By Hanine El Massri, Account Manager at Atteline and PRCA NextGen Arabia Group committee member
As the Coronavirus pandemic and the way of life surrounding it change yet again, many companies begin returning to in-office work after a year and a half of remote operations. However, will switching back to normal office hours ever be the same again? According to a 2020 study from Growmotely, a company that matches organizations with remote workers, 97% of employees prefer not to return to the office full-time. However, 68% of organizations are yet to construct a detailed plan for a hybrid work model, according to a study by McKinsey.
Here at Atteline, we work from the office Sundays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, and remotely on Mondays and Tuesdays. This fixed hybrid scheme allows our team to plan their working schedule to what suits their needs whilst still meeting their required deadlines. Some might argue against such a scheme, flagging concerns around loyalty and engagement; however, as a medium-sized boutique agency, we know firsthand that this working model demands trust and discipline, and if executed well, can lead to a happier, healthier workforce. Here’s how.
Trust at the heart of hybrid working
Trust has always been a building block in the workplace, but in today’s new reality, it’s a game-changer. A recent report by Capgemini Research Institute, The Future of Work, revealed that 38% of managers are skeptical of remote workers, and nearly half of all employees (48%) feel micromanaged. So, how do you tackle this dilemma? In a virtual environment, giving employees the chance to step up, take ownership of their ideas, and make their own decisions within a well-defined scope not only develops trust but also forges solid accountability within the team members. At Atteline, team trust and positive assumptions are guiding principles. And while we don’t see each other on a daily basis, we keep our assumptions positive, trusting that everyone is doing their best and making responsible decisions. If we don’t understand an intention, communication is key so we might ask a question such as, “Can you help me understand what you are doing, and do you need any assistance?” Doing this sometimes takes a little courage, but the cultural benefits of it are huge.
You can no longer be a tech dinosaur
The pandemic sparked exponential changes in remote work and demonstrated how productive it can be. Now, as some companies choose to move away from remote work toward hybrid models, coming face to face with technology is a reality we have to address. Video communication software has emerged and cemented its crucial importance as the foundation for any engagement and communication in a mixed remote and on-site working environment. In a time where personal interaction wasn’t that much of an option, the use of virtual communication tools helped create fewer misunderstandings among individuals and facilitated smoother dialogue about how teams can work together, thus strengthening relationships and improving communication.
Inclusivity at the core of company culture
The company culture is the foundation of any business that talks about the values of the workplace. Whilst businesses adopt the hybrid approach, the personal touch is reduced, causing challenges in building this company culture. However, through proper mentoring, coaching, and supporting employees in geographically diverse locations, this hybrid work culture is built and strengthened. By keeping various channels of communication open to all employees, regardless of who prefers to work from home and who loves the office environment, all team members are able to voice their concerns, provide feedback, and not feel left out. At Atteline, we have a remote team supporting the agency while based in the Philippines. Back in 2020, when the pandemic hit and many individuals had to fly back home, management had to make holistic decisions with inclusivity in mind, providing opportunities to talented individuals regardless of their geographical location. And with continuous weekly catch-ups and check-in meetings, inclusivity is facilitated and a positive workplace is built enabling personal growth and prioritization of quality work.
The Coronavirus pandemic made working from home a necessity overnight, whether we preferred working that way or not. While the hybrid work model isn't new, it's massively growing in popularity among businesses and employees alike. Businesses from multiple industries around the world have already adapted fully remote or hybrid models. So, it seems remote work is indeed the future of the workplace.