact.
And that means that you will need to clearly define the role, status, and expectations of and for the remote worker. For example, if your hourly employees are working on a hybrid schedule, will their pay rates be the same when working remotely as when working on campus?
This can be a thorny issue in the hybrid model, because a lower hourly wage for remote work may incentivize employees to use the virtual or physical office space. On the other hand, wages equal to that of on-campus work may be unfair insofar as it does not consider the cost savings associated with working from home.
When transitioning to a hybrid model, you’ll also need to consider how your workers will be classified. Will they be considered regular, full-time employees? Contract workers? Your hybrid employees’ classification status will have a significant impact on your business, from taxation to entitlements, to labor laws and regulations.
Mental Health Considerations
For many employees, the hybrid working model is the best of both worlds because it combines the convenience of working from home with the benefits of on-campus engagement with coworkers and supervisors. That does not mean, however, that all employees will thrive in such an environment.
And, indeed, even workers who actively sought out a hybrid schedule may find themselves struggling from time to time with the mental health challenges that can arise when working remotely. Remote workers may find themselves feeling anxious about using their work from home technology. They may feel concerned about being able to meet expectations when they don’t have immediate, face-to-face access to their colleagues. They may simply feel lonely or isolated at times when they’re removed from the social environment of the physical office.
For this reason, it’s important to be prepared to provide mental health support for your hybrid workers. The good news, though, is that such support isn’t difficult to give. For instance, you can help boost your employees’ mood when they’re working remotely by showing them how to create a work-from-home environment that supports their mental health. You might even go the extra mile by providing employees with a gift card to be used to furnish and decorate their home office for both productivity and comfort.
Now, more than ever, employees want and expect to have the opportunity to work from home at least part of the time. And that means that the hybrid working model may well be the future of work. However, there are important considerations that employers should address before making the transition.
The first and most significant is the prioritization of cybersecurity in the hybrid environment, from establishing secure platforms to training employees in security best practices. In addition, employers must clearly define the status of hybrid workers, including establishing fair pay rates for remote work.
Finally, the mental health of hybrid workers must be nurtured, including through the creation of a healthy home office environment. Though there’s much to consider, with such care and planning, the transition to a hybrid model can be seamless and imminently successful.