Over the past two years, the workplace has evolved from forced remote work to experimentation with hybrid environments, and these variable patterns will only continue as companies work out their ideal workplace models. While business continuity is still on the mind, one thing is for sure – companies must focus on keeping employees happy. Recent research suggests that the sudden and complete return of employees to office will not accomplish what it is supposed to do. In fact, a recent survey by the ADP Research Institute found that 64% of employees said they would look for a new job if asked to return to the office full time. The threat is real. In March alone, 4.5 million American workers quit or changed their jobs. The number shows it but so does the conversation. Our recruiting team has noticed that more and more applicants are looking for other jobs because their employers are forcing them to return to their offices.
Of course, employees want to go back together with their colleagues, but they also want autonomy to decide when and how to do it. The ability to be more flexible, to spend time with loved ones, and to work from a place that is best suited for the individual has seen employees improve. If taken away from them without their consent, they will look for work elsewhere. To reverse the path of resignation and keep the business running smoothly, companies must be more tactful with their hybrid work models, ensuring that it works for everyone.
Here are three ways leaders can swim a hybrid work model:
Think of the office as the new “offsite”
We’ve all lost money for unused office space over the last few years, but don’t use the limitations as an excuse to start making it right now. Although remote work was forced on us from a few days to a week, it would take months to years to welcome staff back to the office. A sudden change will scare employees, and some may not even be in a situation where they can come back every day.
Get creative, instead of restoring physical office processes like 8-5 cubicle grind. Start thinking of the office as a new offsite and innovate personal collaboration to get the most out of the time spent together. The office can be viewed and valued as a meeting place for collaboration (QBR), recognition (awards ceremony) and much more. For example, we recently welcomed our writers to the office with Global In-Office Collaboration Day where they can sit in on our monthly all-hand meetings, enjoy lunch with colleagues, and meet their peers. It was inspiring to see the photos of the day shared on Slack and the short-term commitment removed the unnecessary stress of returning to the office from our shoulders.
By turning the office into a new “offsite”, you will be able to return employees to the office-interior work and create a fun place for them to engage and collaborate with old and new coworkers. Just make sure to select the activity wisely and make sure it is a memorable experience that comes back to the employees.
Develop hybrid habits
We are all creatures of habit. Before the epidemic, we were accustomed to stopping at a colleague’s cubicle to fly to a conference room for intelligence or to ask about a project. These were daily routines that kept the work going, and it was frustrating to have to work separately from our team. Now, it’s frustrating to go back to the office to work with our team because we know the truth about remote work – it actually works in most cases. The habit we’ve built up over the last few years to connect with teams through slack huddles and zoom calls is going to be hard to break. But if we want to do hybrid work, we have to develop new habits.
Team leader, I’m looking at you. What can you do to bring your team together and inspire them?
Consider where your employees are located. You’ve probably hired a larger talent pool and remote staff over the last few years. Do peers have clusters in specific areas? If so, how can you encourage them to come together? How about a structured prospect day for a sales team with Happy Hour following? Or assembling your development team in the same room to start and finish a quick sprint? By understanding where the teams are located and the work that benefits the most from FaceTime, you can start creating touchpoints that will one day become their new normal.
Creating new habits for a hybrid environment takes leadership, creativity and perseverance, but it will also reward a re-energized team with less zoom fatigue.
Bring it together, no matter where they are
Leaders also need to think about creating an effective hybrid environment from a technology perspective. For example, by setting up a shared digital workspace, all work can be done in one place. Yes, it has been emphasized many times, but it is time to make it a reality. Employees need an ideal and transparent environment where teams have equal access to applications and information.
How does it work? Use job management software that integrates all of your team’s preferred tools, such as intelligent technology that enables real-time communication (e.g., Zoom, Slack), collaboration (eg, Miro, Google Suite, Microsoft Team) and creation (e.g., Adobe) , MediaValet, Bynder, and Tenovos).
Look for tools that allow for automated workflow, enable cross-functional collaboration, and measure an employee’s success not by how many hours they work but by their contribution to agreed goals. These solutions can ensure transparency across an organization, enable parties to share information and ensure that everyone is on the same page regardless of whether they are working from the corporate office or their home office.
In order for organizations and employees to be resilient (and happy) in the age of hybrid work, they need to provide the best possible experience while building a collaborative, flexible culture that today’s employees have come to expect. Strictly keep the strict policy of the office in the past and the style of closed, silent work. The methods of creating an environment of transparency, openness and employee empowerment should be the norm in this new world of our work.