1. Communication can be hard
Technology has been the ace on our sleeve since March 2020, when we had to switch to a fully remote environment. However, it comes with some issues. The internet connection is not always reliable, set aside the video conferencing systems. It was a challenge even for the remote work environment.
Along the way, we found ways to tackle this problem in the remote environment, but what happens now in the hybrid model?
Some employees are at the office, while others are working from home, so how is it possible to host online meetings and virtual conferences that could fit everyone? Will employees at the office log in from one computer, or should they join from different devices? And what about impromptu meetings? In-office employees could simply stop by each other’s desk and have a quick sync. But their at-home colleagues could be unavailable at that moment.
2. Coordination can be imbalanced
Similarly to the communication issues, coordination can be daunting when dealing with a hybrid work environment. When it comes to collaborative tasks, sync is key. Now, working in hybrid teams causes more challenges in coordination than working face to face. Let’s get this straight with an example.
Lucas from the marketing team is working from home, but Stacey and Iris from the same team have decided to return to the office. They have an important meeting with the sales team coming up. They have completed their brainstorming, conducted their meetings, streamlined the processes, and whatever needed to be done. Now, Lucas is waiting at home for the upcoming meeting, getting ready on his own. Stacey and Iris, however, had a chat in the break room and discovered that they should mention a few more points. There’s no time to inform Lucas, so the result is that he got left out of the teamwork. Even a minor change can make employees feel like outsiders.
3. Proximity bias can cause significant issues
While the hybrid workplace can solve the problem of retaining employees, there’s a new challenge that needs to be addressed: proximity bias.
Proximity bias is the concept that the workforce with close physical proximity to other team members and company leaders will be considered more competent and will become more successful in the workplace than their remote coworkers.
For instance, Dolores from the client success team works from home while her coworker Tyler prefers to work at the office. Dolores thinks that Tyler is closer to their managers because of his physical presence, so she feels that it’s more likely that he will be promoted faster than her, even though she is a high-performing employee. Thus, she feels overwhelmed, and is willing to work longer hours to be perceived as hard-working.
This can cause a less inclusive workplace as both remote and hybrid employees feel like their efforts are not being fully acknowledged simply because they are less visible. Employees must have access to the same opportunities to flourish and grow. This is why proximity bias needs to be taken into consideration—and tackled—when planning a hybrid work environment for your company.
4. Creativity can be limited
Creativity was a main remote work challenge as well. This can be an issue in the hybrid workplace, too.
It’s true that creativity levels rise when there are in-person encounters. For instance, social interactions, spontaneous conversations, seeing artwork or a nicely designed workspace, the commute to and from work, can all be essential creativity triggers. Staying at home every day, in the same space, without any external influences can drop creativity levels.
How can experience-based team building help?
As hybrid work environments become the new norm, organizations are grappling with the impact on corporate culture. While remote work offers flexibility and autonomy, it also poses challenges such as feelings of isolation and lack of team cohesion. Studies have shown that employees who work in hybrid environments report feeling less connected to their colleagues and company culture.
To combat this, organizations are turning to in-person team building activities to foster a sense of community and build stronger relationships among team members. In-person team building activities provide a unique opportunity for employees to connect on a personal level, develop trust, and enhance communication skills. These activities can range from outdoor adventures to group volunteer projects to team dinners.
Investing in in-person team building not only helps to strengthen corporate culture but also has a positive impact on employee morale and productivity. By creating a sense of belonging and purpose, employees are more likely to be engaged and committed to the organization’s goals.
In conclusion, while hybrid work environments offer many benefits, it’s important to address the potential challenges to corporate culture. In-person team building activities can go a long way in fostering a sense of community and building stronger relationships among team members, ultimately leading to a more engaged and productive workforce.