15 Hybrid and Remote Work Trends You Cannot Afford to Ignore
Remote work was once a radical idea, an enviable privilege for a fortunate few.
However, as a result of Covid, solutions for expanding the remote workforce became a necessity for many businesses.
Now that so many office employees have had a taste of remote work, many are resistant to returning to their daily commute.
But for companies who miss the old days, this presents a difficult decision. Hardliners who believed they could simply pull the plug on remote work and demand employees return to the office have found just how fierce the resistance is. This is partially responsible for The Great Resignation.
In this article, we will discuss the lasting impacts and trends resulting from a few months when remote work became the norm. Some hybrid work trends may never truly go away, even for those excited to be back at the office with their coworkers.
💻 Hybrid and remote work: then and now
Starting March 15th, 2020, the New York City public school system (the largest in the United States) shut down to protect its students from the spread of Covid.
Similar measures started popping up in other states, aiming to "flatten the curve" and reduce the exponential spread of the virus. These measures affected not only people's personal lives, as they were encouraged (or sometimes forced) to stay at home and refrain from public gatherings like eating out, but also their professional lives, as many businesses ceased in-person operations.
The result was a scramble to institute remote work (rather than no work) wherever possible.
As many employees started getting a taste of the perks of working in a remote or hybrid capacity, years later, many are still not willing to give up.
In fact, remote work statistics have shown that as many as 97% of office workers would prefer to retain some level of remote work flexibility in their careers. And while there are many advantages to remote work, it also presents some challenges, especially for HR professionals.
➡️ Explore simple solutions for hybrid workplace challenges using "work nudges."
At the end of the day, whether or not management likes it, offering remote or hybrid options may be necessary to keep employees happy and retain top talent.
The challenge is balancing whether to go fully remote, hybrid, or return to the way things were.
Offering options may be necessary to retain some employees, but there are also cost-saving benefits to a fully remote workforce (no office space needed).
📈 15 Hybrid and remote work trends
Despite disconnects between employees and employers, shifting to a more flexible work arrangement can be a positive thing.
The current state of technology and a race to develop more convenient solutions for remote workers has been a huge boon to many employees and companies. Not only that, but it has changed the landscape of industries that rely on knowledge workers capable of working remotely.
Let's look at some trends resulting from the shift to remote and hybrid work and how companies can adapt to benefit from them.
👨💼🧑🏽💼 Keeping the team together in the metaverse
Remote work is still work.
While it can be drastically different than spending eight hours a day in the office, you don't want it to devolve into a chaotic mess.
Many employees will enjoy extra freedom for their work-life balance, but too much flexibility can hurt performance.
For example, some companies can afford entirely self-determined hybrid work schedules, while others need set or core hours.
Luckily, technology was not far behind the pandemic when it came to the workplace.
There are software solutions available, whether you are conducting live video meetings, sharing documents, or just chatting with coworkers.
Remote work doesn't appear to be going away, either. Tech companies recognize this and are already working on the next evolution in remote employee engagement: the metaverse.
Though not physically together under the same roof, it is vital to retain a sense of togetherness, so hybrid teams continue to communicate and thrive as a unit.
Tip: If you feel employees drifting or becoming less engaged at work, schedule meetups or video calls to reconnect.
😃 Giving people what they want: Flexibility
From a company standpoint, it can be tempting to write off remote work as an exception during a strange time. But the truth is, now that hybrid workers have had a taste, they may not be willing to give it up.
For those who relished the freedom and comfort of working from home, they will resist returning to their daily commute.
Maybe not right away, but if you don't offer a remote or hybrid option, some employees are going to find an opportunity that does.
Working from home can be a benefit, just like a 401k or PTO.
If you want to offer a competitive benefits package in the post-Covid world, remote work is now a part of that.
🕸️ Casting a wide talent net
While many companies yearn to return to the way things were (don't we all), there is a bright side to remote work. It isn't just a necessity for employee retention.
It can also be a tool for attracting new talent!
Remote work is a two-way street. Employees don't need to come to you; you can go to them!
Your talent pool is no longer limited to a comfortable commuting distance or those willing to relocate there. Anyone with a computer and an internet connection is a candidate!
Employing worldwide talent can be a challenging shift for people operations, but the payoff is worth it.
The benefit is a much higher potential for finding qualified and diverse talent to power your company.
You just need to learn how to find them!
🕛 Give an inch, consider a mile: more flexible working hours
You have to make concessions with a remote work option to retain and attract talent. But don't think that is necessarily good enough. Times are a-changin', and it is crucial to keep an open mind.
There is a wide range of ways for people to work remotely.
For example, a remote desk job that is 9-5 precisely as if it were still taking place in the office is less attractive than a flexible "choose your own hours" type of schedule.
Some companies are doubling down on the flexibility of remote work, offering more freedom in employee schedules or reduced hours.
This alternative perk is more valuable to many knowledge workers than smaller financial gains.
🤫 Quiet quitting and quitting quitting
With so many companies shifting to remote work, many new opportunities are flooding the market for valuable assets.
This competitive hiring environment has led many employees to make a change in the search for greener pastures.
The influx of new opportunities has done a few things:
- Talent is being hunted more aggressively.
- Employees are exploring new opportunities.
- Wage gaps have been stretched.
These factors have strengthened the hand of many employees, wearing away the loyalty they may have possessed pre-Covid.
The effect is higher turnover as knowledge workers leave their job to pursue new remote opportunities that offer better pay, expanded benefits, or something new.
Employees may also be less ambitious in their current role if they have other options lining up.
🔀 Flipping the switch: remarkable virtual experiences for new hires
If you're still with us, that means you're willing to embrace remote work.
Great! That's the smart move.
But, unfortunately, it's not as easy as saying, "yes, I'll do it."
Embracing a hybrid workforce means learning how to manage people virtually.
For existing employees, this might not be so bad (you may have had to do it during the shutdown already).
But for new employees, you need an effective process for onboarding new hires.
If you don't have a solid virtual onboarding experience prepared, that awesome new talent you landed from halfway around the world might ghost you before the end of their first week.
Studies have shown very high turnover rates for newly remote companies ill-prepared for virtual onboarding.
💡 Don't make that same mistake! Instead, create a positive first impression with a structured and inspiring virtual onboarding process.
⌚ Asyncing your watches
It doesn't get any better than flexible work hours for hybrid employees. They can work where they want and when they want. But unfortunately, this can present some challenges for the company and managers.
Not having everyone working simultaneously can result in communication delays and make scheduling virtual meetings a challenge.
💡 A common compromise is core hours, where employees must be present at designated times for meetings and other collaborative work, but the rest of their schedule is up to them.
Finding solutions for asynchronous work without disrupting team activities can be challenging.
However, many have found that the benefits of open schedules outweigh the drawbacks of proper planning.
👥 A two-way conversation
While keeping remote employees in line is essential, the reverse side of that coin is ensuring the company communicates effectively with its remote workforce.
Poor communication and guidance from management in a remote work environment can leave employees feeling lost and adrift in their roles.
The need for effective communication goes from immediate managers all the way up to C-level executives making major decisions for the company.
Employees need to be kept in the loop to feel engaged and valued.
The last thing you want is for employees to find something out from their peers or press leaks rather than from their business leaders. This is especially true for changes and policies that directly affect company employees.
➡️ Check out our article on change leadership. We gathered everything you need to know to lead through change effectively.
👮 Cybersecurity crackdown
Obviously, in a remote work environment, everything is going to be digital. That means sensitive company information, personal employee information, and the interconnected network of devices are all theoretically exposed to the risk of being hacked.
One hacked internal email or phished password can cause immeasurable damage to a company or employee. So don't let it happen to you.
Train new and existing employees on safe practices to keep themselves and the company safe from phishing and other hacking methods.
Plus, invest in sufficient cybersecurity measures to ensure company information and personal employee information are protected.
Protect your online activities with a VPN, utilize a trustworthy password manager, and consider employing additional security tools such as multi-factor authentication (MFA) and intrusion detection systems (IDS) to bolster the cybersecurity of your remote workforce.
➡️ Zavvy offers Data Protection & Privacy training to teach companies and their employees about common cybersecurity threats and how to avoid them.
🏠 Working at home or living at work
Working from home can be a very different employee experience for some. Especially for those who haven't worked remotely before, culture shock is a real possibility.
One of the biggest offenders isn't what you think.
You may worry about decreased productivity from employees becoming distracted at home, but what about the opposite problem?
Some employees will struggle to disconnect when the "office" is always one room away, or even worse when the office, the bedroom, and the kitchen are all a single space.
A lack of work-private life separation can hurt your workforce's mental health and work-life balance.
Keep an eye out for this behavior by monitoring activity and work hours and enforcing time off according to agreed-upon schedules.
Employee wellness is a critical metric for understanding employees. A simple way to gauge this is with remote work surveys.
💡 Measure your employees' psychological well-being with Zavvy's "Index of Psychological Well-being at Work," a ready-to-use survey template.
🆕 New challenges and new managers
Along with the new challenges emerging from a remote or hybrid workplace, assigning new roles to manage those challenges can be highly beneficial.
Chief Purpose Officers and Chief People & Belonging Officers are examples of new strategic roles in remote businesses.
These roles aim to keep the company's personality and practices focused on improving employee experience, job satisfaction, and brand presence.
In other words, CPOs maintain a healthy company culture as part of people operations and public relations.
Filling these roles may sound extreme for SMEs, but don't worry. CPOs need not be new hires.
Existing employees in HR or elsewhere can take on these duties. Smaller companies will require a smaller portion of time to ensure that the brand's people and purpose are being considered.
➡️ Use 360 feedback questions for leadership to determine which employees are well-suited for these new roles.
🤖 Embracing AI and automation
Naturally, the shift towards remote work means embracing technology.
But embracing technology doesn't stop at email and Zoom calls. The momentum can help businesses evolve their processes with cutting-edge software.
Artificial intelligence is advancing with leaps and bounds, popping up in all sorts of business technology.
Whether that be AI chatbots, AI content writing, or virtual assistants, automation saves companies countless hours so employees can focus their effort on more meaningful tasks.
If you truly embrace the freedom and flexibility of remote work technology, consider how your company can further benefit from new productivity tools to increase employee efficiency and reduce operating expenses.
➡️ For example, Zavvy helps run engaging training courses on autopilot.
👀 You can discover real-life use cases of our micro-courses from these case studies on Avi Medical and Freeletics. Both used a combination of microlearning and roundtables to achieve organization-wide results.
⚙️ Not only that, but Zavvy's automation tools took care of the busy work so management could focus on managing.
👨👩👧👦 The importance of people
As computers and other technology take over more and more business duties, it frees management to focus on what matters most: the people.
Remote and hybrid work highlight the need to connect with coworkers.
Building a positive culture that gives employees a sense of belonging and makes them feel valued can have immeasurable effects on morale and talent retention.
Those in leadership roles can become workforce multipliers by motivating and empowering others to meet their full potential. Plus, by maintaining human relationships and mentorships, even a fully remote company can feel intimate and win employee loyalty.
💡 Discover our five-step guide and best practices to plan your next hybrid mentorship program.
🎯 Eliminating ambiguity
A transition to remote work can be a whirlwind. But managing the confusion and chaos is vital to reaping the benefits of a new hybrid work model.
For this to be possible, you can no longer avoid creating a clear and cohesive hybrid work policy. You need everyone to be on the same page.
Surely there will be growing pains, but management's job is to minimize friction wherever possible.
Unclear policies will lead some remote employees to take advantage of the situation, others to burn themselves out by overworking, and some to flounder as they try to find their footing in the new work environment.
Tip: Try to address policies about hours, schedules, and employee expectations as thoroughly as possible in a regularly updated and easily accessible place, so everyone is on the same page.
🧑🤝🧑 Staying connected with coworkers
Not seeing your coworkers every day can be a big change.
Finding ways to replace those personal connections can be important for maintaining friendships and a sense of loyalty and unity.
Activities as simple as virtual meetups or informal video calls can do wonders for maintaining those strong relationships and making the company a fun place to work.
Consider adding a company chat room specifically for non-work conversations where coworkers can talk about their personal lives or share a laugh. All work and no play can make remote work feel dull and lonely.
Team Zavvy created a "Pet Owners" Slack channel. Nothing better than starting your day with some cat pictures.
Tip: Facilitating connections and cohesion is a method to improving employee performance.
➡️ Intriguing? Check out the reasons behind this recommendation and sixteen different methods for improving employee performance.
➡️ And while we are on the subject of building social connections at work, check out our ready-to-use connection program, "Conversations That Matter."
➡️ Stay ahead of work trends with Zavvy
Fortunately, Zavvy was hard at work developing technological and conceptual solutions for remote work and other workplace advancements before the COVID-19 pandemic started forcing companies' hands.
We are proud to be in a position to help both employees and employers face these new challenges head-on and hopefully emerge better from them.
Here are just a few of the solutions and tools we offer to help your workforce (whether remote, hybrid, or back in the office) achieve their full potential:
🚀 Onboarding workflows that take newcomers by the hand and lead them to full integration and productivity.
🌱 People development frameworks that create role clarity and guide people along their development path.
🔄 Feedback systems that can be customized as desired and lead to a culture of growth and learning.
☕️ Coffee roulettes and connection programs to connect colleagues remotely.
💪 Training programs that deliver content step by step instead of overwhelming learners.
We also offer our cutting-edge 360-degree feedback software, which ensures everyone's voice is heard while propelling employees forward in their professional growth and company value.
To learn more about this software or any of the other solutions from Zavvy, schedule a demo today!