There may appear to be three possibilities for leaders figuring out the post-pandemic workplace: back to the office, entirely remote, or hybrid. However, “hybrid” is not a well-defined term in reality. Approximately half of employees want to work only on-site or only remotely. The rest are looking for something in the middle.
Despite this, remote work has become more prevalent and popular as a result of the epidemic and new technology that have made working from anywhere in the world simpler. Many organizations now allow employees to work remotely for a few days or allow select teammates to work remotely full-time while others remain on-site.
Now that more companies are adopting this hybrid remote work model because it’s the model many companies are adopting after a year of remote work. Team leaders must tailor their management techniques to the unique characteristics of these teams in order for their businesses to thrive and grow.
However, there is no clear definition of “hybrid” among employees who like it. It implies going to work most of the time for some and hardly ever for others. The lesson here is that now is not the time to use general “best practices” for hybrid work arrangements or a mainstream hybrid model. When developing a hybrid work plan, the worst error leaders can make is choosing a standard approach. So let’s run through a couple of factors that could help to make a better decision.
1. What will our strategy be if we listen to our employees?
Another mistake that some leaders make is relying solely on their gut instinct when it comes to hybrid work. This is troublesome because if leaders pursue a strategy that their employees do not want, they risk alienating them. While leaders cannot hope to satisfy everyone, if they do not recognize and address common problems and expectations, they will appear out of touch with their employees.
To gather employees’ thoughts on returning to work, leaders need unambiguous listening posts, such as pulse surveys. The correct feedback channels will reveal to executives what employees want, need, and are most afraid of. In the end, surveys do not solve problems; rather, they stimulate the correct types of discussions.
2. What factors influence the availability of flexible time in our company?
The necessity for companies to defend the benefits of in-person employment is one of the most significant developments in the post-pandemic workplace. This is referred to as your “workplace value proposition.” Rather of forcing employees to work in the office, managers should ensure that their workplace provides a compelling draw for people, such as a welcome environment for group identity formation, connection building, project collaboration, and brainstorming.
Furthermore, executives should be able to explain why flexible time is beneficial to the company. By eliminating commuting and allowing for focused individual work without distractions, time away from the office can enhance productivity. It can also improve employee happiness by allowing them to save money, exercise more frequently, follow a personal interest, or look after family members.
3. Will we introduce it gradually or all at once?
Although it may seem simple to choose a day on the calendar and declare, “Everyone returns to work on this day,” leaders must consider a variety of considerations. Differences in geography and work responsibilities, for example, can influence how, when, and why people return. Furthermore, many businesses are returning to a drastically different economy and market. This will almost certainly result in numerous bumps, pauses, and false starts along the route.
The most effective leaders take an exploratory, adaptable approach. Workplaces may not know what “returning to work” looks like or means for 12 to 24 months, so leaders must commit to learning and evolving to suit workers’ needs.
That is, executives should tell staff that they are all in this together, and that the current improvements may not last. Leaders that deliver this passionate, open message demonstrate that they care about their employees’ well-being.
4. How will our managers assist our leaders in implementing the necessary changes?
Remote work was not “business as usual” when the pandemic was at its peak. Even if they had no prior expertise, managers had to learn how to manage remotely. New questions about remote work are now being raised: How can we ensure that employees have a consistent experience in both virtual and physical environments? How can we ensure that remote workers have a sense of belonging in their teams? How can we ensure that performance and promotions are equitable independent of attendance in the office?
Leaders should concentrate on training and developing managers as they seek answers to these questions. Managers will be in charge of navigating and implementing remote work decisions, and their approach will have an impact on team engagement and performance.
Even when the “new normal” is constantly changing and there are no clear-cut norms, well-equipped managers will have the confidence and abilities they need to set clear standards and have engaging interactions.
5. How will we know what is successful?
To be successful, your hybrid work strategy must benefit your company. However, defining success, like many aspects of company culture, may be difficult. Employee contentment with the policy may not be the best indicator, and productivity in particular roles can be difficult to assess. Employee engagement, when combined with hard expenses, can be an excellent indicator of a range of business outcomes, including profitability, retention, and performance.
You won’t know if your hybrid strategy is working six months from now unless you build a framework for defining success. Not only will the appropriate data indicate what’s working and what isn’t, but it will also provide possibilities to alter and optimize your strategy.
Even the most advanced and forward-thinking businesses haven’t quite figured out what works. And it’s highly likely that your one-of-a-kind organization’s performance will be mainly defined by its unique industry, demographics, talent pool, culture, and consumer expectations. Correct now, the best thing leaders can do is ask the right questions and answer them with the needs of their business in mind.
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