Ever since the pandemic, the way businesses function has changed. Work cultures, work environments, and technology dependencies have been drastically altered. But unfortunately, not everyone has been able to keep up with the pace.

Poly recently conducted its Recruit, Retain, and Grow Report survey to identify how many businesses are prepared for the future of work. The results revealed that only 37% of the respondents looking at hybrid-working on a long-term basis are equipped with a strategy and are ready for such a transition.

Considering that people have never witnessed the need for such a drastic long-term change in how and where they work, this isn’t a shocking number. However, several businesses, especially within the IT sector, had to take quick action as the pandemic struck in 2020 to maintain their businesses. The pandemic has significantly catalyzed technological developments, pushing us to reach at least five years beyond our capabilities. 

With concepts such as remote or hybrid working, the development of the Metaverse, the growth of AI, and more, the world has reached a new future. Now that the world has arrived at a technologically equipped era, the digital world, IT teams, and business decision-makers require a well-thought-out strategy to empower employee productivity and efficiency at work, regardless of their working location.

Some things need to be considered to ease the hybrid working journey for any business and make it as smooth as possible.

Building A Hybrid Strategy

No guidebook or road map can be followed under such circumstances because no one has experienced such events that lead to such drastic dependency on technological developments. Every organization comes across unique challenges that need unique solutions to work through. Three key questions should be considered as businesses begin working towards their customized strategy.

1. How Hybrid is the business planning to be? 

This means answering questions: Is the organization planning to become completely remote, or would there be specific days when employees work from home and from the office? Or would different groups of employees come to the office on set days? For example, some employers leave it up to the employees to work from their preferred locations to ensure everyone stays online during a specified time of the day. This way, if the office location is too far from the employee’s location, they have the freedom to choose where they would wish to work.

Studies have shown that 78% of employees in the UAE believe that Hybrid working has enabled them to save more money due to lesser travel. Moreover, Cisco research also found that employees felt a greater sense of work-life balance globally while hybrid or remote working. 64.2% of employees said they saved over 4 hours per week, and 25.8% said they saved over 8 hours per week in travel time. 

2. What office space would the organization be looking to create? 

Some businesses prefer a traditional office space, while others prefer co-working hubs where remote workers can gather. Organizations must consider what kind of spaces they would provide for their employees. For example, would organizations have desks assigned to employees or choose where they sit to work, or would employees have collaboration spaces for their team projects? 

According to a 2021 study by Tide, the UAE has only 1.74 co-working spaces for every 100,000 people. Another report by Summertown UAE explained that 83% of workers from collaborative office spaces feel more productive, and 84% of employees feel more engaged and motivated to work. However, there can be downsides to this too. 

Man using phone and laptop at home
Envato Elements

3. How will employers support remote employees? 

Multiple reports and surveys suggest remote work can benefit employee productivity and work-life balance. However, employees might sometimes feel overwhelmed or disconnected, leading to burnout. With the perception that employees need to be “always online,” it isn’t uncommon for employees to feel an imbalance between their work and personal lives.

A survey by Flexjobs explained that 76% of employees feel that workplace stress affects their mental health. Moreover, 48% thought they lacked emotional support at work to help them manage overwhelming tasks.

However, when it comes to providing support, the same research also highlighted that 56% of those surveyed believed that a positive approach to providing support is to allow them more flexibility during work hours. That being said, 49% of employees feel that having the freedom to work from anywhere at any time has been identified to have improved their productivity. 

Navigating A Hybrid Office

The requirements of a workplace are changing within the blink of an eye, and it is crucial to keep up with the market without compromising on the workforce's needs. Poly even worked on a report in collaboration with Worktech Academy discussing The Journey to Hybrid Working: Twelve Considerations. The information goes over a few key points of how the working landscape has changed over the past two years and what firms need to keep in mind moving forward. 

Employers must understand how to navigate their way through matching the flexibility of space with the flexibility of time while accommodating different combinations for employees based on their needs and well-being. In addition, organizations need to find a way to build a balance between asking employees to stay on without overworking them or having them reach a point of burnout.

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