While a lot of our clients are back to their worksites 100%, many others are figuring out what to do about hybrid work. They’re not alone.
A recent survey by McKinsey found that nine out of 10 organizations will be combining remote and on-site work. A similar study found that seven out of 10 employers want a hybrid work model, but 75% of them don’t have a plan yet.
It’s time for businesses to make some decisions before they lose members of their team. You’ve heard of the Great Resignation? According to a recent report by Accenture, 83% of employees prefer a remote/hybrid model. Most telling, one out of two said they will likely look for a new job if they aren’t allowed some sort of flexible work arrangement (GetApp survey).
Beyond bending to employees’ wishes, businesses have found that a hybrid arrangement offers work life balance for team members, and a bigger talent pool, lower costs and higher productivity for the company. It can be the best of both worlds, if done correctly.
That’s easier said than done.
Hybrid Work Models
The biggest difficulty with a hybrid model is building and/or maintaining a positive company culture. As we all know, culture is one of the most important factors in attracting and keeping quality employees. Other considerations you may want to take into account when running a hybrid work schedule can be the loss or reduction in collaboration, client relationship time, quality training, security and perhaps most important, a sense of belonging.
Despite the potential challenges, it is essential to at least consider offering a flexible, hybrid work model. Here are three typical models:
- Remote first – Employees primarily work from home or from a co-working space and the company offers a central worksite for those who want it.
- Office occasional – For most of the week, employees work from home, but they are required to come to the worksite for a set number of days. There are numerous iterations of this such as flex-remote where everyone is in the office on certain days and can choose where to work the others, and custom scheduling that allows employees to request a specific schedule.
- Office first, remote allowed—In this scenario, most staff report to a worksite but a percentage of employees are allowed to work remotely.
A Holistic View
Whatever your work model, making a dramatic change and getting it right involves thoughtful planning and a holistic look at your company operations and talent. Here are five key elements to a successful approach.
Listen, be transparent and formalize the process
Numerous factors go into decisions about hybrid work models including employee safety, client retention, business development, productivity, cost reduction and work-life balance. The easiest way to get it right… listen to what your team wants and needs. Once you’ve taken the needs of your clients, business and team into consideration, decide on your approach, but be clear and open. Employees will appreciate your sharing insight about how you came to this important decision. Also, be deliberate about creating and communicating a formal remote work policy. For example, are there certain days when everyone has to be in the office? Are some roles required to be on site while others aren’t? What if employees have special circumstances; can they request an exception to the rule? If your model is very flexible, how will employees communicate their work schedules and location?
Create a level playing field
One of the biggest challenges of a hybrid work environment is two cultures emerging: one in which in-person workers dominate, and the remote workers feel like second class citizens. Leaders gravitate to people they know and trust, so it’s natural that better assignments and opportunities might go to onsite workers. Some ideas for giving everyone a fair shake: First, leaders can model their support of remote work by working from home occasionally. If they are always in the office, they signal that being remote is not good enough for success. Second, pay attention to how you are communicating. For example, plan conference and video calls to allow input from everyone, no matter where they are working. Third, host some company events virtually and be sure to celebrate, praise and reward individuals across the board at these gatherings. Finally, make sure career paths for remote workers are equitable to those who are in-person.
Train managers to lead differently
Managing in a hybrid world takes a new mindset and often a new skill set from managing in person. Emotional intelligence and a knack for inspiring others become more important with less face-to-face interaction. Advise your managers to be flexible and attuned to the individual needs and motivations of team members. They’ll also need to be more present, more reliable and responsive than ever before. It’s also helpful for them to encourage their staff to become more agile and autonomous, and to facilitate interactions among the team.
Managers should also be mindful of the type, extent and method of communication they use. For example, employees might benefit from weekly one-on-one meetings with daily fifteen-minute team meetings to foster connections and set priorities. As far as where and how to communicate, know that long-term planning, discussions of a personal nature and conversations about critical issues are best done in person.
Reimagine the worksite
Office design can heavily influence how people work. If numerous employees will be working remotely a significant portion of time, you might want to replace dedicated offices with ‘hot desking.’ Here, employees can come into the workplace, find a desk, plug in and get to work. You might consider large tables that can accommodate multiple employees at once, providing opportunities for everyone to strengthen social ties. Private offices that can be booked in advance will be important for private conversations and one-on-one meetings. A few other must haves: dedicated power outlets for each laptop, access to shared printers, team meeting rooms and areas for private phone calls. Don’t forget to add secure areas where employees can store their personal belongings.
As you reassess where people work, now is also the time to take stock of what type of employees are essential to the business, from a skills, talent and personality perspective. If support personnel will be primarily offsite, for example, is it better to outsource them rather than have full-time employees? Contracting out certain functions can bring you more experienced talent without the overhead costs and management time required by permanent staff.
If you are thinking about a hybrid model and need assistance, NEMR Total HR professionals can advise you on creating and implementing policies. Outsourcing HR and payroll functions to an advisor like NEMR is a smart move, Chat Live with us to learn more or Email Us.