A leader should be visionary and have more foresight than an employee.– Jack Ma
Last week, we began a discussion on the Hybrid Work Structure and its Impact on Driving Peak Performance. While several positive points were highlighted, we also noted some adverse reactions as we made comparisons. You might want to read it here if you missed it.
This week however, we’ll be taking a look at the Pitfalls of the Hybrid Working Structure and How To Avoid Them
The Pitfalls of The Hybrid Working Structure and How To Avoid Them
While hybrid work boasts of big potentials, it’s not foolproof. Considering hybrid work without putting certain things in place can seriously disrupt productivity and create a tense, unproductive and unpleasant atmosphere. Leaders must therefore avoid the following potential pitfalls in order to get the best from a hybrid work structure.
1. High Dependence on Manual Processes
If you are not taking advantage of opportunities to automate, then you and team stand the risk of missing out on a loads of opportunities for expansion and growth. While it’s not a replacement for human team members, leveraging AI-based assistants can support the success of your team. Actually, reducing your manual processes with AI can:
- Allow employees to spend time on more challenging, rewarding tasks
- Give suggestions for better quality during creative blocks
- Improve productivity metrics.
2. Poor Work-life Balance
The Microsoft study revealed a third daily “productivity peak” well after traditional working hours and an increase in after-hours and weekend work. For many people working remotely, it is difficult to draw the line between work hours and non-work hours. Yes some nocturnal team members may prefer the flexibility of tending to private and family matters early in the day and getting work in latter in the day while diurnal team members many prefer the opposite but it is important to put policies and structures in place to ensure your team maintain a positive work-life balance event while implementing a hybrid work structure.
3. Tools Overload
With the influx of options marketed towards increasing employee productivity, you might find yourself tempted to train your team to utilize all sorts of work management tools. But there are a few points to consider, such as, focusing on using app-less tools that work with the apps your employees already use, to reduce unnecessary training costs while also preventing app-bloat There are actually some truly innovative options out there, but overdoing it may actually overwhelm your equipment and your team members – creating new challenges that are not necessary.
4. Cybersecurity Threats
The hybrid work environment can be very exposed to a host of cybersecurity threats. Not only has the number of cybercrimes dramatically risen since the pandemic, but the fact that your team are using numerous routers and devices to access sensitive data can also provide just the loophole an attacker needs to infiltrate your organisation.
If you have a bring-your-own-laptop policy, or if your staff are taking their office laptops home on remote days, you need to ensure these devices are thoroughly protected. It would be best if you had a very reliable antivirus, firewall and threat prevention tool. You also need to implement clear and straightforward cybersecurity policies and provide adequate training for your employees.
By teaching them to identify common risks, including phishing, unsecured websites, unsafe passwords, and so on, you can minimise a lot of the risk that comes with hybrid work.
Allowing end users to remain productive while keeping your organization’s data secure must be a priority in any hybrid workplace model. This reality, however, presents a huge challenge for IT security, which depends heavily on cloud-based structures and deals with the relentless risk of data breaches and cyber-attacks.
According to a 2022 survey by Thales Cloud Security Study, Global Edition, 45 percent of participant businesses claim to have experienced data breaches or failed audits involving cloud-based data and applications—up from 40 percent the year before. As for cyber-attacks or malware threats, another study by the Tessian Cloud Email Security shows that 47 percent of respondents working in the tech industry said they’ve clicked on a phishing email at work
So, does this mean working in a hybrid model is synonymous with data breaches? Certainly not. While there’s no failproof antidote against security risks, some IT best practices can mitigate them. One is adopting a zero-trust model, which requires users and devices to be authenticated and validated every time they access data either inside or outside the organization’s network.
Another efficient way of preventing data breaches is by thoroughly managing external sharing or guest access, ensuring only the right people have access to the information they need. This is particularly important in hybrid workplaces because IT might not have the immediate visibility into shared data, so when they detect an issue, it might be too late to act. On top of that, managing guest access manually is a task that will consume valuable time that IT teams can dedicate to other projects.
5. Unconscious Bias
An unfortunate pitfall here is that employees who come to the office may get more opportunities than those who don’t. Unconsciously, leaders may treat remote and hybrid teams less important.
According to a recent research by MIT Sloane Management Review: “Employees who work remotely may end up getting lower performance evaluations, smaller raises and fewer promotions than their colleagues in the office — even if they work just as hard and just as long.”
Leaders must be mindful of this possibility and as it can have devastating effects on company culture and work relationships. And how can you do this? By setting clear individual goals and evaluating everyone’s results based on how these goals were achieved. That way, you can let data, rather than your subjective perceptions, guide your evaluations.
6. Bandwagon Execution
Ashley Nell Tipton said “When companies are jumping on the bandwagon to do plus size, they limit themselves”. You limit yourself as a leader if you jump on the bandwagon of Hybrid Work Structure without checking the value it brings to your business. You need to seek how to leverage the unique advantages it creates, while also taking note of the pitfalls and being very intentional about how much time is spent on-site versus at home.
So as a leader, you can start by asking your team members what’s working, what’s not working, and what’s most effective for them – and then going ahead to track how those answers change with time and repetition.
Examples of questions to ask include:
- Describe the work you do that can be done independently.
- Describe the work you do that is better when we work together.
- What happens when we are in-person together that doesn’t happen, when we work from home?
- Describe the times when you feel connected to our team’s work culture.
- Describe the times when our team works best with other teams.
- How do we build some predictability in our work schedules so in-person time is maximized?
- Describe the times when we have created exceptional value for our clients.
- Describe the times when our team works best with other teams.
To further position your leaders for peak performance, you can download a free copy of the latest edition of The Peak Performer Magazine at www.thepeakperformer.africa You can also enroll your Mid-level Leadership Team for the Made4More Accelerator Program https://abiolachamp.com/m4m-accelerator and your Senior Leadership Team for the Dr. Abiola Salami International Leadership Bootcamp MOMBASA 2024 https://abiolachamp.com/international-bootcamp/
About Dr. Abiola Salami
Dr. Abiola Salami is the Convener of Dr Abiola Salami International Leadership Bootcamp and The Peak PerformerTM. He is the Principal Performance Strategist at CHAMP – a full scale professional services firm trusted by high performing business leaders for providing Executive Coaching, Workforce Development & Advisory Services to improve performance. You can reach his team on firstname.lastname@example.org and connect with him @abiolachamp on all social media platforms.