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How HR Leaders Are Redefining the Hybrid Work Environment

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When your job is to lower risk for your organization and keep your organization's people safe, it can put you at odds with short-term revenue goals, employees' individual interests, and tight business deadlines. While adapting to the roller coaster of the past two years has helped you keep your organization on its feet, a constant atmosphere of putting out fires and coming up with workarounds is dangerous.

When thinking of the future of work and adjusting to new standards, it’s difficult for HR leaders to balance employee privacy, high employee turnover, and increasingly amplified polarization regarding health safety measures. 

Variant COVID-19 waves, fluctuating work norms, and continual changes in state- and federal-level compliance obligations have left HR professionals burnt out across every industry. But here’s the good news — those same things also give HR professionals more power than ever to redefine the future of work.

See how taking an active, decisive role in defining the hybrid work environment in your company can make all the difference.

HR Leaders Have the Power and Responsibility

When you check the cover of Forbes and Fortune, there's almost always a feature piece about a CEO or sales. But in the midst of COVID-19 and the Great Resignation, it's HR departments that are really holding the business world together. Non-compliance can sink a company. Staying in tune with new employee satisfaction drivers is hard and high turnover destabilizes any revenue funnel, no matter how big or strong it used to be. Without a well-running HR department, companies wouldn't be able to pivot to meet the new challenges of remote work, higher employee standards, virus variants, and other challenges.

Slowly, company org charts and job structuring is starting to reflect this importance. Since 2020, there's been a greater emphasis on people science, expanding HR departments into more progressive roles and responsibilities, and overall change. But you can make that transformation happen faster for your organization by taking the reins on what your specific future of work looks like.

Create structures that fit your standards and your inside knowledge of shifting compliance norms, and put those processes into official policies and documentation. You can also focus on employee engagement along the way, satisfying core concerns of:

  • Compliance
  • Organization
  • Standardization
  • Reducing turnover

Start by seeing the general picture of the hybrid work environment and then imagining how that looks for your specific organization.

What Does the Future of Work Look Like?

The future of work is trending in the digital direction. But not all work can go fully remote and off-site. Manufacturing, for example, will always be restricted to where the equipment is. Client-facing work may require travel for in-person meetings and events. Even standard office work that requires a lot of independent effort sometimes demands an in-office presence. So, while digital workflows are at the core of any present and future workplace, the real picture will be more complex. Consider these three core requirements of hybrid work environments:

1. Flexibility

Ultimately, organizations need to offer the resources, infrastructure, and freedom so employees can do work wherever is most productive. That could include at a home office, in an airport, or in a traditional office location. The most productive environment can vary from day to day, so employees must be free to make different choices each day. To enable this, your organization needs to provide:

  • Technology
  • Policies that guide what types of flexibility are available for different roles
  • Policies regarding how to request remote work options

2. Health and Wellness

While COVID-19 isn't the exclusive cause behind transforming workplace norms, it's certainly a top contender. As a result, you and your leadership team must create a work environment that meets (or exceeds) these obligations:

  • Valuing employee mental health and wellness: This can take the form of frequent sentiment checks, more flexible attendance policies, and better wellness benefits.
  • Providing peace of mind: Employees need to be able to choose where they work, especially if they have ongoing concerns related to COVID-19, variant waves, and vulnerable people in their lives.
  • Prioritizing health: COVID-19 monitoring, real-time insights into variant waves, and fast responses to changes in the status quo keep your employees and your customers safer. Prioritizing employee health and making employees feel safer boosts productivity and reduce turnover.

3. Culture of Engagement

While the above two points factor into overall employee engagement, you need to focus explicitly on the issue. When employees aren't engaged because of burnout, disconnect, or feeling undervalued, they're less productive and are more likely to leave. That's bad for the business, but it's also bad for everyone within the organization. Course correct by getting a baseline on employee sentiment through surveys and wellness checks. Then meaningfully address pain points and increase the opportunities for collaboration and connection.

How Can You Get There?

Those three core tenets are valuable, but they're also very broad. Turning those pursuits into more actionable objectives and tasks is the best way to move forward. At ReturnSafe, we've created a digital future of work platform that's designed to help you organize your response to modern challenges, make measurable improvements in morale and workplace norms, and successfully create a hybrid work environment. Our platform offers:

1. Flexible Hybrid Work Management

This platform is designed to help HR leaders proactively monitor and modify hybrid work environments, with tools to:

  • Schedule managing and sharing tracks
  • Define and clarify different working options, including on-site, remote, and hybrid work arrangements
  • Monitoring and tracking employee needs
  • Track success metrics

2. Workplace Health and Safety

Our ReturnSafe platform also helps with COVID-19 and variant wave responsiveness through:

  • Case management dashboards
  • Vaccine, testing, and health screening tracking
  • Establishment of entry policies with building access integration functions
  • Outbreak risk predictors to ensure preparedness  

3. People Engagement

You can manage employee engagement tasks and analytics through:

  • Sentiment tracking tools 
  • Coaching prompts
  • Mentor and mentee programs
  • Wellness checks

Power Your Organization's Hybrid Work Environment With ReturnSafe

Instead of reacting to changing workplace norms with an already overworked HR team, take charge of the changes by systemically standardizing workplace policies and instituting wellness processes that fit the time. ReturnSafe's new platform and our support services are designed to give you the insights and tools you need. Contact us today to learn more or to schedule a demo.