Four Challenges of Remote Work—And How Hybrid Can Help
Working from home is great, but not all the time. Despite the perks that many remote workers enjoy, the downsides can be detrimental to one’s productivity, motivations, feelings of autonomy and overall happiness levels.
Switching to hybrid work—a work style that allows employees to blend working from different locations, whether from home, an office or coworking space—can make all the difference.
Here are the most common challenges of working from home, and hybrid work solutions.
Challenge: Difficulty Unplugging After Work
Working from home might save time on one’s daily commute, yet most employees report working longer hours. A trend index from Microsoft shows that high productivity is masking an exhausted workforce. The lines between work and home life are blurred, largely in part to a majority of the workforce now working from home.
Based on their findings, the digital intensity of workers’ days has increased substantially, with the average number of meetings and chats steadily increasing since last year.
For example, the average meeting is 10-minutes longer than the previous year’s recordings and the average Microsoft Teams user is sending 45 percent more chats per week and 42 percent more chats per person after hours, with chats per week still on the rise.
Most interestingly, meeting and chat overload hasn’t altered response time. This means that 50-percent of people still respond to Teams chats within five minutes or less. “This proves the intensity of our workday, and that what is expected of employees during this time, has increased significantly.”
How Hybrid Work Can Help
For many teams, switching to a hybrid work model creates a better work-life balance. In fact, achieving a healthy work-life balance is the number one reason employees seek more flexible work options such as hybrid work. Other top reasons include time and cost savings, less commute stress and more opportunities to spend with their families.
Unlike working from home where leisure activities may affect output, hybrid work offers a familiar productivity-focused structure with added flexibility. With more coworking spaces popping up in the suburbs, you may only have to travel a couple minutes to be in a more productive environment.
Coworking spaces are typically more appealing in terms of design and layout, and working from an ‘inspired’ workplace will inspire you. In addition to having all the equipment you’re used to—meeting rooms, a communal kitchen, mailboxes and copy machines—there are other benefits thrown in. Some spaces offer free beer on tap while others feature private phone booths, a mother’s room or standing desks.
Challenge: Feelings of Loneliness
Mental health in the workplace is often overlooked, but should be taken as seriously as physical wellbeing. The CDC notes that 1 in 5 American adults experience mental health problems, with 71% reporting at least one symptom of stress.
OWL Labs ran a study on how remote work affects productivity and overall happiness at work. They found that 80% of employees believe being able to continue to work remotely, post pandemic would make them feel like their employer cares about them.
Furthermore, DeskMag found that 71% of people surveyed were more creative and 62% reported that their measure of work improved significantly. Ninety-percent said they felt more confident when coworking.
How Hybrid Work Can Help
The good news is that hybrid work can actually benefit your mental health. Environment can enhance or detract from doing one’s best work.
At Modern Work, we’ve included filters and ‘moods’ that allow members and teams to curate the best spaces for their particular work styles. It gives teams the flexibility to choose a space based on the layout, the location or the overall atmosphere.
A coworking spaces like Modern Work allows teams to create an ideal work environment for their hybrid work employees. In many ways, teams and individuals can cherry-pick aspects they want and don’t want (a quiet atmosphere, or the place that always stocks a certain brand of tea). There are also filters in place to better narrow down available space options.
Challenge: Strained Communication Channels
The way teams communicate has shifted significantly over the past year. For many workers, there was (or perhaps still is) an adjustment period. In-person meetings were replaced with video calls and many video calls were transferred over to email.
Email and other collaboration tools can be really helpful in streamlining communication, but it does require a consistent effort to be understood as intended. For example, since words are written rather than spoken, the way it’s read and interpreted isn’t always in the way it was intended.
Zapier words it best. “When the bulk of your communication happens via email and the like, it doesn’t take much for bad blood to develop unless everyone is making their best effort to the contrary. Small misunderstandings that could have been nipped in the bud with the wink of an eye or a certain tone of voice can quickly snowball into drama.”
How Hybrid Work Can Help
While it’s true that collaboration tools like Zoom, Slack and Teams have come to the rescue during the pandemic, there’s still a certain chemistry that happens with in-person meetings. Through Modern Work, teams can reserve meeting rooms on-demand by the hour and private offices by the day or multiple days.
Modern Work offers many conference rooms and meeting spaces in Omaha. It’s easy to filter spaces based on amenities, equipment (things like a whiteboard, presentation display).
Challenge: Poor Motivation and Productivity
Working from home has been linked with feelings of isolation and even loneliness, both of which directly impact one’s motivation and productivity. Humans are social creatures and it’s only natural that we’d want to meet in-person at least some of the time.
Microsoft also noted that shrinking networks are endangering innovation. Specifically, the pandemic-drivel isolation people feel in their personal lives is also happening at work.
As Dr. Nancy Baym, Senior Principal Researcher at Microsoft aptly writes, “when you lose connections, you stop innovating. It’s harder for new ideas to get in and groupthink becomes a serious possibility.”
A slowdown of career developments and promotions may also contribute to feelings of low motivation. When everyone is working from home, it’s more difficult to network, gain ‘on-the-job’ experience or pursue advancement opportunities.
How Hybrid Work Can Help
When you’re working from home, there are certain distractions that don’t exist in an office environment. Distractions come in many forms, from barking dogs and crying babies to laundry in the dryer. Employees who live in a city like New York, where prices per square footage are high, finding a room or even a corner of a room to work from can be tough.
Working from a coworking space, as part of a hybrid work model, creates an instant separation. You wake up a little earlier, dress up a little nicer and eat a little better. Even if the whole team isn’t working together in the same space, having other people around is stimulating and provides a sense of normalcy.