After spending over a year dealing with remote work situations, many office-based employers are figuring out the best ways for returning to a hybrid work setting. We can’t all be Facebook and Google and lure employees with the promise of free gourmet food and onsite massages. But we can use some of what we’ve learned in the past year to make work more satisfying and enjoyable for everyone. Here are four topics to consider as you develop your plan for a hybrid work setting.
- Advance Notice
Let’s take a look at each of the topics in detail.
Now that many team members have proven they work well from their remote locations, they may not want to return to the office on a full-time basis. Other employees are eager to get back to their traditional spaces. You can start the process of return by surveying employees on what they prefer for work arrangements. Based on those results, you can present a plan that requires a certain number of in-person workdays each week.
Keep in mind that you might want to limit office crowing, especially at first. Employers suspect that many workers will want to avoid coming into the office on Mondays and Fridays. Onsite workday assignments may be a decision made on seniority or type of job. Several large employers have already cut back on available office space, so some team members may use different cubicles and desks when they go into the office.
Employees with family care responsibilities will need time to ramp up the support systems they had in place before the pandemic started. As vaccination levels increase, they can again count on childcare, adult care, and pet service services to handle their needs. Once you have a reopening date in mind, communicate it frequently. And advise supervisors to allow for flexibility in cases where some employees are struggling to find the resources they need before returning to a hybrid work setting.
Most of your employees are members of one or more teams. We are all mindful about minimizing time spent in team meetings. But some meetings will be necessary and not all of your team members will be present in person. Going forward, you should invest in the technology you need in small meeting rooms to accommodate both the in-person and remote attendees.
Several of your employees may have been personally impacted by the COVID-19 virus. If they were sickened by the virus, they may have lost a loved one. The continued news reports about the dangers of COVID-19 variants will make some staff members hesitant to return to the office. If you’re in a position to be flexible with the work locations for these employees, do so. And for all of the employees in remote work locations, you’ll need to continue to provide extra support and assure them that they are not missing out on opportunities to advance their careers by being out of the office.
Returning to a Hybrid Work Setting
The Wall Street Journal reports that, “In a February survey of 1,000 companies commissioned by LaSalle Network, a national staffing and recruiting firm, the majority of companies said they would adopt a hybrid model.” It might not be easy to get the hybrid work setting just right at first. Keep the lines of communication open and listen to the wants and needs of your employees. Because, “an inflexible workplace could drive employees away as the economy rebounds, and because many workers have proven themselves adept at working anywhere.” Our research shows that 45% of sales managers believe they need the ability to handle complex problem-solving and decision-making. The return to the new normal makes that need more apparent than ever before.