Balancing teleworking and face-to-face work

If the pandemic has helped us rethink our work organization, it has also highlighted forgotten elements. The importance of physical proximity and human interactions in many professions is one of them.

In recent months, several symptoms have illustrated the limits of teleworking five days a week. Among these are the feeling of isolation, difficulty sleeping, and concentration problems. In fact, according to a recent survey, 73% of Canadian employees report having burnout symptoms[1].

Consequently, organizations are naturally beginning to move towards a hybrid model of work organization. This template for tomorrow will include a necessary balance between face-to-face and teleworking

Teleworking brings positive things, but so does face-to-face work

It should be noted that 68% of workers appreciate this way of working. The latter will undoubtedly develop in the future, as the positive impacts for society, the organization, or the employee are undeniable. On one hand, we can cite the ecological impact with the reduction in road traffic. On the other hand, the economic impact can be mentioned with the cutback on commute times and the cost of fixed workstations. In parallel, there are also commercial benefits for businesses established close to the teleworkers’ homes. Finally, we report a reduction in stress related to transportation and increased autonomy when it comes to time management. All these factors contribute to a better quality of life.

However, the virtual will not replace physical proximity at 100%. The experience of the past year tends to demonstrate two elements related to being at the office with one’s team. Indeed, this face-to-face aspect is said to facilitate the accomplishment of collaborative work, as well as the fructification of innovative and creative ideas.

The hybrid model, the best of both worlds

What is hybrid working mode? It is a new distribution of working time, for example 3 days teleworking and 2 days in the office. Its advantage lies in matching productivity goals to maintaining a physical bond with team members. This is the reason that the “hybrid” formula unites a strong majority of workers. Therefore, 71% would be satisfied with such formula. Simultaneously, 55% see it as a tool to find a better balance between their professional and private lives.

The flexible office

Several companies were moving before the pandemic towards flexible workstations, offering a workplace that adapts its layout to the fact that all employees are not always at the office at the same time. The health crisis therefore had an accelerating effect. No more assigned offices, but modular workspaces that adapt to everyday life. Added to this is the reduction in the physical presence of employees in the company. This then generates a reduced need for office space.

The need for fun activities, workshops and face-to-face training sessions to promote social collaboration

As the organizational reality of work is moving towards a deep change, one of the crucial questions of tomorrow is emerging. How to picture this new way of promoting collaboration at work by combining face-to-face and virtual? First, the adoption of a digital workspace with collaborative virtual tools is a must. Another key aspect would be to plan face-to-face team time right away, through workshops or fun training sessions. These demonstrate their usefulness by maintaining team dynamics in a flexible work environment. Managers, are you ready for this?

With the entrenchment of spontaneous exchanges due to remote work, the notion of collaboration must be brought back into the daily lives of staff members. This is done by planning learning and discussion times in the office while respecting health measures. Thus, for managers, it is rethinking the entire ecosystem of tools to simplify work and promote productivity as well as physical collaboration.

By Albertine Girard, Adm.A, M.Sc, ICF, Consultant in strategic management and professional coach, contributor to the HR blog – Iceberg Management

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[1] Navarrete, Sonia (2021, 09 mars). Bien-être au travail : près de 3 télétravailleurs sur 4 rapportent un épuisement professionnel [Blogue].