Webinar I Transitioning to a hybrid working model

When the ‘circuit breaker’ hit Singapore back in April 2020, many companies were not prepared for remote working. Now that many employees are re-emerging from their homes and remote work locations, the key challenge is transitioning to a hybrid working model – a mix of working remotely and in the office.

When the ‘circuit breaker’ hit Singapore back in April 2020, many companies were not prepared for remote working. Now that many employees are re-emerging from their homes and remote work locations, the key challenge is transitioning to a hybrid working model – a mix of working remotely and in the office.

What should be considered when transitioning to a hybrid working environment?

  • Employees may feel disengaged or disconnected, especially when they have been working remotely for a long period of time. Communication is key, so it is important for companies to provide regular updates to their staff on what is happening within the organisation.
  • Employees need to know what is expected of them. Set relevant competencies and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to benchmark their progress.
  • Digitalisation of work processes by the management.
  • Developing talent for the future.

There are several ways of addressing these main points.

Engaging your employees and managing their performance

The level of interaction among employees is at a very low point compared to life before the pandemic. To address this, employee engagement must be planned, be it a 30-minute or 15-minute call twice a week to catch up with each other.

Leaders and managers need to consciously create opportunities to engage their team. While these scheduled appointments might seem artificial and risk lacking the warmth of interacting in person, they are best for finding out more about one’s teammate or employee. Leaders need to pick up on cues and learn more about the environment the employee is working in. Getting to know each other better will foster stronger relationships in the workplace, and lead to a more comfortable working environment.

Performance management helps guide employees towards the areas which they need to focus on.  This helps to address any development gaps and helps build a clear performance improvement plan for an employee. Having performance management software is important, especially if the manager has lesser visibility of his team members’ activities while working remotely.

Although a management software is necessary to keep track of performance, it cannot fully replace interpersonal communication. Ultimately, human interaction is still key to building strong and effective performance improvement plans.

Digitalisation at work

In the last 6 to 9 months, companies, regardless of size, have had to digitalise their work processes due to strict COVID measures. Since employees were not allowed to return to their offices, each organisation had to look for ways to adapt. Various options in the market such as Microsoft OneDrive or the Microsoft Office Suite were implemented; the secondary challenge was to ensure that everyone was onboarded with the same platforms. Many companies saw immediate transformation in their workflow, and success in digitising their historical records. Some even introduced a hot desk booking system. As such, transitioning to a hybrid working model should be easier for these companies, as they have already created the digital flexibility to do so.

The office – not just a working space?

As the pandemic continues, the office has taken on a new identity. As employees work from home, their living quarters become one with their work environment. The boundary between work and living has blurred. In isolation, many people have a different way of seeing a physical office space – it is not purely for work anymore. The office is also a space for learning, for socialising, for collaboration, and where employees can experience and become part of the corporate culture.

No matter what, there is still a need for office space. The need to frequent the office varies depends on the maturity of the company, whether it has established Standard Operating Procedures, how stable and experienced its workforce is, and so on. For companies trying to scale quickly or those hiring staff who are new to an industry, there will be limitations to full remote working. For example, trying to remotely onboard someone who is relatively inexperienced can be very challenging. Whilst they may learn how to perform their role, they will not have the opportunity to build deep relationships or to be fully immersed in the corporate culture.  A hybrid working model may therefore work better for these companies.

Trends for talent development

In the years ahead, the younger generation will make up the bulk of the workforce. According to a global HR survey conducted by Mazars, Gen Z deeply value learning and development. Although compensation package is still key, having a training program that connects back to the organisation and their growth is equally important. As a professional services firm, Mazars provides a structured career pathway for its employees. Mazarians also have the freedom to take different online courses via LinkedIn Learning and a global in-house platform. Training does not have to be limited to physical classrooms.

Conclusion

There will be challenges as companies gradually transit into a hybrid model. Everyone has their own preferences when working remotely: some people might prefer to work early in the morning and some late in the evening. Ultimately, to reduce or eliminate misunderstandings, it is recommended to set core working hours where everyone is expected to be contactable. Having respect and being aware of each other’s schedules is also key to promoting and maintaining healthy working relationships. It also helps to have an open-door policy, even if its virtual, to foster a respectful atmosphere.

Do you have any questions for us regarding HR and Payroll?