3 ways to make the hybrid working model work for everyone
Over the past two years, the workplace has shifted from forced remote work to experimenting with hybrid environments, and these changing patterns will only continue as organizations find their ideal workplace model. Although business continuity is always a priority, one thing is certain: organizations must focus on the satisfaction of their employees. Recent research suggests that requiring employees to return abruptly and completely to the office will not achieve this. In fact, a recent survey by the ADP Research Institute found that 64% of workers said they would look for a new job if asked to return to the office full-time. The threat is real too. In March alone, 4.5 million American workers quit or changed jobs. The figures show it, but so do the conversations. Our recruitment team has found that more and more candidates are looking for other jobs because their employers are forcing them back into their jobs.
Of course, employees want to find their colleagues, but they also want the autonomy to decide when and how they do so. The ability to be more flexible, spend time with loved ones, and work from a location that best suits the individual has allowed employees to thrive. If this is taken away from them without their say, they will look for work elsewhere. To turn the tide on quits and keep business running smoothly, organizations need to be more strategic with their hybrid working models, making sure it works for everyone.
Here are three ways leaders can make a hybrid working model work perfectly:
Think of the office as the new “offsite”
We’ve all lost money on unused office space over the past few years, but don’t use the lifting of restrictions as an excuse to start catching up right away. While remote work has been forced upon us in days or even weeks, getting employees back to the office is expected to take months or even years. Sudden change will scare employees away, and some may not even be in a situation where they can come back every day.
Rather than reverting to physical office processes, like the 8-5 cubicle grind, get creative. Start thinking of the office as the new offsite and reinvent in-person collaboration to make the most of time together. The office can be seen and enjoyed as a meeting place for collaboration (QBR), recognition (award ceremonies), etc. For example, we recently welcomed our Wrikers back to the office with a Global Office Collaboration Day where they were able to attend our monthly general meeting, have lunch with colleagues, and chat with teammates. It was inspiring to see photos from the day shared on Slack, and the short-lived engagement relieved us of any unnecessary stress of returning to the office.
By transforming the office into the new “offsite”, you’ll make it easier for employees to get back to work in the office and create a fun space for them to engage and collaborate with colleagues old and new. Just be sure to select the activity wisely and make sure it’s a memorable experience that will keep employees coming back.
Building Hybrid Habits
We are all creatures of habit. Before the pandemic, we used to hop into a conference room to brainstorm on the fly or stop by a colleague’s office to ask questions about a project. These were daily habits that kept the work going, and it was frustrating if we had to work apart from our teams. Now it’s frustrating to go back to the office to work with our teams because we know the truth about remote working – it actually works in most cases. Breaking the habits we’ve formed over the past few years of connecting with teams through Slack groups and Zoom calls is going to be tough. But if we want hybrid working to work, we have to create new habits.
Team leaders, I’m looking at you. What can you do to motivate your team to come together and energize it?
Consider where your employees are. You’ve probably tapped into a larger talent pool and hired remote workers in recent years. Are there groups of teammates in certain areas? If so, how can you encourage them to come together? How about a structured prospecting day for a sales team followed by happy hour? Or bring your development team together in the same room to start and end an agile sprint? By understanding where the teams and work are that benefit most from facetime, you can start creating touchpoints that will one day become their new normal.
It takes leadership, creativity, and consistency to create new habits for the hybrid environment, but it will pay off with a re-energized team that has less Zoom fatigue.
Collect everything, no matter where they are
Leaders also need to think about creating a technology-efficient hybrid environment. For example, by deploying a shared digital workspace, work can be done in one place. Yes, it’s been pointed out time and time again, but it’s time we made it a reality. Employees need a standard, transparent environment where teams have equal access to applications and information.
How it works? Leverage work management software that incorporates all the tools your teams love, such as smart technologies that enable real-time communication (ie Zoom, Slack), collaboration (ie. i.e. Miro, Google Suite, Microsoft Teams) and Creation (i.e. Adobe, MediaValet, Bynder and Tenovos).
Look at tools that enable automated workflows, enable cross-functional collaboration, and measure an employee’s success not by the number of hours worked, but by their contribution to agreed-upon goals. These solutions can provide transparency across an organization, allowing teams to share information and ensure everyone is on the same page, whether they’re working from a corporate office or their home office.
For organizations and employees to be resilient (and happy) in the age of hybrid working, they must provide the best possible experience while fostering the collaborative and flexible culture that today’s employees expect. Keep strict office policies and closed, siled work styles firmly in the past. Approaches that create an environment of transparency, openness and employee empowerment should be the norm as we navigate this new world of work.