Ready or not, hybrid work is here to stay.
In employee surveys that Great Place to Work® gathered throughout 2020 and into May 2021, words such as “hybrid,” “flexibility,” and “remote” were mentioned by more than 53,000 employees when asked what they like about their workplace or what could make their workplace better.
“Going forward, place shouldn’t matter, but flexibility should,” says Great Place to Work’s CEO, Michael C. Bush. “I don’t think of the hybrid future as one of physical space. I think of it as really caring for people and giving them the flexibility that’s needed to have a high sense of well-being.”
But as we move into this new era of hybrid work, the future of how we’ll work is yet to be determined. How do companies define flexibility? What do employees want from the modern workplace? And why are some companies resistant to this kind of change?
The Great Resignation has proven that employees aren’t afraid to walk away in search of something better – which is why companies who listen, adapt and change will be the ones to succeed and build the foundation for a new hybrid workplace future.
Successful Hybrid Work Models
A successful hybrid work culture is about much more than just establishing a model around working hours and location.
Hybrid working is the combination of workplace systems, behaviours and values that cut across in-person and remote teams, impacting the overall employee experience.
Ultimately, hybrid work culture is how you bring the different ways people work together.
To succeed, a hybrid workplace must consider the needs of in-person employees and remote employees, and set up an arrangement that benefits all.
Here are 5 ways hybrid workplaces and leaders can achieve hybrid success:
1. They trust their employees
For leaders who found their own success in an office setting, it can be hard to imagine a high-functioning remote or hybrid work model — even though research on remote productivity debunks this view.
Companies that have successfully implemented hybrid workplaces are willing to transition from a control style of leadership to a more modern, people-centric style – one that trusts employees to get the job done from anywhere.
For example, tech company NVIDIA embodies this with a “the project is the boss” philosophy, in which it’s up to employees (and their schedules) to decide when work is completed, as long as the project gets done as expected.
Wellbeing Now: Key Shifts in Employee Wellbeing Since 2020
2. They listen to their people
One of the major challenges of remote and hybrid work is that it’s more difficult to build empathy with people when you’re not physically with them. As such, remote employees may feel like their colleagues and managers aren’t seeing their full selves or their full potential.
But remote and hybrid work also brings communication advantages. You can now bring together in virtual conversations people who typically wouldn’t have been able to connect except via email — like those who are in different countries and time zones, or living in different circumstances.
Successful hybrid leaders know that they need to take advantage of these opportunities while minimising isolation.
To maintain employee trust and fairness, they proactively solicit employee feedback in real time, whether that’s through regular pulse surveys, feedback sessions, or another method.
3. They see employees as co-creators of the workplace
Sadly, too many senior leaders aren’t willing to see the benefits of remote/hybrid work, nor are they willing to give their employees a say.
Top-performing hybrid companies have the opposite attitude. Their leaders aren’t afraid to put their employees in the driver’s seat as co-creators of the workplace.
By offering flexibility, these workplaces empower employees to prioritise their personal lives — thus increasing employee wellbeing, engagement and retention.
4. They create equity between remote and onsite employees
When employees are scattered, it’s easy to overlook those who don’t get as much face time with management.
Successful hybrid leaders keep track of all employees to ensure no one is left behind. They also ensure that everyone is considered for projects and promotions.
These leaders also recognise the unfairness often felt by those employees whose roles don’t permit them to work offsite. To combat this, successful leaders ensure onsite workers are given comparable flexibility as their remote counterparts.
For example, Hilton redefined its on-property roles and implemented a new “SuperFlex” workforce model that allows call centre staff to choose their schedule and number of working hours.
5. They set and communicate clear intentions
The past two years have proven just how exhausting it can be to live in chronic uncertainty.
As we embark on this new normal of hybrid working, it’s crucial for employers to provide clarity and consistency. This not only impacts productivity and employee engagement, but also the well-being of everyone in the organisation.
Salesforce has done this with their Flex Team Agreements (FTAs), which outline how work gets done, covering everything from how workdays are scheduled, how meetings should run, and how to collaborate in a way that keeps everyone connected. These FTAs are made up of three levels — company, function and team — thereby creating a consistent experience for all.
Want to be a successful hybrid leader?
Listening to your employees via regular pulse surveys will ensure your transition to hybrid is a smooth and meaningful one.
This feature has been adapted from the original article by of Great Place to Work®’s Zach D’Amato and Claire Hastwell.