The New Workplace Community: Hybrid & Thriving
Rachell Robson | 4 min read
The shift to remote and hybrid work models has forced a monumental change in every facet of work. Sudden and rapid change is disconcerting, but the changing nature of work has proven beneficial beyond its original purpose as a crisis management stopgap. Workers have enjoyed newfound schedule flexibility, less time and money spent commuting, and the opportunity to create a healthier work-life balance. And companies are seeing lower overhead, more efficient and flexible use of space, and to everyone’s surprise — increased employee productivity.
As a result, hybrid work has proven its worth to both fiscal and actual health — which makes it easy to overlook, or even ignore, what’s gone missing. Hybrid work models limit opportunities for employee interaction, and a thriving workplace community is essential to business success. Low social cohesion can lead to employee disengagement with consequences for communication, teamwork, and the productivity benefits of new work models. A connected workplace community has the opposite effect — with clear benefits for acceptance, respect, and transparency that improve communication, teamwork, and yes, productivity.
Community is still a vital element of business success — no matter where your employees sit down to work each day.
The Challenges of Hybrid Work
The shift to a hybrid workplace is not without its challenges. Without the daily in-person interaction employees get from meetings, training sessions, and informal “watercooler” conversations, it’s easy for them to feel disconnected from their colleagues and team members. Moving forward, intentional and deliberate planning can help employers build the necessary infrastructure for new work models and establish best practices for hybrid workplace success.
- Give employees access to — and training in — the tools necessary to keep them active in the work community. Address proficiency needs with specific interactive training modules and regular refresher courses. Implement a learning management system (LMS) or learning experience platform (LXP) to create inclusive online learning opportunities.
- Meet cybersecurity requirements upfront. Safe, reliable technology and secure interactive platforms protect sensitive employer and employee data.
- Plan for teamwork and employee collaboration. Explore a variety of ways teams can meet, brainstorm, plan, and work together in groups. Group email, chats, instant messaging, message boards, group learning activities, and other interactive options can be deployed together for a well-rounded approach that honors employee preference.
- Revise training processes and workflows, develop new models where necessary, and implement an LMS or LXP accessible to every employee in every part of the organization — on and offsite.
- Use LMS or LXP group learning modules to align goals, practices, and procedures across your company’s workforce.
Build a community for your company’s dispersed workforce by planning for ease of transition and communication, and offer the training, learning platforms, communication tools, technology, and other options necessary to give hybrid employees equivalent access to workplace team building and camaraderie.
A New Kind of Community
Most of your employees are already familiar with remote social interaction. Social media has made building and maintaining remote relationships second nature — particularly for younger demographics. But translating this knowledge and ability to the workplace can be daunting for employers and employees unfamiliar or uncomfortable with online communication and community building, and there’s likely to be a learning curve for those who are familiar as well. Online social activity encourages casual interaction at a level some may consider inappropriate for the workplace.
Use transition time as an opportunity to reinforce company values. A commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives, for instance, is bolstered by an employer’s consideration — and accommodation — for employee access, sense of belonging, and technical capability. Remote work technology may be daunting for some workers at first, so focus on providing training and assistance, and emphasize the positive effects of technology for communication and collaboration. Advantages for hybrid and remote workers include:
- Inclusion in day-to-day office activity, group training sessions, and employee celebrations.
- Community and relationship building through technology.
- Remote collaboration and project management with technology tools for engaging onsite and offsite team members.
- Easy social interaction and communication via remote technology — with the right equipment, access, and training.
- Enhanced leadership engagement to aid with continuity of progress, availability, collaboration, and team building.
- Frequent and varied opportunities for online team communication, collaboration, training, and social interaction.
A transition of this magnitude doesn’t happen every day, and many companies are retroactively revising hastily implemented remote and hybrid work models. Keep the lines of communication open. Be receptive to employee feedback, and resolve issues as quickly and efficiently as possible. Hybrid work models have proven their worth, but long-term implementation requires maintenance, continuous improvement, and communication. The workplace community looks a little different now, but with the right tools — and a firm commitment from both employer and employees — the community will thrive in a hybrid workplace.
For more on using your company’s LMS or LXP to create a thriving workplace community in a hybrid work environment, visit wisetail.com.