3 tips for an inclusive hybrid workplace

The shift to hybrid work takes planning, but creates some positive changes. Consider these tips to foster a healthy hybrid work environment
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The world of work has shifted. While some organizations have opted for their employees to return onsite, many others have switched to a hybrid work model that combines both in-office and remote workers.

As organizations continue to refine what their hybrid work model should look like, it is important to consider some practices that have strengthened employee productivity and satisfaction. Here are three examples.

[ Want advice on leading hybrid work? Read What is a hybrid work model? and Hybrid work model: 5 advantages. ]

1. Communication is key: Is everyone being heard?

Strong communication is essential to the success of any workplace model. Ensure that you have a well-developed internal communication strategy that provides consistent resources for employees to find the information they need.

Remember that employees who are working remotely may be more likely to feel isolated, which can be challenging and even demoralizing for some. Schedule regular meetings to ensure that all team members are aligned on priorities and responsibilities as well as to promote interaction and foster team spirit.

It’s also important to ensure that remote and new team members are heard during meetings. These individuals can easily be overshadowed by colleagues with more dominant personalities or those who are physically present in the workplace. Remember that diverse perspectives and talents add value, and a healthy workplace requires that all team members feel respected.

2. Re-examine necessary tools and equipment support

Pre-COVID, most employees worked from defined locations where all the necessary equipment was on site. With the onset of the pandemic, work quickly shifted to laptops. In countries with electricity challenges, some organizations even equipped employees with portable inverters and batteries. Business leaders should also be mindful of their employees with special needs or physical challenges and provide them with any equipment, applications, and/or modifications they need to do their jobs either remotely or from the office.

Using portable company devices and home network management systems can create security risks. Make sure your employees fully understand these risks, including their implications on technology such as family printers and Internet of Things (IoT) devices. Whether your employees are on-site or remote, implement information security controls such as acceptable use policies, multifactor authentication, and encryption on all devices that access company information. Provide ongoing security training and educational initiatives to ensure that all employees understand the constantly changing risks associated with using information technology and that they employ security best practices.

3. Embrace flexible hours

Flexibility is a key element of today’s workplace model. Many organizations have experimented over the course of the pandemic to find a balance that fits their internal and business culture. Even if many of your employees are returning to the office, consider offering flexible hours to accommodate parenting, caregiving, and other responsibilities.

Flexible work hours can also provide employees with special needs – including those who identify as neurodiverse – the opportunity to adjust their hours to when they are most productive or to take breaks to regain focus when needed, whether they are working from the office or from home.

Another option:  Let employees to go to the office for a few hours as needed and spend the rest of the workday at home. This offers employees a change of environment, use of office resources, and the possibility to adjust work-life balance.

Today’s work world requires organizations to balance meeting business objectives with supporting their employees’ needs. Those that offer a flexible, supportive, and communicative work model that strives to accommodate their employees’ diverse needs will be more resilient to disruption and retain more employees. This in turn will enhance any organization’s business prospects.

[ Get exercises and approaches that make disparate teams stronger. Read the digital transformation ebook: Transformation Takes Practice. ]

Esanju Maseka
Esanju Maseka is a Certified Information Systems Auditor with over four years of experience providing IT risk assurance services in the Zambian market. She currently serves on the ISACA Emerging Trends Working Group and is a member of the Zambia ISACA chapter.

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