Two years into the pandemic, many companies have accepted the fact that they must incorporate the hybrid model into their work arrangements. The global survey on the state of hybrid work conducted by Economist Impact and commissioned by Google Workspace in October 2021 shows that 75 percent of employees and managers across industries predict that the hybrid work arrangement will become standard practice in their company up to 2024 at least.
CNBC cites Global Workplace Analytics president Kate Lister stating that many of the millions of American workers who quit their jobs in 2021 sought flexibility and demand the option of working remotely even part of the time.
Types of Hybrid Work
According to research data from Global Workplace Analytics, 56 percent of American employees are in a job that can be done partly in the office and partly remotely. There are several possible permutations of hybrid work. Companies must listen to their employees to find the right fit if they want to retain good talent.
Employees can work fully at the office but with flexible hours. They may be required to stick to the schedule they have determined or be allowed to change their schedules provided they reach a set number of work hours per day or per week.
Employees can work at the office at a set number of days in a week and at home at a set number of days in a week. They may or may not be allowed to choose how many of those days are at the office and how many are at home. They may or may not be allowed to choose what days of the week they will be at the office and at home. For those allowed to choose the days, it can be the same days every week, or they may be given the freedom to change days every week.
Employees can work mostly remotely but report to the office from time to time for certain in-person meetings. These can be set at specific times of the month or scheduled as needed.
Because not everyone can be in the office at the same time in a hybrid work setup, virtual meetings are still necessary. The handling of virtual meetings will also affect the employees’ experience and retention.
Setting-Up Virtual Meetings
The company must provide all employees with a stable and strong internet connection and efficient virtual meeting software that also enables the sharing of files. Managers must ensure that everyone is briefed on how to set up, including sound checks and lighting.
Just as there is a dress code in the office, there must also be a dress code in virtual meetings. People must still present themselves in a professional manner. Sleepwear and gym wear are not appropriate. Business casual outfits will do. Participants must also be well-groomed. Hair must be in place and not look unkempt.
The manager who leads the virtual meeting must set the tone. Confidence and energy radiating through the screens will keep everyone engaged. A manager must present his or her best face in these meetings. If a tooth is lost during the pandemic, for instance, it is best to get a replacement tooth or dental implant as soon as possible so as not to distract others in meetings.
Handling Virtual Meetings
According to the Google Workplace survey, 72 percent of employees and managers state that virtual meetings foster inclusion and improve participation. As many as 68 percent stated, however, that companies tend to hold too many virtual meetings.
Managers must realize that meetings cut into everyone’s productive work hours. Employees need long blocks of hours to focus on their work. Too many virtual meetings can also result in Zoom fatigue.
It is best to have as few meetings as possible and keep them short at 15 minutes. To achieve this, companies can use a messaging app such as Slack. There, a thread created ahead of time for a specific meeting can specify the main agenda. The leader can set out questions. Participants can reply to the questions and add their own questions. If the issue is settled in the Slack thread alone, then there will be no need for a meeting. At other times, the thread will show the need for further discussion in a meeting. Having everyone on the same page and fully prepared will keep the meeting short.
Meetings are also more effective when there are not too many people in them. Include only those who must participate in the discussion. Others who only need to know the results of the meeting can be included in the email list of the meeting minutes. This must include, if appropriate, actions needed, people responsible for each one, and a timetable for each one.
The hybrid work arrangement can be efficient, productive, and healthy with the proper use of virtual meetings. Employees who want to continue to benefit from the hybrid work arrangement are properly motivated to make the most of them.