Over the last two years, as remote working became a necessity for businesses worldwide, companies were compelled to find new ways of working overnight. Digitisation of businesses accelerated as companies sought solutions to remain competitive and lead their workforces through turbulent times.
Overall, the remote working model was successful. Employees worked productively from home and achieved a better work-life balance as it became clear that work didn’t have to be done in a fixed location. Today, most workers prefer a flexible working pattern and companies are facing challenges in optimising the hybrid work model long-term to sustain worker engagement and remain competitive. This article considers the challenges IT and development teams in Malta face in accommodating hybrid work patterns with tips on making it work.
The key to successful business operations has become much more complex. Despite the variety of available videoconferencing systems and platforms to host online meetings, not all employees are confident about speaking across virtual systems. Ideas don’t flow easily during online sessions and communication can be stilted. Nuances in meaning can get lost on screen.
Teams and individuals don’t always have access to the same systems, so management needs to find integrated communication systems that suit everyone and give all attendees a similar experience and opportunity to participate. Providing high-quality audio and visual tools and equipment to all staff members can be expensive. While technological advancements in virtual meeting systems have created more professional meeting scenarios, managers will still have to take steps to include all attendees. They might find themselves regularly taking the role of active facilitator.
Collaborative working opportunities change when employees aren’t physically working together or meeting face to face. Generating enthusiasm for teamwork when employees don’t interact socially is challenging. Managers must create and implement a team structure that involves all workers achieving common company goals. Social connection is conducive to creativity and cooperative problem-solving. Companies need to facilitate connections and keep team members engaged. Information sharing must be closely managed so that all team members access the same data and stay aligned with company goals.
When staff work remotely and on a hybrid basis, the onboarding process becomes more complicated. Effective onboarding is vital for engaging and retaining new employees and is an ongoing process that involves introductions, training and integrating new hires into the company culture. New employees need to feel connected and have opportunities to ask questions and give feedback.
Although onboarding takes time and requires careful planning, it’s an important and worthwhile process. New employees need opportunities to establish good working relationships with co-workers and understand how their role fits into the company. There is a range of available technology to facilitate the onboarding process. However, management must be conscious of providing in-house and remote opportunities to optimise the onboarding process.
Businesses whose employees work predominately from home are more likely to face an increase in resignations. Competition for top-tier IT staff has generated a candidate-centric market and post-pandemic employee expectations are now higher, with workers valuing flexible patterns and competitive packages. While employees expect flexible working opportunities, they are more likely to leave companies if they don’t physically attend the workplace at all.
Companies that are better prepared to adapt to flexible patterns and actively manage conditions for development within hybrid teams are more likely to retain staff and sustain company growth. There are many aspects to consider when your workforce becomes hybrid and companies must decide on the system which best suits their business and workforce.
One of the main advantages of hybrid and remote working is that it removes the barrier of commuting to work. This aspect has placed people with childcare responsibilities and workers with mobility limitations in a stronger position to work remotely or on a hybrid basis. It has also given companies access to a wider talent pool and a more diverse workforce.
Quantifying employee productivity and contribution when team members work in different locations can be complicated. Employers must implement systems to monitor employee performance and offer constructive feedback without micromanaging staff. It’s also essential for management to ensure that all employees have equal opportunities at work, regardless of their location.
Creating pleasant workspaces to encourage employee attendance is essential. Businesses need to show empathy and support to employees that are anxious about returning to the office. Equally, companies must be conscious of the impacts of remote working on staff mental health and well-being. Companies should be aware of how issues like screen fatigue, compromised communication and feelings of isolation might impact their team and provide them with appropriate support.
With employees working from home, there’s a greater risk to company security. Employees may use their own devices or send work files to personal email accounts. WiFi connections are not always secure and systems are vulnerable to phishing attacks. Mitigating security threats and educating employees on safer practices and company policies are important steps.
Although getting used to the ‘new normal’ and managing flexible working patterns presents challenges, it also offers excellent possibilities for growth and innovation. We’ve put together some suggestions to help you navigate the process:
- Be responsive and flexible to staff needs.
- Take time to evaluate workplace policies and make adjustments to fit the new hybrid model.
- Give clear guidelines and host information sessions for leaders and team members with opportunities to ask questions.
- Create team agreements to establish trust.
- Organise team activities and opportunities for interaction.
- Provide leadership training with a focus on empathy.
- Be clear about communication platforms and provide opportunities to give and receive feedback.
- Make yourself available to staff at certain times and check in on employees.
- Implement health and safety measures with testing stations and sufficient PPE.
The IT sector is in a powerful position to understand and implement technology to facilitate processes and manage hybrid working effectively. Have a look at the latest IT jobs we have on offer in Malta.
For more information on current IT salaries in Malta, feel free to download our latest IT Salary Survey.