In today’s special episode we interview Rachel Casanova for our second round discussion on how to build a hybrid work model. Who is accountable for designing the hybrid work plan? If we leave it exclusively up to leadership, we may disenfranchise the employees and frankly, they’ll leave. If we leave it up to the employees, will they have the best interests of the company in mind?
Rachel recommends that this be a collaborative quest where leaders partner with their employees to come up with several possible hybrid scenarios. Companies that focus on the solutions rather than the problems will collaboratively create viable options to Team Anywhere in ways that work best for everyone.
The Problem: The Organization vs Employees
Inspired organizations describe their future vision and challenge their talent to bring what they have to the table to achieve their vision. These inspired organizations are not rules-based organizations. Rules-based organizations will only get out of their people what their job description says, which is far less than what their people are capable of. Most companies are rules-based organizations and since the onset of the pandemic, the rules are up for grabs.
Now organizations are experiencing tension with their employees. There have been many examples where employers have said, “we need you back,” and employees have responded with, “we’re not coming.” Several organizations have been focused on proposing hybrid work models. Perhaps these organizations and their employees are inspired by the same outcome.
Organizations are faced with both the war for talent and the fear of employees quitting if they don’t get what they need. Thus, organizations have been willing to be flexible, perhaps because they have no choice. Both organizations and employees want to get to an ideal state where pandemic issues are behind them; and fortunately, it seems organizations are more willing to remain flexible.
Accountability on certain subjects between the employee and the employer is also creating rising tensions. Both the employee and employer have their own individual mission, vision, and goals, and they need to get into a place where they can have those conversations to find alignment.
Accountability in many areas has pivoted toward putting more accountability on employers. What is an employer going to do for their employees? What is the employer going to do to make the return-to-office easier for the employees? Employers are still faced with identifying who is accountable for things like vaccine mandates and the overall mental health of employees.
The Solution: Prototype Several Hybrid Work Models Collaboratively
What does hybrid work mean? Before the pandemic, hybrid work was not a mainstream conversation. Today, discussions fall under this bucket of hybrid work, as if there is only one “right” hybrid work model.
Have the Right Discussions
By having the right discussions and listening to all of the stakeholders before coming to a decision, leaders can come up with better hybrid scenarios. Organizations need to listen to employees, front line managers, leadership, focus groups–and hear from external consultants and stakeholders.
Having the right discussions with the right people allows organizations to create a hybrid work model that works for everyone without it being at the expense of a certain part of the organization. Employees are more open to speaking when the leader/owner isn’t in the room, so including expert dialogue consultants can break down that leadership influence to create great discussions.
Approach to Discussions:
- Hear from leadership: Understand their aspirations, and uncover answers to difficult questions that will arise.
- Hearing from management: Understand how far leadership ideas are from being achievable and listening for barriers.
- Hearing from Employees: Use surveys to hear from anyone willing to participate.
- Hearing from Focus Groups: Allowing for more independent voices to be heard that would commonly be less apt to share their opinions.
- Reviewing Organizational Network Analytics: Track the data footprint of how work is currently being done within your organization (i.e., collaboration hubs, email, chat groups, zoom meetings, shared documents, direct messaging, etc.).
Asking different focus groups and departments to create possible scenarios together is often difficult. But these discussions could be easier with the help of outside facilitators. Although the organization will receive several different proposals, doing this leg work will allow the organization to surface a wide-range of possibilities.
Create Possible Hybrid Work Model Scenarios
Consider the possible scenarios that arise from these discussions. Rachel outlines four possible scenarios (but not the only possible scenarios) of hybrid work models that employers are currently working on adopting.
- Employees work in the office two to three days a week, Tuesday through Thursday.
- Employees work in the office on Mondays and/or Fridays or both days to avoid long weekends.
- Employees work in the office two days of the week on specified days and work a third day in the office on a day that fits each person best.
- Employees work in the office 2-3 days a week and the employees pick those days.
Cons to Giving Individual Preference
Giving preference to individuals over the organization can have its cons. Individuals might be remote on a day the organization needs them in a client meeting in person. Leaders might be faced with significantly more time in the office against their will to accommodate face time with each person on their team. When creating possible scenarios, consider the cons of each situation and have discussions around those challenges.
Keep Searching for Tech Solutions
We have not seen enterprise-scalable technology that truly creates the in-person experience virtually. There will soon be technology where you can go to someone’s office and knock on the door virtually. This area of technology has been an under-invested area, and the solutions we currently see are not meeting the security protocols of large corporations.
When it comes to possible hybrid scenarios that work for your organization, keep searching for tech solutions that can continue to help with communication and connection.
Inspired organizations that will succeed in their hybrid work models are those that have a clear purpose, value proposition, and scenarios that will work. Having these collaborative discussions are extremely hard because they’ve never occurred before. There is no guide to the perfect hybrid work model, but as employees and employers dive into these discussions and collaborate together, they will slowly find what truly works for both parties. It’s time for us all to take a breath, appreciate what the world is trying to tell us and come up with better solutions.
To learn more about building your hybrid work model, download this episode now.
Online Courses for Leaders Leading a Team From Anywhere:
Check out these online courses for remote leaders from the Team Anywhere Team.