Hybrid work models have gone a long way to supporting businesses to remain operational throughout the pandemic. However, as the world adapts to (dare we say it?) the ‘new normal,’ it’s time for everyone to reconsider these models in light of what employees need and organisational goals.
The question on everyone’s lips is: will hybrid work persist beyond the pandemic?
While it should, there is a creeping threat which can quickly undermine the progress that’s already been made thus far. And that’s unconscious bias. So, what is it? And how can your organisation overcome it and harness the power and benefits of hybrid work models?
Unconscious Bias Towards Hybrid Work
There are 3 key reasons unconscious bias is undermining hybrid work models the world over.
The first is that the employee experience is suffering as individuals who choose to work remotely are overlooked – or worse totally forgotten about. Remote and asynchronous workers are finding that, in some cases, they are missed when it comes to promotion and pay rises, which as you might imagine will take its toll on retention and performance in the long term.
The second is that many managers and executive teams are still questioning how productive their employees really are when they aren’t in the office. The result of this is company-wide mandates to return to the office. Or worse, the introduction of invasive employee monitoring tools which, at best, convey a distinct lack of mistrust to employees.
The third is the commonly held misconception that innovation can’t happen in hybrid settings. This final kind of bias has seen the creation of a catch 22, where lack of the right tools and guidance is stifling innovation, but it isn’t necessarily the result of hybrid working models but lack of investment and strategy.
Overcoming Unconscious Bias
So, what can be done to overcome unconscious bias in hybrid working situations?
Snap decisions never balance the needs of everyone. In fact, most of the time they’re based on a single person’s frame of reference, which inevitably leads to bias. Better planning and proactive decision making are the only way to combat this, as well as bringing a range of voices and backgrounds to the table to ensure conversations and actions taken from them are inclusive across the board.
Quality Over Quantity
If we are really to overcome bias, we need to challenge our mindsets. Moving forwards, quality of output should be the core focus of an employee’s performance, not how long they are sat at a desk for. This is particularly important right now, when the lines between work and personal life are becoming blurred and employees are struggling to safeguard their right to disconnect.
Remote Management Training
It’s probably safe to say that most managers have very little experience in managing remote teams. Like any other skill or knowledge gap, this needs to be plugged in order to gain a competitive advantage in an increasingly remote landscape. Appropriate training can also go a long way to highlighting bias and supporting managers to overcome it.
The Right Tech
Successful hybrid work models require the right technology. Without investment in the appropriate systems, tools, software and apps, remote employees will find the experience unengaging, stressful and tiring. Employee experience platforms and collaboration tools are crucial to enabling a work from anywhere culture that gets the best from everyone.
For more tips on enhancing the employee experience, overcoming unconscious bias and boosting employee engagement, head over to the Huler blog.