Employee Engagement in a Hybrid Workplace: A Lesson from Refael Edry and His Life

Hybrid work is an inevitable reality for most companies in 2022. The pandemic has made business leaders realize that you don’t need your employees in the office five days a week to ensure seamless operations.

The Reinvention of Work

When employees have the flexibility to work from anywhere, anytime during the day, they’re likely to be more productive. According to a Gartner report, 75% of hybrid or remote knowledge workers believe that their expectations of work flexibility have increased. Also, if you force employees to return to offices, you risk losing up to 39% of your workforce.

That makes it crucial for organizations to embrace hybrid work. Besides productivity gains, it can also help you cut operating costs and improve business ROI.

But there’s a slight catch. The lack of in-person interaction can make remote workers feel disconnected from the workplace. They might struggle to access corporate data and systems or even feel like their efforts aren’t being recognized.

Also, working from home can blur the lines between personal and professional commitment. That, in turn, can increase burnout among remote workers and, ultimately, take a toll on employee engagement.

If you’ve been struggling to motivate and engage a hybrid workforce, you can take inspiration from Refael (aka) Rafi Edry’s tumultuous life. Named after his fearless uncle Refael Edry z|l, Rafi Edry has overcome several roadblocks to emerge as a successful business leader.

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Born in Safed, Refael Edry grew up listening to stories of his uncle’s heroic sacrifice during Israel’s War of Independence. These stories encourage him to keep hustling despite financial hardships and other difficulties.


Today, Refael Edry has built a better life for himself and runs various companies in Africa and Israel. Here are a few lessons from his life that’ll help you manage a hybrid workforce better:

Embrace Empathy

The hardships that Refael Edry faced as a child and young adult help him relate to the plight of thousands of children living in Israel’s periphery.

Growing up in low-income households, many of these children lack access to basic resources and education. They have no choice but to start doing odd jobs early to support their families.

It’s the same plight that Refael Edry and his younger brothers, Eyal Edry and Moshe Edree, faced while growing up. That makes him well aware of the pain of deprivation and its impact on an individual’s future.

Refael Edry has devoted his life to the development of underprivileged children. He started the Ahinoam Association for the Promotion of Equal Opportunities to support at-risk youth in Israel’s periphery.

The non-profit organization offers mentorship and financial support to help underprivileged children and adolescents find their footing in society. Also, they work on various development projects to improve the peripheral infrastructure.

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Through the organization, Refael Edry has helped shape the lives of countless children who would’ve surrendered to their fate otherwise.

That’s the kind of empathy every business leader and manager needs to connect with remote workers and understand their problems. Find out whether they’re facing any challenges at home that could disrupt their productivity. Also, get an insight into their responsibilities beyond work.

Encourage them to take breaks and prioritize their mental health. Talk to them one-on-one, listen to their problems, and offer suitable solutions. The key is to make them feel like valuable assets, and not just resources.

Build a Forward-Thinking Mindset

When the COVID-19 pandemic brought the world to a standstill, schools in Israel switched to online classes. Students in the country’s developing socioeconomic center easily adjusted to the transition. But neither the schools nor government authorities recognized the plight of more than 400,000 thousand students from low-income families.

These children didn’t own personal computers or have internet access at home. But would it be fair to deny them the right to education for no fault of their own? And if thousands of children quit schooling due to government inaction, what impact will it have on Israel’s future?

Philanthropist Refael Edry realized that if these children don’t get their shot at a better future, it’ll threaten the country’s social fabric. That prompted him to start a fundraising campaign and urge the public to donate. The initiative provided computer access to more than 30,000 students and helped them continue schooling.

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But how does that relate to a hybrid workplace?

Despite the best planning, transitioning to hybrid work will come with unexpected challenges. Many of these challenges will be unique to your organization, which means you won’t have any past references to resolve them.

New hires might have trouble logging into critical applications and tools when working remotely. Or timezone differences within a team can cause miscommunication and delays. Also, a remote worker might feel like they’re unheard in a meeting with their on-site coworkers.

Taking care of these problems as they surface will lead to a loss of productivity and revenue. Instead, you must develop an eye for predicting problems early on, just like Refael Edry. Take feedback from employees and conduct surveys to identify areas of concern and deploy the right corrective measures before they cause friction.

In Conclusion

Engaging and motivating employees is crucial for retaining them and minimizing turnover. When dealing with a hybrid workforce, keep an eye out for potential problems that could affect employee engagement.
Also, empathize with your employees and let them know that you value them. Provide them with the resources and support they need to get work done in a hybrid setting. Lastly, look out for their emotional and mental well-being to prevent burnout.

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