Make no mistake, when COVID-19 struck, the future of the workplace changed for good (if not for the better!). Many employers transitioned to hybrid and remote operations without much preparation. Like riding a bike, we all had to learn by doing it.
Fast forward to two years later. Hybrid work boasts clear benefits – from increased profits and employee productivity to improved morale, to name a few. But, in this case, our silver lining comes with a few dark clouds.
Hybrid work environments may usher in new challenges for your employees. Tech issues will, no doubt, surface. And collaboration and creativity might even tank. That’s why we’ve compiled six of the most common challenges hybrid workplaces face and what your team can do to crush them.
What Are the Benefits of Offering a Hybrid Work Environment?
Challenges will surface regardless of whether you’re on the fence about offering remote work or whether your team is a well-oiled hybrid machine. That’s Murphy’s Law, right?
Before we dive into the most common challenges your team may experience in a hybrid work environment, let’s kick off with all the benefits you may encounter, too!
- Improves efficiency across the board
- Allows greater flexibility for how (and when) your employees work
- Mitigates employee burnout
- Saves money on commuting costs
- Is environmentally friendly
- Enables employees to achieve a better work-life balance
- Employees are more productive
- Work satisfaction and morale are often higher
The 6 Most Common Challenges for Hybrid Companies
Your company is unique, and your hybrid team will likely experience tailored obstacles that no other company will. But for hybrid work teams across the board, here are six of the most common challenges we can all expect to face.
1. Technical Woes Can Pop Up
With your hybrid workers spread out across cities, states, or even time zones, you can bank on one thing – technical and connectivity issues will arise. Here are some of the most common technical issues your team might face:
- Limited or no internet connectivity
- Broadband reliability
- Hardware malfunctions
- Limited or unavailable technical support
Of course, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution since the best way to fix technical problems depends on each individual situation. However, there are a few best practices you can always follow to help keep your hybrid team on track:
- Determine which devices, equipment, and technical capabilities your team will need to perform their best.
- Offer an annual stipend for premium internet service in employees’ local area.
- Invest in your technical support team. Even better, ensure the team is available outside of working hours.
- Ergonomics may be an issue for some of your employees. Ensure their home office environment is comfortable.
2. Effective Communication May Become Tricky
When you can no longer pop into an employee’s office or meet up with them at the local coffee shop, getting the answers or advice you need – when you need them – may be tricky. It’s only natural that when our work environment changes, so does how we communicate with our team– and how they communicate with one another.
Miscommunication can lead to confusion and even bring your workflow down to a snail’s pace. Not to mention, it can be costly!
- Update your policies to reflect remote/hybrid work needs.
- Be selective about the communication channels you use to deliver or gather information. For instance, save Zoom or live video for more important matters.
- Invest in a knowledge management tool to keep everyone (and the resources they need) in one place.
- Consider using Slack, Discord, or a similar, easy-to-use communication system where your team can reach one another in real-time.
- Get creative, lighten the mood, and encourage communication breakthroughs by hosting an online event like the Virtual Music Festival for your employees.
Collaboration Can Tank
Maybe you’re on the cusp of adopting a hybrid work environment. And the issue that’s keeping you from committing? Not knowing how your team will continue to collaborate effectively from different locations.
That’s a significant concern. After all, effective collaboration can sharpen your team’s problem-solving skills and lead to heightened innovation and breakthroughs. But a new hybrid environment may derail your team from reaching those goals.
Ready for a Remedy?
- You can still meet in person in a hybrid workplace. Schedule face-to-face meetings while also figuring out a comparable, online alternative.
- Find a platform that can accommodate your team’s synchronous and asynchronous collaboration strategies.
- Focus on scheduling regular meetings and providing constructive feedback.
- Lean on innovative ways to build collaboration no matter where your team works. The Global Innovation Game may fit the bill! But virtual team-building activities that focus on honing collaboration skills are essential.
4. Collective Creativity Can Take a Nose Dive
When we think of collective creativity, we think of working together to share thoughts and ideas and combine resources and expertise. But if your employees’ collective creativity has tanked since the hybrid transition, you may feel stuck in getting them back on a creative path.
- Avoid micromanaging your hybrid team. Instead, offer flexible work hours that work for them and their creative process.
- If social isolation or low morale is a problem for your team’s collective creativity, consider planning a hybrid activity or event like At the Races to foster friendly competition.
- Fight wavering creativity with an out-of-the-box approach. Set up a hybrid team event that will allow your employees to hone their collective creativity in a fun way. The iBuild event can foster their strategic thinking and collaborative problem-solving skills.
- Encourage your team to schedule regular, virtual brainstorming sessions.
5. Maintaining a Strong Company Culture Can Be Difficult
What would you say if you had to describe your company’s corporate culture? Is it positive? Uplifting? Inclusive?
Working face-to-face, we can usually get a clear sense of what the company culture is. For instance, are employees freely and comfortably discussing something about their own life? Or are there rumors materializing around every corner?
With a hybrid work environment, it may be a little more challenging to determine if your company culture is positive or tanking one byte at a time.
How to Fortify Your Hybrid Company Culture
- Create a virtual mentorship program to better support your employees.
- Always aim for transparency.
- Assess whether your company’s values and mission are still evident in the hybrid work environment.
- No need to shoulder this responsibility on your own. Seek regular feedback from your hybrid team and involve them in strategies to strengthen your company culture.
- Recognize and reward achievements and breakthroughs!
6. Issues With Inequality & Inclusion Can Surface
Diverse, marginalized employees can experience clear disadvantages when making connections, leadership access, and advancement in a hybrid work environment. This can lead to a less diverse and inclusive hybrid workplace.
Here’s What You Can Do
- Always keep a virtual open door and an empathetic ear.
- Determine how you can support and accommodate team members who have different needs. Seek both internal feedback and external expertise.
- Offer tailored mentoring opportunities for all team members.
- Offer team-building activities that will make your hybrid work environment even more inclusive. Impact Online can bring everyone to the table with a competition that revolves around the UN’s list of 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
Ready to Remedy Your Company’s Hybrid Work Woes?
Countless companies (and employees) are thriving in hybrid and remote work environments. In short, they’re here to stay. That should tell you just how much the benefits outweigh the challenges. And let’s face it – there are challenges in the physical workplace, as well.
To set your team up for success – or, even better, to take preventative measures as you transition into a hybrid work environment – it’s best to make the process as smooth as possible. Planning fun and engaging hybrid team events can provide an outlet where employees can work on honing their communication, collaboration, problem-solving skills, and more.
Not to mention, these events can add some fun to the hybrid transition (or continuation). And the more at ease your team is during this process, the better their morale. That can only be a win-win for them and for strengthening your hybrid company culture!