It’s probably not going to be the word of the year, but of all the words and ideas that Covid has given us ‘hybrid’ may well be the one which will go on to describe our new working environment best. As we see a slow and steady return to some kind of normality, hybrid working will be the most obvious result. This pattern – of a mixture of working worlds – part of the time with colleagues in an office of some description – partly in a home office environment using technology to stay connected – looks set to become the norm for some time to come.
So HR will continue to have to find new ways to adapt to this hybrid environment and the impact it will continue to have on the way we work. It will also impact on how we feel. According to a study the CIPD, last June 44 per cent of people said their social connections had become worse. Hardly a surprise as we slowly emerge from a tough period of lockdown. But this figure rose to 50% for those who, in the words of the survey, were ‘not in their usual workplace’. Those figures might have changed by now. We are learning to adapt ourselves to this new world of work. But lack of social connection is probably still going to be felt to some extent even as we gradually emerge from the latest lockdown.
Shared moments that matter
That means that we will continue to need moments of real connectivity between colleagues. Finding times when we can get together as teams – shared moments, if you like, between hybrid groups who are maybe in the office, on the road, or at home, and all at different times - will continue to be vital. This isn’t just necessary for keeping teams together and sharing both business objectives and team news. As human beings we also simply crave connections, shared moments which bring us closer together.
Such shared moments should include things like sharing a meal. Pubs and restaurants may well be open again soon, but teams will continue to be spread out across distant locations. Getting people together in one place at one time may well be almost impossible. But whether we are working from home or back in the office, we can still come together to share food online, and through that community activity, continue to connect and share our thoughts and experiences.
Just as the working environment becomes more hybrid, so should other aspects of work. That should include rewards and recognition. Just as shared meals can become a defining moment in a teams’ day or week, meals can also become a way to say ‘thank you’ or recognise an employee for going above and beyond. A reward they can share if they choose with family or friends. Traditional rewards, such as extra holidays or gym membership, may (for now anyway) have lost a little of their attraction when travel is still restricted and gyms remain closed.
New ways to say thank you to those at home, coming into the office, or returning home after a busy day out and about meeting clients - and which will be just as warmly welcomed by every one of those groups - are likely to remain in demand. And what better way is there to say thank you than with a meal of your choice served when you want it?
Taking the weight off your shoulders
With so many demands upon HR’s time, managing all manner of issues, from easing the return of employees from furlough to continuing to closely monitor employee wellbeing, this might all seem like yet more work to add to the bulging inbox. Managing rewards, such as those outlined, for hybrid workforces, may sound attractive, but the operation sounds like yet another burden placed on already heavily weighted shoulders. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
There are partners out there, like Uber for Business, that can lift that burden from your already over weighted shoulders – from the management of food delivery to issuing reward vouchers to specific employees. Whatever the problem, there is a solution. So HR can get on with the big issues – like communication, health and wellbeing – while partners take care of delivering the basics.
One day all this will seem a distant memory. But until the return to some kind of new normal hybrid working will continue to be the norm - and so should hybrid or fluid rewards. Maintaining connections with those hybrid teams will be vital now and for some time into the future, together with hybrid rewards for these hybrid times. Hopefully there is no going back to lockdown, but that doesn’t mean that the shared moments – around a team meal together, whether on-line or off-line – can’t continue to be part of your commitment to having those moments of connection and reward that bring teams together and keep them together.
Tim Burgess is head of Uber Business UK.
To find out more about how Uber for Business can deliver tasty rewards to keep your teams connected click here.