Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Why your business is failing at hybrid work

Does this sound like your business?

It just turned hybrid and embraced a flexible work schedule for employees.

They turn up three days a week at the office and remote work for the remaining two days – voila, hybrid work model complete.

if so, your hybrid work model sucks.

Most businesses have flexible working arrangements to improve work-life balance and claim to be a company that supports hybrid work.

But it’s not so simple. In fact, Mckinsey found that a hybrid work model is far more complex than remote work.

The concept of flexible working arrangement takes structure, policies, intention and more than just claiming “we are now hybrid.” Without these factors, a company is sacrificing its objectives, productivity levels and engaging in something they don’t know how to manage effectively.

Don’t lose your structure

Top companies such as Disney, Starbucks, Twitter and KPMG all pulled out of the hybrid work structure.

More often than not, businesses that rush into flexible working arrangements dump all structure and realize the consequences later.

They think about giving their employees a better work-life balance, improving their personal lives, and jumping onto a trend to appear not out of touch. Supporting your team is fantastic, but without structure, your business will likely end up completely remote and diminish the benefits of hybrid work.

The biggest challenge you will face is organizing a logical and strategic calendar that informs your employees of their designated office days. To some people, this undoes the purpose of flexible work schedules and employees believe they should have autonomy over their calendar.

But a flexible schedule shouldn’t mean your organization has no say over your work structure – it all comes down to management. If employers don’t set a reason for their team to come into the office, then they will likely stay home.

It’s also about creating a rhythm and consistency in your work week. Without routine, how does your team effectively collaborate? How can group projects progress efficiently? How do you know which team members are in the office today?

Incorporate a hybrid work policy

There must be general guidelines that employees need to follow.

You don’t want a vacant office with empty desks and a team comprising only remote workers. There are plenty of hybrid work policy templates that outline the conditions of remote work and highlight some essentials that organizations should include.

But what’s challenging is navigating an increasing number of workers that refuse to follow a structure and quit if their ideal conditions aren’t met. The recent Great Resignation, quiet quitting and loud quitting trends have changed the dynamics between employers and workers – mostly with leaders losing control.

0
Percent of U.S companies are using or plan to implement a hybrid work model.
  • Communication technology
  • Project management software
  • Remote work policies
  • Strong team culture

Employees are taking control

Upon a glance at our current media, employees are painted to be in the driver’s seat.

And perhaps there’s nothing wrong with that. Suppose your team is happier with flexible working arrangements and enjoying a better personal life. In that case, they’re likely to be more engaged at work, which equates to greater productivity.

There needs to be a balance point.

Companies are struggling to maintain expensive office spaces to ensure operations don’t become fully remote, and their teams are coming in whenever they want. There’s an incredible amount of pressure to keep flexible working arrangements or face mass quitting or deal with workers that do the bare minimum.

Why?

Because companies have failed to set boundaries.

Some research suggests that there is confusion over who decides the remote working days in a hybrid arrangement. Traditionally the decision makers have always been business leaders, but the current argument suggests so long as the work is completed, does it matter?

But does such reasoning in pursuit of work-life balance and flexible working arrangements skew our motivation for career growth? An office employee finishing tasks before 5 PM will likely find more work to ensure they’re not just staring at a screen. However, in a hybrid work model, there’s no certainty that employees find more work after completing their tasks.

Our findings show that 60% of employees are either working on a side hustle, doing chores or logging off early after completing tasks but still having hours on the clock.

If workers chase task completion over excellence, they limit their growth potential and hybrid work becomes a hurdle for career progression.

The key message is to set boundaries – for the good of employees and the company.

Make your team feel valued

This doesn’t mean the hybrid work model is a failure and businesses must take an authoritarian approach.

Organizations have to change their hybrid work ideology and understand they can accomplish their objectives while giving employees flexible working arrangements.

Before you implement a hybrid work model, every employee should know their mission and how they contribute to the overall business objectives as an individual. Make them realize how their input shapes company results and consequently why they’re needed in the office occasionally.

Communication as such is a great contributor to creating motivation and discipline in the workplace.

When setting rules and boundaries, work with your team to find a happy medium that benefits both parties equally. Ideally, team members that collaborate often should come into the office on the same day and office space utilization needs to be maximized to ensure businesses aren’t wasting money.

Don’t let the office days go to waste. 

Too often workers show up to the office and it’s no different than working from home. Managers must foster a strong team culture of collaboration, communication and good rapport amongst co-workers to make each office day useful.

If there are no occasional over-the-shoulder questions amongst co-workers or frequent collaboration opportunities with the manager, then it’s a reflection of poor team culture. Managers should have at least one meaningful conversation with their employees weekly, whether it’s about flexible work arrangements, their work or life in general.

Creating an ideal roster which satisfies both parties is the biggest challenge, but as mentioned earlier it must be made with collaboration. 

Employees can’t expect total autonomy over their schedule without realizing the negative business implications it can present. If they cannot see why there’s no opportunity for total control, then it’s likely the business has failed to communicate the necessity for a collaborative approach, or the worker simply doesn’t care.

Similarly, employers cant expect to dictate a roster with zero communication with their team. The current workforce values flexibility and mental health, hence employees are more likely to be engaged and motivated at work if you consider their needs.

Flexible work is tricky

Hybrid and remote work models are still a work in progress.
 
Flexible work has been around for a few years and while we draw on some conclusions, the number of businesses that intently structure their operations around it is still sparse.
 
Most lack the boundaries and technology to efficiently manage it, while the rest assume hybrid only involves splitting the work week between the office and remotely. But the ever-evolving landscape of flexible work only improves as we learn from our mistakes.
 
At the end of the day, it all comes down to how it’s managed.
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