The pressure to deliver an effective hybrid work model is the latest in a series of unprecedented challenges HR has faced since start of the pandemic. Employees today have new expectations about their right to work from home entirely or, at a minimum, in a hybrid work environment.
The virus has broken through cultural and technological barriers that prevented remote work in the past, setting in motion a structural shift in where work takes place, at least for some people.McKinsey & Company
The labor shortage sharpens the high stakes to deliver against those expectations, as it can impact a company’s ability to both attract new employees and retain existing ones. Research conducted by Gartner shows that employers could lose talent by not getting this right. A full “67 percent of employees agree that their expectations for working flexibly have increased since the pandemic, and 55 percent agree that whether or not they can work flexibly will impact whether they will stay at their organization.”
Flexible Work Model’s Impact on Performance
There’s little question that a flexible work model gives employees the ability to achieve better work/life balance, but did you know that it also impacts performance? Another Gartner survey found that organizations with flexible work models are nearly three times more likely to see high employee performance.
How to Structure Your Hybrid Model
All of these trends make offering a hybrid work model an imperative that companies must deliver on to remain competitive. But, the big question lies in the “how.” A one-size-fits all approach is not the answer. There shouldn’t be a blanket approach that allows every employee in every role to work the same number of days in the office vs. at home. The rationale behind this is that some functions require being in the office more than others.
The most effective way is to create a work schedule based on how often each role needs to be physically present in the office in order to effectively deliver on the job function. Examples help bring this to life. An office manager needs to be physically present in the office to effectively support staff and keep administrative functions running smoothly. Functions like customer support, however, typically can work remotely as they primarily need a phone and a computer to do their job. All functions need some degree of regular, in-person interactions with management and colleagues. While Zoom calls are fast and efficient, they don’t replace in-person meetings or hallway conversations. All of those factors need to be carefully weighed in order to develop an effective work schedule.
Communications is Key
As you roll out your hybrid model, it’s essential to clearly communicate how it works and why, and provide a forum for questions and discussions. You’ll need to explain the rationale behind the work schedule, so people don’t think the company is offering something that isn’t equitable. Make rules of the road clear and, if employees are now sharing workspaces, give best practices on how to do that, as well as expectations for employees who are working remotely.
In addition to communicating all of this in writing, hold either companywide or team meetings to explain the work schedule and rationale behind it so employees who need to be in the office understand the connection between their presence in the office and carrying out the responsibilities of their job function.
Small Benefits with Big Results
As you roll out this new model, consider infusing new benefits and rewards into the plan. Research proves that smaller rewards can have a big impact on employee engagement. Offering rewards can go a long way to make employees who need to be in the office more often feel appreciated. For example, you could have a thank you package waiting when employees start back up in the office. Or, on an ongoing basis send flowers to brighten employees’ individual office spaces. Offer lunch on Fridays to bring employees together and reignite a sense of community in the office. These are just a few ideas. There are countless creative ways to offer reasonably priced gifts and perks that elevate morale.
Taylor HR: Here to Help
As your company prepares for this new normal, consider getting support from HR experts who can help you successfully navigate through this time of change. As an outsourced HR company dedicated to supporting small businesses, we can operate seamlessly as your HR department, answering all of your HR needs or we can assist on an as needed basis for HR guidance in these changing times. Leveraging our deep expertise, we’ll help you develop a highly effective hybrid work model that strikes the right balance of providing the flexibility today’s employees demand, while keeping your business operating efficiently and smoothly. For more about our services, read here.