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Striking The Perfect Balance For Productivity With Hybrid Model

"Familial ties play a critical role in India, hence flexibility offered by the hybrid model becomes significant. With a diverse and rich culture, it provides an equilibrium to Indians to balance professional and personal lives," says Vinod Varghese, HR Director, Alstom India

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Discussions on the future of work had begun making their way into management circles almost a decade ago. It was only in the wake of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the world witnessed an unprecedented and accelerated shift in work dynamics, with work from home becoming the norm. With the World Health Organization (WHO) declaring an end to COVID-19 as a public health emergency, businesses and everyday life is slowly returning to pre-pandemic activity. Nevertheless, one thing is clear – remote working is here to stay. Survey data collected by The Conference Board from across the globe revealed that majority of employers have no intention of reducing remote working possibilities. Hybrid work is the natural next step in this shift in work models. Hybrid work is a flexible work model that allows employees to split their time between working remotely and in the office. It is a people-first approach, that prioritises boosting productivity and job satisfaction while dealing with challenges like loneliness and missing a sense of community that come with remote work.

Flexibility improving work-life balance & unlocking productivity

One of the main benefits of hybrid working model is the flexibility it provides. This promotes a better work-life balance enhancing employee well-being and mental health. An IWG study, conducted among more than 2,000 hybrid workers, highlighted the dramatic health improvements that have emerged from the hybrid working model. An impressive 66 per cent of hybrid workers reported that their mental health has improved because of the shift to hybrid working. Moreover, it increases productivity with many employees reporting fewer distractions and a more conducive work environment when operating remotely. For employers, it enables them to tap into a broader talent pool, as geographical constraints are minimised and accommodates diverse needs, such as those of individuals with disabilities or caregiving responsibilities. Women who have taken a career break are also able to return to work by taking advantage of the hybrid work model. Both employers and employees benefit financially from hybrid and remote work models. According to a survey by Global Workplace Analytics, businesses can save an average of $10,000 per year for each remote employee who works half of the time from home.

Digitalisation is the pivot for hybrid work model

The integration of digital technologies has been a cornerstone of successful hybrid work implementation. A study by McKinsey estimates that the pandemic accelerated companies’ adoption of digital or digitally enabled products by seven years. The shift towards remote work has prompted companies to invest in digital technologies that facilitate seamless communication and collaboration among distributed teams. Cloud-based tools, project management platforms, and video conferencing applications have become integral to the functioning of hybrid teams. Organisations have strived to ensure connectivity for all employees. Investments have been made in building robust infrastructure and offering training on digital tools to employees.

Some challenges that come with the hybrid work model 

While hybrid work model may present with a lot of benefits, it also comes with its own downside. The success of work from home arrangements hinges on the establishment of trust between employers and employees. With physical supervision diminished, trust becomes the foundation of effective remote work. While hybrid work offers numerous advantages, instances of misuse have been reported. Abuse of flexible work arrangements, engaging in personal activities during work hours, lack of self-discipline and communication gap can become challenges in a hybrid structure. This can hamper the balance that lies in this model. With reduced workload for remote workers and increased stress or burnout for those working from office can lead to divide between employees. Balancing autonomy with accountability is crucial to addressing these challenges. It is crucial for employees to create a professional work environment at home while keeping in mind HSE guidelines. This ensures that working from home remains safe and conducive to productivity.

Hybrid work & its impact on India

Hybrid work is a relatively new concept, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Despite the rise of hybrid work, certain jobs still require a physical presence. Roles that involve hands-on tasks, customer-facing, or the use of specialised equipment may require employees to be on-site. In a country as diverse as India, the socio-cultural impact of hybrid work is quite significant. With evolving socio-economic conditions over the past few years, India Inc has witnessed a considerable shift in how work culture is defined. Familial ties play a critical role in India and hence flexibility offered by the hybrid work model becomes significant. With a diverse and rich culture, hybrid work provides an equilibrium to Indian employees to balance their professional and personal lives.

Employee engagement is key to a successful transition.

As organisations contemplate the return to the office, employee engagement takes centre stage. Employers must provide compelling reasons for employees to return, beyond the traditional office routine. Creating a vibrant workplace culture, offering collaborative spaces, and organising team-building activities are crucial to rekindling the sense of community that physical offices provide. Furthermore, all of us recognise the significance of professional networks and mentorship in career growth. As a result, it becomes even more crucial for newcomers to be present in the office to foster social connections and ramp up their work progress as smoothly as possible. Therefore, although a hybrid model offers the flexibility to work from home, it is advisable to make the most of early days at work by being present in the office.

#WorkHappyWorkHybrid

Hybrid work has become a buzzword in corporate circles, and its implications are widespread. #WorkHappyWorkHybrid can be achieved only by striking the right balance between remote and in-person work. This equilibrium is essential for organisations to ensure optimal performance and efficiency. Hybrid work represents a paradigm shift in the way we approach work, offering unprecedented flexibility and efficiency. The integration of digital technologies and ensuring connectivity for all is of utmost importance. Considerations for jobs that require physical presence is also critical for the success of this model. The emphasis on thoughtful employee engagement becomes instrumental as organisations start to embrace hybrid work culture. In a country like India, where socio-cultural dynamics play a pivotal role, the impact of hybrid work is nuanced but promising.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house



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