This week, professional services firms KPMG and Lloyd's of London announced that they will be adopting a hybrid working model, where employees have the flexibility to work both remotely and at the office. Other organizations are making the same moves, including Google, Zillow and Spotify. While businesses of all sizes are attempting to move into a new normal after being forced to go remote due to the pandemic, it's worth asking...
Could a hybrid working model cause discrimination in the workplace?
Why Go Hybrid?
It's no secret that the move to remote work was sudden and barely planned. It was challenging for employers to adapt to the new model and consider if their remote employees could be trusted outside the watchful eyes of management. Then came the challenge of remote workers leaving the workplace - especially working moms who were trying to juggle the demands of their employers and the demands of their families.
Remote work doesn't work for everyone, depending on job responsibilities and home responsibilities. But it will also be a shock to the system to go back to working in an office full-time. Employees want flexibility and that's where the hybrid model shines.
How Are Employers Going Hybrid?
According to SHRM, there are no set standards of what the hybrid working model will look like. Depending on the vaccine rollout, the technology investment, and a host of other variables, the hybrid work model will likely be decided by examining many factors within the employer/employee working relationship. At this point, there is still some disagreement on how many days employees should work remote versus in-house to achieve a level of productivity and engagement and maintain good company culture. To learn more, review PwC's US Remote Work Survey.
How Can Hybrid Working Cause Workplace Discrimination?
In the past year, employers have witnessed a breakdown in communication and camaraderie with employees working from home. Technology investments are up, especially in those tools that help teams stay engaged. But remote workers are burnt out on Zoom meetings and miss the simplicity of water cooler discussions and gathering in person. Working in the office a few days a week can help support employee and team engagement.
Employees looking for a more flexible work arrangement may also face the "false perception" of being less committed to their jobs and could also be overlooked for promotions. Leadership needs to adjust to this new working model so that less facetime doesn't lead to bias within the workplace. Management and human resources must work together to help remote employees stay front of mind, with training, opportunities, and inclusion in company culture.
The pandemic threw employers into the fire and over a year later, they're looking to find some steady ground again. While a new working model won't work for all businesses, let's hope that they're listening to what works best for the tried and true employees who stuck around. The onus is on HR and management to ensure that remote employees don't get left behind.