After two very long years, this March we saw the return to the office for many and a glimpse of the hybrid working model.
Some were counting down the days until they could reconnect with their colleagues face to face. Yet others have been reluctant to give up the flexibility they’ve become accustomed to whilst from working from home…
So far we’ve been finding this re-adjustment hard. And this shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. Because change is hard. We’re used to working one way and now we’re being asked to change again and return to an environment, where there are still lots of unknowns.
It’s not as simple as saying “we’re just going back to the way things were”. Because it’s not the same. We, and everything around us is different now. And no one wants to go back.
For one, people’s priorities have shifted. Most want the ability to work from both home and in the office going forward.
So one of the biggest challenges facing organisations right now is determining what their future working model looks like and how to make it succeed. Something I’m talking to a lot of businesses about and will be covering in my next webinar.
A small number of organisations have said that all workers will return to the office Monday to Friday 9-5 or that they’re now fully remote. Yet the majority are moving towards a hybrid working environment.
Every option presents both pros and cons. And regardless of which is chosen, there are important things to consider if we want our teams to thrive!
Which working model is best?
Is it 40+ hours per week in the office? The work anywhere model but with set times? Or working anywhere anytime?
Well, it depends.
We’ve shown that working remotely can be both productive and engaging. We have fewer distractions*, less commute time, and if your organisation manages you according to outputs then they should know this too. But if you need further proof, studies have also shown this link(Forbes, 2020)(CultureAmp, 2021).
However, working remotely has seen wellbeing decrease for some. Those who perhaps weren’t able to establish solid boundaries between their home and work life, those managing remote learning or those missing the connection and collaboration with their colleagues.
The effectiveness of the model may also vary depending on the type of role, the tasks and responsibilities of the job, and the industry.
But not offering flexibility may inhibit the ability to retain and attract talent.
The model chosen must ensure that wellbeing is supported and engagement is prioritised so performance remains or improves.
I consider hybrid as best-practice – people have the flexibility to work from home yet gain the benefits from some time in the office too. Research also suggests that we reach peak engagement and burnout is lowest when we spend 40-60% of time working remotely (Gallup, 2020). So hybrid has my vote!
What are we loving about the office?
What has been a struggle?
So what actions need to be taken?
Setting up for a hybrid environment can be successful if planned and managed well.
It’s a good idea initially to find out what your employees need to deliver their best work, taking into account what went well and what didn’t over the past two years. It would be very wrong to assume or tell without consultation because in some ways, you’re defining what the lives of your workers will look life going forward. When they’re included, people will feel less anxious about what’s to come and they’re more likely to be more engaged and satisfied (McKinsey, 2021).
Organisations should also be thinking about:
Right now, organisations have a rare opportunity to design the way work looks going forward.
People and performance will thrive when the environment created is one where trust, safety, connection and belonging prevail!