A new study by Pew Research shows why it is important for companies to be successful at hybrid work. As work reopens, most employees prefer working from home, especially women. The impetus for working from home has shifted considerably since 2020. Today, more workers say they are doing this by choice rather than necessity.
According to Pew Research, 61 percent now say they are choosing not to go into their workplace among those who have a workplace outside of their home. Earlier in the pandemic, just the opposite was true: 36 percent said they chose to work from home. In essence, being successful at hybrid work is no longer an exception, but it’s becoming necessary for employers.
Why are companies clinging to an outdated work environment?
During the two years of the pandemic, productivity didn’t suffer, but turnover certainly did. According to a PwC pulse survey, 88% of executives surveyed said their company is experiencing higher turnover than normal. For employees looking for new opportunities, schedule flexibility, expanded benefits, and compensation tend to be the top factors in their decision-making.
While only 22% of employees want an all in-person work environment, many executives are more excited about the possibility of a return, looking forward to face-to-face interaction and the ability to build an equitable corporate culture more effectively.
However, the success of remote work has certainly ushered in a new era that business leaders cannot deny. There’s an understanding that to successfully execute, organizations need to provide a positive employee experience that reflects the needs of today’s talent. That includes figuring out a hybrid work model that aligns to the uniqueness of the business.
Think Strategically About Being Successful with Hybrid Work.
As companies struggle to hire and retain workers, it is time to get strategic about being successful with hybrid work. Think of hybrid work as an excellent strategy to accelerate hiring and retention, improve productivity and innovation, and reduce the cost of wasted office space — costs that executives can redirect to strategic business priorities.
It is important to remember that transitioning from remote to hybrid work is a significant business strategy shift. Every strategy shift is a cultural change effort. The successful change involves:
- Having a burning platform for the change.
- Articulating a strategy.
- Building support for implementation.
- Collecting employee and manager feedback and making changes
- Celebrating early wins
Here are seven steps to continuously improve your hybrid work planning, keep up with the phases of Covid-19, and move to the Future of Work:
- Check-in with your employees and managers about what they did and did not like about working remotely during the pandemic. Incorporate their feedback into your new hybrid work model. You can use team sensing sessions or pulse surveys.
- Research shows that it is good to have home-based employees come into the office one or two days a week to align with its culture and strategies and maintain relationships. To get started, identify who can work remotely three to four days a week based on their job duties. If most of their work is conducted through the computer and most communications can be handled by text, email, collaboration tools, and video conferencing, they can work from home. Usually, employees are required to come into the office for staff meetings, special project meetings, and one-on-one meetings at least one day a week. They will no longer have dedicated personal office space in the office, but touch-down space — such as you see in airports — to go online when they need to.
- Don’t force remote work on those employees who want to return to the office four to five days a week. Leave it to an employee choice. These employees are to be allowed to keep their personal office space. Employees tied to research facilities, manufacturing, retail customer service, and warehousing likely need to come to the workplace.
- Each department and team should work with their employees to establish new teamwork and decision-making norms for hybrid working. It is good to begin this work with a template and alter it based on department needs (such as Finance or Research & Development) and by the team. At the team level, these norms need to include agreements for communication norms, which meetings are to be face-to-face instead of virtual, file storage, the work schedules for each employee, and decision making.
- Review your digital technology to support hybrid working and to provide employees with the digital experience they want from work. In addition to broadband availability, collaboration platforms such as Slack and Teams, and file server space, this ought to include chatbots to answer commonly asked questions (such as MeBeBot) and digital learning platforms.
- For new and younger workers who need coaching and training, develop a calendar for how much time they will spend in the office to learn from mentors, managers, and peers. When they reach defined competence levels, they can switch to a hybrid working model.
- Following the above plan, determine how much dedicated personal office space you need to retain and convert the rest to more meeting rooms with excellent video conferencing equipment, touch-down spaces, and training rooms. The remaining space can be sold off or sub-leased. You will find yourself saving a small fortune that can be used to fund critical business strategies.
Establish measures to see that you build upon your productivity gains during the COVID-19 lockdown and improve employee morale and engagement. These measures should include ensuring your home-based employees are still getting the mentoring and development needed to advance their careers and retain them — equal to in-office employees. The pandemic has changed what workers want from their employers; hybrid work tops the list. Executives need to change their thinking on the best ways to attract and retain workers during a labor shortage. In addition, the successful transition to hybrid work will cut costs, improve productivity, and avoid any future havoc caused by Covid-19. Hybrid working technology solutions and redesigning offices for collaboration is here to stay. The companies that rise to this challenge will be the winners.
MeBeBot’s Intelligent Assistant seamlessly installs as an app in Teams, Slack, or web portals to provide employees with instant automated answers to global HR, IT, and Ops FAQS, real-time usage Dashboards, Push Messaging, and custom Pulse Surveys, generating instant employee feedback on of-the-moment questions. MeBeBot’s “one-stop bot” is trusted by leading organizations to elevate the employee experience so work can be more meaningful and valuable.
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