Where and how we work have constantly been evolving over the past year in response to the dynamics of the COVID pandemic, with remote work taking center stage. Companies actively moved to a remote working scenario, hoping that most employees would soon return to the workplace as conditions improved.
However, wave after wave of the pandemic has suggested that remote working may be dominant for some time to come. We need to embrace remote working for now and move towards hybrid work culture. Are we prepared not only to adapt but to make it work? How can we intelligently use technology to make things easier for us?
Remote working dynamics
Companies have deftly transitioned to the remote working model using technology and online collaboration and conferencing platforms like Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, and Zoom. Employees have moved their workplaces to their homes and now enjoy a commute-free life and a different mix of work and family time. Parents have the opportunity to be with their children even as they fulfill their work responsibilities.
Although the flexibility, no commute, and convenient work conditions that remote working offers appeal to many, the lack of social interaction and isolation is a big minus. Juggling family and work-life blur the lines between home and office and can take a toll on many. Internet connections may be another challenge because two workers in the same home network can strain available bandwidth. Switching between Wi-Fi networks, internet dongles, and phone hot-spots is a regular scene with limited internet speed and connectivity. Add to that some issues might need on-site IT support.
Companies need to step up, ensure that remote working works for their employees while necessary, and adopt a hybrid work culture with some employees returning to the workplace. We need to make this work for the employees and employers alike proactively.
Challenges of new work styles
Maintaining a work culture when many are working remotely can be tricky. Those in the office might look at it as an advantage for a select few, while remote workers may prefer on-site interactions. Management needs to validate both situations and send out strong messages of support in such cases.
There still might be many things that cannot happen over calls and videos like brainstorming sessions, exchanging ideas, and developing a rapport with fellow team members. Especially with new-employee onboarding happening virtually, the initial bonding period can be difficult, leading to a few lost connections or even frictions. In this case, new remote workers may be offered an initial period of office attendance, where feasible, to build personal, face-to-face connections.
A mix of both in-office and remote working can offer the best of both worlds and drastically reduce the difficulties of both.
Policy changes in a hybrid work culture
There is a need to develop innovative yet practical policies that apply to home areas that double up as office space. From revising dress codes to having rules about being online and present and even having virtual lunch/tea/coffee breaks, HR must spell out the new expectations. As the work dynamics change, so should the measurement of work quality and quantity. Fair and transparent policies will over-burden neither the remote employee nor employees on site.
Even as companies develop policies to make this work, employees need to make sure they are accountable for their work behavior. E.g., ensuring that they are present and engaged on teleconferences and not multitasking home and work tasks.
Benefits of adapting to hybrid work culture
Flexibility and work-life balance are the most significant advantages in hybrid work cultures. Working parents, single parents, and geographically dispersed talent can all be accommodated with wise policy decisions. Remote working can significantly impact diversity and inclusion within an organization when people from different backgrounds and areas of the country or world join in and bring their own unique value to the table. The nonexistence of commute, which can save hours a day for many employees, is a significant benefit in metro cities that can help attract highly skilled talent.
It is a massive step towards a highly flexible future work culture that values both work and home life and helps employees strike the right balance. Employers and employees can collaborate to become future-ready by taking proactive measures to adapt to the hybrid work mode that makes workplaces mobile and work cultures more open.
Role of technology and AI in recruiting the right people
Collaboration technology and AI-assisted recruiting can help. AI can make the recruiting process more unbiased as we can now recruit from across the globe and time zones. Diverse talent acquisition focusing on talent rather than geographical location and background can positively impact diversity in the workforce. Companies need to evaluate how they can quickly adapt to a hybrid hiring structure.
Modern AI-powered recruiting platforms like Arya can help identify and engage promising talent from across the nation and the world. It can drastically reduce recruiting time, important when every worker’s time is stretched to the limit, and help to shortlist suitable candidates from a pool of thousands within minutes. AI-assisted recruiting screens millions of CVs within minutes, matching skill sets and experience with job requirements to present you with the right combination of skills in a candidate. The result: you save countless person-hours, engage with more qualified candidates, and fill open jobs faster.