As the months of 2021 slip away, plenty of employers and employees have adapted to the so-called new normal. But as we move more into a hopefully post Covid world, many leaders, employees, and job seekers are wondering what office-life will look like in the months and years to come. After relying on a remote workforce for more than a year, many businesses are eager to have everyone back in the office. At the same time, many others are considering different types of hybrid work models.
Options for your business
Everyone took to remote work differently. Some employees felt disconnected from their teammates and struggled with being unable to pop into other people’s offices when in need of help or direction. Others in the workforce thrived in the off-centric remote working world with its cut-down on commute times and increased time with family.
These competing perspectives and interests can pose potential obstacles for business owners as they determine what is best for their companies, leading a wide swath of leaders to settle on different types of office-centric days per week hybrid models. Fully flexible or remote-friendly models have become a selling point in job postings. Careful consideration is needed to properly take into account workforce and workflow needs.
Happy staff, happy boss?
Every business owner should want to set their employees up for success as that is a key for the ultimate success of their company. Striking the right balance between the desires of different employees, organizational structures, and job demands is a major aspect of that success. If you are considering hybrid work models, remember that one size does not fit all. Different positions, people, and business types have different needs.
To the extent that you choose to return to a traditional workweek and a fully in-office environment, you should be mindful of a few fundamental things. First, your employees may have completely different health safety expectations, and in a lot of ways, rightfully so. These may well be on top of any new safety rules and regulations that you have to follow. Second, the workforce has to some extent evolved from the traditional workplace environment. This may present some level of objection or even retention issues with your employees. You must be prepared to meet those objections and expectations head on, and a lot of times with creative solutions. Third, and on a related point, your business is now competing with other businesses that have embraced the remote or hybrid work modes. You have to be ready and willing to compete with programs and incentives that serve as appropriate substitutes.
On the other hand, if you choose to go the fully remote or hybrid route, it’s important that you assure that you and your team are equipped not only with the necessary tools, but also that you adopt protocols to promote culture and maximize productivity. Aside from setting up proper communication tools, document sharing, and secure communications and connections to productivity apps, a hybrid or remote work environment requires serious effort by your leadership team to eliminate isolation and fragmentation which in turn lower engagement and productivity.
For example, it is important that your teams are video conferencing consistently and that home office setups are conducive to a productive workday. Managers should be required to be inclusive and avoid favoring some team members over others when it comes to staying in contact. Leadership should also be encouraged to use virtual breakrooms, host approved team building events, and create more humanized communications. Flexible, remote, and in-person work models can all have benefits and detractions. Having an in-depth understanding of the varying needs of employee positions, workflows, and operations is the key.