Challenges of hybrid work and how to overcome them

Here are some of the challenges companies can face when implementing Hybrid as new work model.

view of a hybrid work office
Challenges of hybrid work and how to overcome them
October 4, 2022
Hybrid Work

Challenges of hybrid work and how to overcome them

Hybrid work is not a trend. Rather, the future of work is shaping up in the context of this new form of work. We're talking about a new norm in the world of work that spans broadly across all industries, from pharmaceuticals to science. Enthusiasm is high because the list of benefits of blending face-to-face and remote work is long.

Employees who want to introduce hybrid work are full of enthusiasm, but at the same time companies that have already introduced the new form of work also face new challenges. A new and previously unknown concept always brings obstacles with it, and it is important to identify these in advance so that they can be minimized and overcome. The most common challenges associated with hybrid work are in the areas of communication, coordination, connection and culture. If you want to successfully manage a hybrid team, you should know and understand these stumbling blocks. After all, this is the only way to figure out how to proceed with a clear head. In the following, these challenges will be named in more detail and ways will be shown how they can be overcome.

Man communicating with his team

Communication

Women looking over a Project together

Hybrid work is also synonymous with virtual teams and the geographical distribution of the workforce. Under these conditions, dependence on technology weighs more heavily than ever before. This dependency brings fundamental challenges for communication within a company.

Both employers and employees have experienced during the pandemic what teleworking means and how important it is to overcome technological difficulties. Companies that want to become hybrid must ensure they can meet the demands of this new form of work. This starts with the provision of up-to-date video conferencing systems and their correct handling, but extends to the hardware organization in the office. Are there fixed computers on the desks, or does each employee bring his or her own laptop during office hours? How can I create the same conditions for onsite and remote employees?

And then psychology comes into play. Coupled with the technological challenges, hybrid communication can be complicated by the fact that some people prefer and are more confident communicating virtually via screens than others. This is where power and language differences come into play, which exist in traditional work environments as well, but can be exacerbated by telecommunications.

However, it is possible to learn how to use body language and rhetoric to convince people in digital meetings. Compared to analog communication, the voice channel is much more important in the virtual space, and body language loses its power at the same time. The following are tips for presenting yourself confidently and competently in a virtual meeting:



Eye contact:

A rhetorical tool that creates a personal level and increases the attention of the listeners. In a virtual meeting, this means occasionally looking into the lens of the webcam so that the addressees feel addressed.


Vocal Presence:

Especially in the context of virtual communication, the presence of the voice is of great importance. This can be difficult, as supportive feedback from the auditorium is usually lacking. In the face of the small tiles on the screen, in which we see the rest of the team, understandable, but for a confident performance rather counterproductive. Don't be afraid to lose your audience. As soon as we enjoy speaking, our voice control is also correct and we make the right intonations and speak at an adequate pace.


Rise:

It's important to adopt the right posture in a virtual rhetorical challenge - literally. Standing in front of the laptop can help get out of a slouched sitting posture. Subconsciously, our posture immediately affects our confidence and vocal presence. From a psychological point of view, however, it is also very important here to position the webcam at eye level and to literally meet your listeners at eye level.


Coordination

Workplace with Desk Sharing


Collaboration, whether analog or virtual, requires coordination. On a virtual level, however, an even higher degree of coordination is demanded of those involved. How can we bring together employees who work in the office and those who work remotely? There is a risk of creating fault lines between employees working asynchronously. Coordinating with remote teammates requires extra effort, because minor decisions that are made more or less on site in the office often don't reach remote colleagues. As an employee, it is important to clarify and openly explain who has a say in which decisions, and how and where these decisions are made. If everything is clearly communicated from the beginning, there will be no bad blood and employees will not feel explicitly excluded.

What can I do as an employee:in to avoid fronts?

Clear rules:

Whether on-site or remote - employees should not develop envy toward the other front. With clear rules, such as the definition of fixed times of availability, an awareness can be created among all employees that times of availability or non-availability exist in every work context.

Commitment:

Virtual team members must not be forgotten. Precisely because you don't see them walking down the hall every now and then, targeted communication is an elementary component of good team leadership. It's about creating exchange and promoting team cohesion.


Connections

Woman working remote sitting at Home

But the technical and logistical challenges of networking hybrid workers aren't everything. What happens to social connections when you can suddenly work from anywhere? The morning coffee chat in the hallway is a thing of the past. When social connections are compromised or lost altogether, work suffers. A professional network, including mentoring relationships, are important to drive professional success and, in turn, company success. Apart from that, personal relationships are socially sustainable and important for the psychological well-being of employees. The potential danger in the context of hybrid work is now the emergence of two groupings: A dominant group consisting of those who feel they are at the center of the organization and a subgroup that sees itself on the fringes of the organizational society because it is disconnected from the social life within the organization and thus feels less connected and belonging. The consequences of such a front-lining are devastating. Employees will be less satisfied and less committed to their work, which in turn will affect the success of the company.

How can networking and thus the employee experience be improved?


Tools:

The active exchange between employees, remote or not, can be supported by modern technology. Networking is an essential building block for shaping a culture of innovation in an organization and should therefore be planned and implemented in a structured manner.

Onboarding:

A well-organized onboarding process integrates employees not only professionally, but also socially. Successful onboarding means establishing direct contact with the new team members and the basic building block of developing a sense of belonging. Remote onboarding should not only be limited to technical onboarding, but also focus on social integration.


Culture

Woman working at a Cafe

Teams that are welded together usually work in a very motivated and focused manner. They are the showcase of the corporate culture. But when new employees join, possibly working remotely, energy must be proactively put into socializing these newcomers. It is important to integrate all employees into the corporate culture, regardless of whether they are interns, newcomers or managers. A strong corporate culture also signals to top talent that the company is special, and thus provides a positive counterpart to the competing organization. If a company has a strong culture, employees automatically feel a sense of individual commitment to the company.

Of course, the corporate culture is just as important for existing employees. A positive culture is linked back to strong organizational commitment. The culture must recognize and support the difficulties and needs of all employees. If the culture in the organization is right, employees feel connected to their company, are motivated, and there is less turnover. And especially in times of virtual workforces, culture is more important than ever before.

People meeting at a open Office Space

The challenges of hybrid work will not disappear on their own anytime soon. However, managers can be proactive and identify problems early on and thus overcome them. It should first be evaluated how the hybrid team is functioning and where there is room for improvement. Then, analyze which of the challenges is the most severe. Next, it is important to design a plan for how best to address the problems. Once this is done, problem-solving changes can be implemented.

Guillaume

Hybrid Workplace enthusiast // Growth & Marketing Manager at PULT