Companies that refuse to be flexible in their work models, or that excel at managing their flexibility, could be doomed to failure. It may sound harsh, but it is the reality of today’s business environment.
As human resources and line managers – as well as workers themselves – have been talking for years about the importance of flexibility and work-life balance, the concept has taken on new meaning and a new level of importance. importance since the pandemic forced an upheaval in the way people work.
For many organizations, the concept of hybrid work is here to stay. The key to success with this model is to effectively manage the flexible workplace to enable the company and its employees to thrive.
Today, many companies are still adjusting to returning employees to the office as more people get vaccinated and feel comfortable working with others again. Management is learning the need to give employees the option to work at head office when they need to or to work remotely.
Suppose they do not offer flexibility and threaten to fire employees who do not work full time at headquarters. In this case, they risk losing vital skills and experience at a time when a good workforce becomes more difficult (and expensive) to find. Even if employees stick around, their productivity is likely to decline along with their job satisfaction. And attracting talent to a company that lacks flexibility in the workplace will be extremely difficult.
Recent surveys show that employees are back to office in greater numbers now, mostly white collar workers. This development is largely a good thing as most people don’t want to work strictly from home; they want options. The State of the Gallup Workforce The study provided good reasons for employers to consider bringing remote workers back to the office in a hybrid fashion. The study surveyed more than 9,000 American workers and found that 54% of employees who work at least part of the time remotely say they would ideally like to split their time between work from home and the office. Not having to travel, the flexibility to balance work and personal obligations, and improved well-being are the main reasons for preferring remote work.
GOOD HYBRID WORK PRACTICES
One of the best practices for managing flexibility in the workplace is allowing employees to communicate and collaborate. People want to feel like they are part of the team, no matter where they work.
Giving people access to information about where their colleagues are working on any given day (or even part of a day) can streamline communications, reduce misunderstandings, and help increase productivity.
Online meetings have been a vital part of the Work from Home (WFH) model, enabling continued collaboration even during a time of turmoil in the workplace. But in the hybrid working model, such meetings only run smoothly if everyone who needs to attend can attend. Organizations should ensure that their collaboration technology is set up so that key participants can access and contribute to the meeting when it starts.
While management has much more control over corporate facilities than remote employee workspaces, they also need to make sure people have what they need to work from home. This includes devices, software, networking, security and other components, as well as services to help people set up and maintain their home IT infrastructure.
Getting regular feedback from employees is also crucial for success in this new work environment. Management needs to know what people think about working in the company office, how many days of the week they would prefer to work there or remotely, and how comfortable they are attending meetings in person.
Perhaps more importantly, managers should ask for feedback on what is working well and what is not. Then they should use employee feedback to make improvements where possible. This could be due to the current office setup, security protocols, equipment provided to remote workers, workplace behavior policies, or other things.
Either way, the sentiments of the workforce are key to getting flexible work. Armed with real action in the workplace, organizations can make decisions that result in increased employee retention and increased productivity.
An additional good practice that management should not overlook is training. Much of this flexible working model is still new to everyone. Employees may need to learn new skills, new processes and new technologies. By investing in quality training programs, companies can avoid later problems that can lead to lost productivity or abrupt quits.
And senior executives should not be exempt from these apprenticeship programs. Arguably, they need it more than anyone else, as people will expect them to take the initiative to function well in this new environment.
The pandemic has changed the way people think about work. The so-called “big resignation” partly reflects how people feel about being forced to return to office. Executives need to understand the idea that hybrid and flexible work models are here to stay.
Carl Oliveri is Robin’s CRO, the first work platform that puts people before places.