As we emerge into a post-pandemic world, the business landscape looks dramatically different to the nine-to-five office grind we once accepted as the norm.
COVID-19 forced us to challenge this ideal, as millions of workers transitioned into home offices around the world.
What was anticipated to be a disruptive and negative working experience instead unlocked opportunities for increased flexibility, greater productivity and striking the elusive work / life balance.
Venturing into “COVID-normal” many businesses have adopted a hybrid business model where staff mix up their days between office and home, allowing autonomy and freedom to work when and where they are most productive.
While these side-effects of the pandemic seem to have delivered time-poor workers some breathing room, there are some potential pitfalls.
Hybrid models unravel when staff members feel isolated, frustrated, and above all, disconnected from their teams.
For some, going to work is a big part of their social identity. The watercooler conversations, team coffee runs and day-to-day comradery disappear when at home. Suddenly, our contact with one another can become extremely transactional.
Humans are wired to make eye contact, picking up on facial expressions and body language, all of which become problematic and mentally taxing when joining meetings remotely.
Despite these challenges, I have seen great examples of hybrid models producing fantastic benefits.
The key for businesses is to identify ways for staff to better connect and collaborate when in the office, as well as providing the support required to help them make the most of working from home.
Leaders must provide opportunities to come together and discuss how to operate as a team. Ask questions like, what is our shared vision? What does this team look like when it is at its best?
It might also be setting expectations of each other, something as simple as turning cameras on for meetings or setting time for professional development and team building.
Two years ago, at the start of the pandemic, people struggled without routine and social interaction while leaders grappled with a lack of staff contact.
Fast forward to 2022 where businesses get to have cake and eat it too through a flexible working approach leading to productive and happier teams.