No shoes, no slacks, no problem. The flexibility of remote work has become a workplace staple over the last two years. It turns out that more than half of Americans want to continue working from home — even post-pandemic.
Yet there’s still a lurking desire to bring employees back to the office, which explains why hybrid work has become so popular. This compromise between Team Work-from-Home and Team Onsite gives people the flexibility to work both remotely and from the office.
But this arrangement sparks a lot of questions for business leaders: How will going hybrid impact the bottom line? How will it affect our ability to deliver for our customers? How much flexibility is needed? How are we supposed to onboard remote employees? How can we maintain our corporate culture if we’re not sharing space?
Unfortunately, there are no easy answers. Every organization contains different individuals with different experiences and expectations.
Different Ways for Different Days
One of the easiest ways to transition to a hybrid schedule is to assign different types of activities for the days employees are in the office versus the days they’re remote. If you’re asking employees to come into the office, make sure they’re maximizing the value of being there (and making it worth the commute and childcare considerations).
Office time should be dedicated to collaboration sessions, employee training and important events. This way, everyone’s able to make the most of the shared space. Doing so will also allow you to optimize the time spent at home. Use WFH days for quiet work, data analysis and less collaborative video meetings. The office still has a purpose; it’s just a bit different than it was a few years ago.
Recruitment and Retention
Ask any manager with an open position these days, and they’ll tell you the same thing: hiring is hard right now. The whole WFH experiment that we’ve lived through the last two years has changed employee expectations for how we should be allowed to work. Allowing remote work and flexible schedules may even help you attract quality candidates.
The truth is, the general population has become incredibly comfortable with remote interactions — not just comfortable in their sweatpants, but with the technology, too. As a matter of fact, more than 40 percent of U.S. employees said they would start looking for another job or quit immediately if ordered to return to the office full time. Demanding a return to the office might result in a mass resignation.
Culture and Technology
It can feel like culture and technology are mutually exclusive; you’re either bonding in the office, or you’re isolated behind a computer screen. But that doesn’t have to be the case! At the end of the day, technology is ultimately what makes hybrid work possible. It allows people to tune in from various locations to communicate and collaborate with their teams.
However, there is a caveat to this! If you’re not vigilant about the ways that your communication platform can create more work — with 24/7 responses, distracting group chats and unrealistic expectations — you can actually cause more harm than good. Don’t stress out your employees, waste their time or expect them to be responsive at all hours of the day.
Getting Hybrid Right
When working on a hybrid approach, you should focus on balancing three things: your customers, your employees and the business.
You’re looking for the sweet spot in which you’re able to deliver on all your commitments, attract and retain talent and also invest in your culture. The best thing you can do is be open and honest with your staff. Invite them into the conversation. The more transparency and communication, the better.
It’s time to stop thinking about how to return to the past, and start looking into the future.