Growing & Ensuring Fairness With Hybrid Working
Hybrid workplaces are becoming more popular, but they can create inequalities between employees if the transition and growth isn’t handled correctly. Ezra discusses handling equity and equality between hybrid working teams, and the key role that leadership has to play.
We’ve mentioned it before, but a recent survey by McKinsey showed that 9 out of 10 organizations are switching to hybrid working. That’s a staggering 90% of companies that are looking to mix both onsite and remote employees for maximum business productivity and efficiency. That’s an incredible number considering that before the global health crisis, only 6% of American employees worked remotely. We’re seeing amazing growth both in terms of the adoption of hybrid work models but also the technologies surrounding them. Zoom has become a pillar of remote work models and new software is constantly being developed to solve hybrid work model challenges.
But regardless of what work model your business adopts in the future, your employees will always be at the core of your company. Without them, there would be no business and there would be no need to adopt a hybrid work model. The purpose of offering flexibility is to make it easier for your employees to work at their best and to give them more control over how they want to work. A Prudential survey showed that 87% of American workers would prefer to continue working remotely at least one day a week, and the same survey showed that 68% think a hybrid workplace model is ideal.
But there’s a clear problem that rears its head the moment we consider a hybrid work model; how do we keep things fair and equal?
What is fairness in a hybrid workplace?
To start, we need to define what we consider to be “fair” in a hybrid workplace. In most cases, it can boil down to the following factors:
- A level playing field where both onsite and remote employees are valued.
- Fostering an inclusive environment that mixes both onsite and remote employees.
- Providing everyone with the tools they need to do their job.
- Offering advancement opportunities to every employee regardless of where they work.
- Access to the same or similar resources and benefits.
- Reward structures for both onsite and remote employees.
This isn’t an exhaustive list of factors to consider in order to create a fair hybrid workplace. However, it’s a great place to start and expresses some of the biggest concerns that employees have when adopting a hybrid working model.
Hybrid work models create parity in employee experiences
We have to accept that when we adopt a hybrid work model, we’re creating parity in employee experiences. A remote employee is going to approach their day in an entirely different way to someone that works in the office. An onsite employee is going to have access to expensive equipment and powerful computers, whereas remote workers will likely only have access to a laptop and limited resources to get their work done. On the flipside, an onsite employee will need to commute to work, whereas a remote employee can just get out of bed and start working immediately.
There are definitely going to be differences in how people experience their workday and this is where inequalities can begin to appear. Your employees are doing similar if not the same work both in the office and at home, but there’s no question that they have access to different resources depending on where they choose to work. This ultimately affects the quality of work that they produce and it’s easy to penalize staff or underestimate the difficulties one may face due to their work conditions.
In short, there are going to be differences between how onsite and remote employees experience an average workday. This is completely fine and you need to embrace this fact because it’s impossible to create an identical work experience. However, there are still ways to ensure that the workplace is fair despite the parity.
Keeping things fair in a hybrid workplace
The keys to keeping things balanced in a hybrid work model are establishing transparent processes and communicating with employees. However, it’s also important to understand what fairness means in the context of your business and your employees. Every business does things differently so strategies need to be tailored towards your company. Here are some important ideas to help ensure fairness with hybrid working.
Providing access to similar resources
Fairness can mean providing your employees with similar resources to carry out their jobs. An onsite employee typically has the advantage here because they’re given access to powerful hardware to carry out their job. If you want to even the playing field, then it’s in your best interests to provide similar hardware to your remote employees so they can also carry out their work at the same or a similar level of efficiency. If your employees feel like there is something that could improve their work at home, then it’s important to keep communications open so they can make suggestions. If a small investment in their home working environment can improve both their happiness and productivity, then it’s well worth considering their request.
Increasing communication with remote employees
Casual office interactions allow managers to keep track of how their employees are doing. In comparison, remote employees often work with minimal guidance and supervision. In order to replicate the casual interactions that one would experience when working onsite, it’s important for managers to communicate through video calls, voice calls, and messaging apps with remote employees. This informs leaders, forges stronger relationships, and encourages teamwork.
Revise workplace policies
Your current workplace policies may involve outdated processes like performance indicators and metrics that are used to evaluate employee performance. These processes likely won’t be able to work in the context of a hybrid work model because remote employee performance needs to be evaluated differently. But because of the differences, you can’t really compare performance between onsite and remote workers. As such, these policies should be scrapped in favor of results-based performance reviews so that workers are judged more fairly.
Hybrid working will no doubt create different experiences in onsite and remote employees, but it’s extremely important to focus on creating an inclusive work environment that addresses concerns from both sides. Overlooking or failing to address these differences will lead to long term resentment on both sides, resulting in unhappy employees, reduced engagement and a loss of productivity for the organization as a whole.
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