Sumana Iyengar, CEO & Co-Founder, Goavega Software India Pvt Ltd

Sumana is an experienced IT professional, having spent over 23 years in the industry. This includes global experience across the domain, which includes Delivery management, Risk management, operations management to strategic planning and consulting. She has successfully executed several business plans and has a strong business acumen for handling channel management activities. Prior to starting Goavega, she worked in several large MNC’s and product companies. Some of her past stints include Symphony Services Corp India Pvt Ltd, where she served as a director for 6 years. Additionally she was at AIG (American International Group), Singapore as Assistant Manager from Jun’01 – Apr’04.

 

The pandemic brought a host of challenges for organizations worldwide and remote working was unarguably one of the most unique ones, simply because most industries weren’t acquainted with its practical implications. But as lockdowns and quarantine rules continued for extended periods, the advantages and disadvantages of remote work models became more obvious. So as the world bounces back to normalcy, a new ‘hybrid’ work model has emerged; a model that synergizes the best of both worlds – ‘work from office’ and ‘work from home’.

Technology has played a pivotal role in accelerating the adoption of hybrid models. Tech-enabled tools facilitate seamless communication and monitoring of remote employees. Though remote work culture slowly gained popularity, there is certainly no doubt about the benefits of being physically present in the office for collaboration and one-to-one interaction. Brainstorming sessions, interpreting client briefs, and ideation sessions are best done in office rather than remotely. Office presence is especially critical for freshers and junior employees to familiarize themselves with the work culture, acquire skills and develop a sense of belonging. Companies therefore have adopted a hybrid approach where employees can work 3 days a week from the office and 2 days remotely.

According to a recent survey, around 66% of companies would consider redesigning their office space to accommodate a hybrid work model. Going forward, hybrid work models will be the new normal in most organizations and the below mentioned reasons explain why.

  1. Enhanced collaboration

A hybrid work model needs employees to work from the office twice or thrice a week. Different organizations or even different departments within the organization can decide what works best for them. In terms of project execution, creative strategy and innovation require greater face time as various members of the team can function better with in person brain storming sessions and discussion. Hybrid work practices allows one to optimise team collaboration efforts and the ‘in-office’ hours are better planned and used optimally, ensuring higher productivity.

  1. Agile human resource management

Hybrid work models facilitate easier employee engagement as selective work from office days allows new recruits to absorb the work culture and align themselves better with the corporate philosophy and overall work policies. It also allows employees the opportunity to learn from mentors and spend quality face time with senior leadership teams, so as to be better aligned with the over vision of the team and gain a clearer understanding of their own role and what is expected out of them. This, in turn, allows for better and faster integration with the company, and helps employees to find a place for themselves in the larger scheme of things.

For the HR department, Hybrid work practices allows better resource planning for efficient project management and execution depending on specific job roles and responsibilities. Generally senior employees in supervisory and mentoring role can have larger number of remote work days compared to members of the operations and execution team who need to spend more time in office for team collaborations and completion of tasks on deadlines. This way, it is easier to customise and plan in-office and remote working shifts for employees to ensure highest productivity and optimisation of office hours.

  1. Optimization of resources, system and processes

Hybrid work models can reduce the operational costs of organizations to a great extent as there is less need to spend on amenities on premises. At the same time, hybrid models necessitate investment in technological upgradation. Much of the hybrid work model’s success can be attributed to the technological advancements that have made communication and collaboration a breeze. There are several tech tools that help keep everyone in loop, promote organization-wide transparency and build healthy team dynamics. Organizations are moving beyond basic tech tools to implement more sophisticated virtual project management tools that ensure a secure digital ecosystem even when employees are not in the office premises. With cutting edge technology, there is clearly a better opportunity to optimize resources, systems and processes in a hybrid model than otherwise.

  1. Safer work environments

In a hybrid work model, offices don’t function in full capacity. Teams are split between home and office which means the hybrid work environment is safer in view of the current pandemic situation. Though mass vaccination drives have provided respite from the rising COVID cases, returning to the daily ‘work from office’ culture is still worrisome especially for young parents and older employees. Organizations with a hybrid work model are safer as employees can save themselves from the hassles of daily commute and reduce the risk of getting exposed to a large number of people. In fact, employees are now averse to joining organizations that follow a mandatory ‘work from office’ approach. Further, with a hybrid approach, companies don’t need to fret too much about implementing social distancing norms in the workplace, as there would be no overcrowding, making compliance with COVID-19 protocols easier.

Winding up

Though the remote work model was a forced response to an emergency situation, the hybrid model is a conscious decision implemented by organizations today after closely examining the pros and cons. While organizations and employees were once unaware of the implications of a hybrid work practices, the pandemic presented an excellent opportunity to experiment. Based on the above listed benefits, it is safe to say that “Hybrid” is the new work culture normal that provides a win win situation for all stakeholders, keeping in mind the current situation. However, whether will it will evolve as a new normal for good or is just a transient phase, remains to be seen.

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