It’s been over two years since the last “normal” week of work for millions of workers around the country. In March 2020, employees were sent home with laptops, a second monitor if they were lucky, and told they’d be back in two weeks. Fast forward to September 2022, and the world in which we work looks completely different, including a hybrid workforce model.
At its core, the COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped the way that we integrate work into our daily lives, and for many, encouraged us to reevaluate priorities. For some, nothing has changed and they still long for the traditional work environment that existed pre-March 2020, but for many, they have seen a more flexible way of working.
As of March 2022, Gallup reported that half of the U.S. full-time workforce, or 60 million workers, felt that they could perform their current job remotely while working from home. Of these “remote-capable employees,” 90% of them also reported that they would prefer some degree of remote-work flexibility moving forward.
If an employee is forced to be fully on-site against their wishes, Gallup also indicated that that employee would suffer from significantly lower engagement, lower well-being, and be at risk for higher intent to leave as well as higher levels of burnout. Forcing employees to be fully on-site after they’ve proven they can do their jobs remotely is akin to trying to put the shaving cream back inside the can. The solution many companies have turned to in this new working environment is the hybrid approach where employees are able to work remotely part of the time while coming into the office on certain days. This approach is seen as a compromise between the company and the employees, the logistics of implementing this strategy while maintaining employee engagement and culture can prove tricky. Below are five tips to keep in mind while establishing a hybrid work schedule.
Communicate, communicate, and communicate some more. It is more important than ever to over-communicate with your employees as you navigate through this transition. Even if you haven’t figured out all of the answers just yet, be sure that you aren’t keeping your employees in the dark. With people in different places, some in the office, some at home, it’s a good opportunity to increase internal communication strategies so that those who are not in the office are still receiving all of the same information as those who are on-site.
Perhaps employers’ biggest fear is the lack of connection that could result from a hybrid work approach. This can be counteracted with intention. The hybrid model should not just be an afterthought, but should also be fully embedded at every point of the employee lifecycle – from onboarding to exit interview.
One of the most appealing aspects of remote work is the flexibility that it provides so when designing what your hybrid model will look like, it’s important to empower managers and department heads to individualize policies as needed. What works for one team may not work for another. By creating a framework for the policy while still allowing customization, teams are better able to shape strategies around productivity rather than policy compliance.
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Everyone is different and what they need in order to be successful will vary. While it’s often easier to make a personal connection in the office with casual deskside chats, it’s incumbent upon managers to also have one-on-one check-ins with remote or hybrid employees. When managers engage with their team in a personalized way that’s tailored to them, it results in a more authentic and genuine connection, thereby strengthening the employee’s bond to the
When everyone is in the office all day, every day, it’s easy to gauge things like morale in an informal way, but when people are staggered in the office, or not in the office at all, an annual employee questionnaire is no longer going to be the most accurate gauge for how your team is feeling day-to-day. Regular, simple (even one question) surveys will quickly and succinctly help you get a read on how your employees are feeling about a range of topics. Afterall, you can’t fix an issue that you don’t know about.