What is hybrid work?
So-called hybrid work is a model of work that allows employees to work either from home or the office as they wish. Generally, employees working in hybrid settings will attend an office two or three times a week and work remotely for the rest.
While many associate a move to hybrid work settings with the pandemic and the subsequent need to minimize close contact, hybrid work is here to stay. Indeed, 63% of high-growth companies have already adapted to a “productivity anywhere” workplace policy, proving that hybridized work is not only logistically possible but also can be a profitable model. But what are the challenges facing organizations in this transition? And how are these challenges impacting employees?
The challenges of hybrid work
Hybrid work is certainly not without its challenges, particularly given how rapidly organizations have had to adapt to remote-first and hybrid work models since the pandemic. One major challenge for employees has been finding a work-life balance and avoiding burnout. According to a recent study conducted by the National Bureau of Economic Research, employees are working longer hours than before the pandemic, with an average additional increase of 8.2%, or 48.5 minutes per day. Microsoft’s 2022 Work Trend Index also revealed a 252% increase in weekly time spent in meetings for the average Microsoft Teams user since February 2020.
Another challenge facing employees is the issue of social isolation. Research reveals that roughly a quarter (23%) of employees did not wish to work remotely in 2021 if not obliged to do so, citing a lack of face-to-face interaction with colleagues as a major issue. The problem of social isolation while working remotely has not only affected employees, however - a 2022 study found that 43% of leaders viewed relationship building as the greatest challenge in remote and hybrid work. With the traditional office setting less frequented, there is a new urgency for employees and employers to overcome the barriers of isolation and build relationships across their virtual teams. A lack of human interaction can have a significant impact on employee morale and productivity, and companies should be prepared to provide additional support for remote workers in order to address this challenge head-on.
The value of digital coaching
Coaching and training can help team members build strong working relationships and provide the support they need to thrive in a virtual environment. By incorporating tools and developing soft skills that support collaborative communication, organizations can provide their employees with the guidance and resources they need to develop and maintain successful and productive relationships across their teams.
One important feature of digital coaching that enables organizations to adapt to hybrid work settings is its scalability. Instead of implementing an L&D program that requires in-person attendance, digital coaching platforms such as Sharpist are able to provide 1:1 coaching for employees from the comfort of their homes. This allows organizations to support and engage their remote workforce by providing digital support as employees adapt to new patterns of work. A combination of digital tools with live coaching support provides employees with the best of both worlds: the flexibility to learn at their own pace and the convenience of learning when and where it’s most convenient for them.
Another important advantage of digital coaching in hybrid work settings is the mental health benefits. Research suggests that as many as 74% of employees have experienced a new mental health issue since working remotely, including anxiety, low motivation, and stress. While there is no one-size-fits-all way to address employees’ mental health challenges, providing social support and developing employees' soft skills such as time management, communication, and boundary-setting can be conducive to a less stressful experience of work. The demand for organizations to provide this is clear - over 50% of employees have stated that they are more likely to prioritize health and well-being over work than before the pandemic. By developing team members and leaders’ soft skills, businesses can ensure more harmonious and effective collaboration that mitigates workplace stresses. Aside from the obvious benefits from an employee perspective, investing in holistic support for employees also improves productivity; according to a recent Gartner study, companies that provide this support for employees realize a 21% increase in high performers.
The process of adapting to hybrid work is, naturally, not without its pitfalls. However, if organizations take proactive steps to invest in employees' well-being and development, as well as developing their adaptability and communication skills, they can ensure that the transition is as smooth as possible. As businesses continue to recover from the effects of the pandemic, offering support to remote workers will be more important than ever before.