The Success of Hybrid Work Environment: Benefits, Breaking Stereotypes, and Navigating Challenges
Guest Blogger: Penn Lindsay, VP of Acquisitions & Development
The Covid-19 pandemic forced many companies to shift to remote work to ensure employee safety. Three years later, Dakota has fully embraced a hybrid work model, which has positively impacted our company. Prior to 2020, our workforce was almost completely in person. Today, our employees are 70% hybrid and 30% fully remote. Local Waltham employees are typically in the office on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday and remote on Monday and Friday. Outside of Massachusetts, we have remote employees living in ten states – CT, RI, VA, NY, TX, FL, NH, Il, MD & ME.
Benefits of Hybrid Workforce
The hybrid work model has resulted in a number of benefits to the company and to our staff, including:
- Expanding the search area for employees to ensure outstanding candidates for open positions, regardless of geography.
- Flexibility for employees to manage their work-life balance.
- Empowerment and trust in employees to manage their days and their work load.
- Improved intra-company communication to ensure each employee is engaged, motivated, and dialed-in to the company culture.
Supporting Our Culture
Our team members thrive on collaboration, accentuate the positive, and focus on delivering creative solutions that help ensure successful outcomes for our multifamily housing projects and the people who live in them. At Dakota, we all do what it takes to get the job done. The feedback we’ve received from our employees on making the hybrid work environment permanent has been overwhelmingly positive. The flexible work schedule for all employees, no matter their location, encourages a healthy life-work balance and reinforces our mission of creating housing that matters.
Breaking the Stereotype
Remote work is often associated with the negative stereotype that it can lead to unproductive employees who lack engagement and commitment to company culture. To overcome the stereotype, our team has made a concerted effort to plan events that bring employees together, including monthly lunches in the office, quarterly team-building events that incorporate remote employees, and site visits of in-progress construction sites and communities in our portfolio. These events help create a strong sense of camaraderie among employees and promote staff engagement and a positive company culture.
To successfully navigate the challenges of a hybrid work environment, companies need to focus on several key areas, especially communication and management. At Dakota, our first priority was the creation and implementation of appropriate technology, such as Teams, group chats, high-quality computer cameras, and other tools necessary for effective communication. In March 2020 when offices began to close forcing us to work from home, Dakota’s employees immediately rose to the challenge. We worked hard over the first few weeks of quarantine to keep the lines of communication open both internally and externally to ensure nothing fell through the cracks. This increased productivity ensured a seamless transition to a work from home environment, ensuring confidence that this new normal could be a feasible and successful work model moving forward.
Managing remote teams is critical, which includes fostering teamwork and culture within departments and reinforcing the individual value of each team member to the overall team and company. Starting with onboarding, our department heads work together with Human Resources to guide new hires in finding all company resources and developing relationships within the organization. Without the benefit of being in person, these protocols ensure employees feel supported, engaged, and motivated. By addressing these challenges head-on, we created a successful hybrid work environment that benefits both employees and the organization as a whole.
The success of the hybrid work model has enabled Dakota to expand our search for talented employees, provide flexibility to employees, and promote a positive company culture. By breaking stereotypes and navigating challenges associated with remote work, we are working hard to ensure our workforce is engaged, motivated, and productive. At Dakota, we haven’t perfected this model yet but, by embracing it and working hard to tailor it to our needs, our company is stronger today than it was pre-pandemic.