Every generation, we get to reimagine the way we work. In the 1940s, World War I brought women into the workplace like never before. In the 1990s, PCs, emails and the internet impacted productivity, decision-making speed & communications, allowing us to work effectively with other timezones. In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic chased employees from the office and forced them to work from home. Fortunately, thanks to vaccines and the health system, we can now see a path to opportunity.
The return to workspaces is an unprecedented chance to create a new, more effective, and healthier model. Unfortunately, there seems to be a broadening gap between how employers and employees see the future of work. Employers must confront the reality of hybrid work.
Employees don’t know yet exactly what they want, but they know the full-time office is a “No”
According to a survey conducted by McKinsey, more than three-quarters of C-suite executives report that they expected the typical “core” employee to be back in the office three or more days a week. While they admit that the work-from-home experiment was surprisingly effective, they also believe that it hurts the company’s culture and sense of belonging. They can’t wait for employees to be back in the office and for a new normal that’s a little flexible but not dramatically different either. Most employees, however, report preferring a more flexible working model in the future.
Employers are underestimating misalignment
A recent survey from Microsoft shows that 63% of leaders believe they are thriving right now when only 40% of employees without decision-making authority are aligned with that vision.
Most leaders, keen to establish some level of control and some sense of normalcy very quickly, are focusing on answering the very logistical questions. It’s very understandable, and it’s also what every consultancy under the sun has told them to do. Those questions will typically include:
- What jobs can be performed remotely or hybrid and what jobs and/or key responsibilities must be performed on-site?
- How can we enable associates to collaborate remotely with ease, flexibility, and speed?
- Can we maintain our culture & measure performance?
- How will we foster virtual leadership?
- What do we do with our spare real estate?
- How many days a week employees should be in the office and should some days be mandatory?
These questions absolutely need an answer. But in this rush for control, leaders are assuming they know what the new normal should be. With all those tools & processes, they are sending employees the message that the finish line is close, and that the standards for years to come are set; running the risk of disengagement and disconnect.
The Work Trend Index survey referenced above shows that employees are at an inflection point: 41% are already considering leaving their current employer. In other words, one mistake with hybrid work policies could lead to significant turnover.
Ok, but “How do I transition to Hybrid Work successfully then?” you might ask
These are the steps we would recommend you to take:
1/ Assess your employees’ situation & ask them what they think should be set up
Ask your employees how they are doing and what they need. Ignoring their pains and hopes won’t help the organisation in the long run. Use employees’ feedback to build a picture of your hybrid work policy, it will serve as a base to build your plan.
2/ Create a plan to empower people for flexibility
With your employees at the centre of the process, start answering those critical questions we mentioned above. Who will be able to work remotely, and who might have to come in? How often? Etc. For instance, that’s when you will start thinking about office management tools. In addition, standardise the answers to these questions to formulate a plan to empower people for hybrid work. Above all, do not forget to provide guidance as you experiment and learn.
Photo by Surface on Unsplash
3/ Don’t be shy. Invest in space & technology
Office space no longer stops at the office. Therefore, make sure your employees have the proper infrastructures to work hybrid. Make your main office attractive enough to entice workers to commute in, and include a mix of collaboration areas. In addition, allow your teams to work and meet from anywhere if you wish to foster collaboration and innovation. Our team membership is a great example of a perk you could consider for this.
4/ Focus on culture and social aspects
One of the great dangers of hybrid work is the loss of company culture. Encourage your employees to meet and socialise. You can use an office management tool, and encourage employees to set statuses such as “open for a coffee chat”, or “open for drinks after work” etc.
5/ Leverage remote & hybrid work to attract talents
An overwhelming proportion of employees (73%), want flexible remote options to stay. Therefore, hybrid work represents an unprecedented opportunity to attract talents & foster diversity.
If you would like us to help you with your hybrid work transition, then you can book a free call.