One unexpected byproduct of the COVID-19 crisis has been a shift in how companies value remote work. While in-person meetings can be essential for some highly collaborative tasks, employees increasingly idealize a hybrid workplace. The hybrid model entails a combination of work-from-home and in-office work, and has been widely adopted across industries.
The Future of Work is Hybrid
Benefits of hybrid workplaces for employee wellness and productivity point to the power of increased autonomy to enhance performance. Hybrid work gives professionals more freedom over their routine. Employees who have a say in the extent to which they work remotely versus in the office are empowered to work smarter.
Barriers to Employee Engagement in a Hybrid Workplace
A physical office space is conducive to colleagues connecting organically. Whether it’s office banter, casual collaboration, or the kind of closeness that comes from seeing someone’s day-to-day…every day, physical proximity has at least some benefits for employee engagement. On the other hand, in fully remote workplaces, feelings of isolation are often the norm. Everyone is working from home; everyone is predisposed to feel a bit disconnected.
Hybrid work may pose the greatest threat to employee engagement. A Harvard Business review survey of over 1,000 employees reveals that working remotely while some colleagues are in the office is associated with feeling left out and mistreated. The researchers recommend taking “extra measures to build trust and connection” in response to challenges associated with the hybrid model.
92% of employers believe that engaged employees perform better.
– Harvard Business Review
Virtual Events Foster Team Building & Engagement
According to research, 92% of employers believe that engaged employees perform better, boosting productivity and business’ bottom-line. Social events are a go-to strategy for fostering engagement amongst employees. In-person events run the risk of exacerbating the main challenge of a hybrid workplace: office workers getting closer while remote workers feel left out.
Hybrid workplaces turn to virtual events so that all employees are on equal footing, participating from the comfort of their homes. With great execution, a virtual event can allow teams to connect and develop.
Skyrocketing Employee Morale
Technology is paving the way for creative and engaging virtual events. One popular activity, Online Office Olympics, is a series of games and mini challenges designed to engage teams in a lighthearted competition for bragging rights. A virtual host squeezes in as many silly, high-energy games and challenges as possible into a 90-minute session.
Other events like trivia challenges and improv activities give employees the opportunity to mingle and collaborate with coworkers they may not regularly work with. By opening doors for more casual encounters that are less common in the hybrid workplace, virtual events can spark much-needed connection.
Teams grow when they face challenges together. A creative way to accelerate this kind of team bonding is by manufacturing a high-stakes challenge with a virtual event. A popular activity for companies looking to promote problem-solving and teamwork is a virtual escape room. Like a traditional escape room, a narrative component ties together a series of puzzles to be solved collaboratively before time runs out.
One participant told Thriver, “This was my first experience with a virtual escape room and was done as a work team building event. It was really fun! Our guide Michael was great, the interface worked very well and the puzzles were just challenging enough to make you think and have to use some brain power but not overwhelmingly hard where it tool away the fun. Overall a great experience!”
Solving puzzles together with a time crunch is not merely entertaining—it builds communication skills and trust—two essential components in any workplace.
Embracing New Workplace Traditions
The times of holiday parties and after-work drinks as the extent of scheduled socializing are in the past. Whether employee engagement sinks or swims in a hybrid workplace will depend on our willingness to embrace new technologies and the changing landscape of social events. Virtual events offer something for everybody, but most importantly, they are an inclusive approach to building happier and more productive teams.