Do you think your team members would like to work in the office, work from home, or work hybrid?
There are no easy solutions.
Over 70 percent of workers want flexible remote work options to continue, while over 65 percent are craving more in-person time with their teams.
We must do hybrid right to build team care and resilience, in these uncertain and volatile times. The pandemic has offered a once in a generation opportunity to reinvent how we work. It is certainly not one size fits all.
In this excellent HBR article it asks us to consider a matrix with Time on one axis and Place of work on another.
For 10 years Lynda Gratton has led the Future of Work consortium. It is her contention that when designing flexible work arrangements, we need to focus on individual human concerns, not just institutional ones.
To make this transition successfully companies to approach the problem from four different perspectives:
- Jobs and tasks
- Employee preferences
- Projects and workflows
- Inclusion and fairness
I would suggest that Inclusion and Fairness should be #1 because if this does not occur it would be challenging to do the remaining 3 effectively. These 4 factors help us to understand how we can shape work practices to best suit our employees.
1. JOBS AND TASKS – for an actuary, for example – a critical driver for productivity is focus – so the ability to be able to work for 3 hours without interruption is critical (they can work from home or office – at 7am or midnight). For a team manager a critical driver of productivity is coordination (this involves working with many people so times that match with others is important) – and sometimes being in the same room can be a big benefit.
2. EMPLOYEE PREFERENCES – Our capacity to operate at peak productivity and performance varies dramatically according to our personal preferences. So, in designing hybrid work, consider the preferences of your employees—and enable others to understand and accommodate those preferences.
Imagine, for example, two strategic planners who hold the same job at the same company, with focus as a critical driver of performance. A young planner may prefer to work in an office because they are in shared accommodation where there is little privacy. An older planner who has worked at the company longer and has their own place may find working at home preferable.
3. PROJECTS AND WORKFLOWS – To make hybrid a success, you must consider how work gets done. An executive who manages the 2 strategic planners mentioned above, must not only consider their needs and preferences but also coordinate the work they do with that of the others on their team—and with other functions and consumers of their work. That kind of coordination was relatively straightforward when team members all worked in the same place at the same time. But in the era of hybrid work it has grown significantly more complex. Can better use of technology help with that? Or can reimagined workflows help with that?
4. INCLUSION AND FAIRNESS – Having extra focus on team connection and support is critical in a hybrid world. Employees also need to feel that they are being treated fairly. Research tells us that feelings of unfairness can hurt productivity and increase burnout. Hybrid arrangements should never replicate existing bad practices—as when firms began automating work processes, decades ago.
This framework is helpful to think through as you strive for workplaces that are psychologically safe and resilient.