When the pandemic first hit and remote work started becoming more normal, everyone felt uneasy. How will this work? Will teams still operate the same? Can I still be productive at home? And above all...how long will this last? Now as the dust is beginning to settle, we have been able to answer these questions in some form or another.
For some, remote work offers flexibility, less time spent commuting, and an enhanced level of creativity. For others, the lack of structure is strange, they can’t focus on work with children or pets in the household, and they have trouble connecting with teammates. Neither side is wrong or right, these are honest realities for many working professionals; so how do we go forward?
McKinsey Research saw that 80% of workers polled said they enjoyed working from home.
The difference in opinion isn’t just between coworkers. Leaders and employees are also not seeing eye-to-eye on the hybrid or remote work setup. According to Microsoft's 2022 Work Trend Index, 80% of workers said they were just as productive if not more so since the change to remote or hybrid work. While, 54% of business leaders "fear productivity has been negatively impacted since the shift."
Work format decisions used to be primarily left up to company leadership but recently employees have been in the driver's seat for decision making. Companies are looking to not only hire but also retain existing talent and avoid the wave of turnovers that seems to be hitting so many organizations. The Society for Human Resource Management conducted a survey in June 2022 of 1,700 job seekers and nearly half said that they would seek a remote position for their next job. Additionally, McKinsey Research saw that 80% of workers polled said they enjoyed working from home.
This is a decision that impacts both employees and employers and the different pros and cons need to be considered. Teammates and leadership have the same overarching goal, the success of the company. However, the steps to get to that goal can be different, hence the mixed feelings about remote/hybrid work. Employees want to feel valued, be productive, and feel at ease while working with their team. Leadership is focused on creating and maintaining positive company culture, keeping productivity and profits high, and retention of talent.
Before adopting a hybrid or remote work style, there are various considerations that need to be made. For employees, they need to assess if they have the right equipment, a low number of distractions, and if they are comfortable with fewer face-to-face interactions. Employers need to consider that new hires or people in new roles may need in-person or hands-on help as they adjust. They also need to remain in the loop about how teams are doing as far as productivity and wellness.
To help make the shift to hybrid or remote work easier for your organization, Forbes suggests doing two main things;
Start leveraging workplace analytics.
Have things such as building access and reservation systems for meeting/work spaces set up early on and make sure your teams know how to use these systems. Doing this will help your IT team understand where problems are arising and for administration to understand how different teams are impacted by on-site time.
Maintain flexibility and adaptability.
You need to be able to adjust as time goes on and the best way to know what needs adjusting is to create an “ongoing employee feedback loop.” Essentially keep up to date on employees' opinions about the hybrid/remote experience and what concerns or comments they have. Using intuitive systems that are anonymous and can be used remotely will increase employee participation and the honesty of their answers.
This is a new experience for everyone. It will take patience and teamwork but can result in a company of happier and more productive people. So, talk about it, see what works and what doesn’t, and enjoy the journey as a team.