Return to work presenting new challenges

Tracy Li
A hybrid working model where workforces are split between the office and outside locations will present various challenges for HR departments. 
Tracy Li

A hybrid working model, where workers are split between those in the office and those working remotely, presents various challenges for HR departments, according to recruitment firm Hays.

While most organizations in China are back at work, a return to the workplace has presented challenges such as having to redesign office layouts to allow for social distancing, or reviewing the use of common areas such as meeting rooms, receptions, kitchens and toilets.

Along with the need and demand for remote working options amidst the ongoing pandemic, this has led to the emergence of a hybrid working model.

 “Working in a hybrid model will be new to most businesses, and to ensure their employees remain happy and productive, HR teams need to take a number of considerations into account as they plan for this new era of work,” Sandra Henke, group head of People & Culture at Hays said.

She advises companies to build and maintain the culture of their business.

A company’s culture is a crucial part of any business, but operating a hybrid working model makes it harder to not only reinforce culture, but to build on it.

“How we engage with one another is central to any consideration of organizational culture,” Henke said. “Ensure you have regular weekly team catch-ups, and make sure they’re not all strictly work-related either, having fun and sharing success should be a key aspect any organization's culture. ”

Employees are returning to the office with different experiences and potentially different viewpoints, which means the very definition of diversity and inclusion will start to change. Inclusion will thus become more important when the majority of the workforce is no longer in the office, Hays said.

 “Ensure communication channels are open, so employees are able to voice their concerns. Encourage participation so employees, no matter where they are based, are taking part in company and team activities,” Henke said.

Organizations should make employee wellbeing a priority, according to the recruiting firm.

Returning employees will have had different experiences while in lockdown, each facing different challenges such as childcare commitments or limited space to work.

Many employees will also have concerns about returning to the workplace or continuing to work from home, all of which could have a considerable effect on their mental health and wellbeing.

Thus, it is important for organizations to exercise their duty of care, particularly for people who are struggling, Hays added. 

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