The Hybrid Workplace: Preparing for Shifting Employee Expectations
As vaccination rates rise and the nation begins the slow return to normal, it is impossible to deny the business landscape will change in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. To protect employees, positions long thought to be office-bound were transitioned into work from home. After a year of uncertainty and mixed messaging regarding public spaces, the environmental security of one’s home became a constant and grounding point for workers across the country. To no one’s surprise, employees aren’t exactly clamoring to get back into the office now that they know they can complete the same tasks in the comforts and safety of their home.
The past eighteen months have dramatically shifted how employees view work-life balance. Businesses must understand the adapted employee mindset and prepare for the upcoming shift of employee expectations.
Forbes recently reported that one in four working-aged Americans are looking to pursue new jobs due to the projected COVID-19-influenced shake-up of the modern workplace. 40% of these individuals indicated that keeping the benefit of working remotely post-pandemic, whether full or part time, was one of the driving factors behind their decision to seek out a new career. If the projected forty million workers do change careers, management and business leaders across all industries will be saddled with the time-consuming burden of replacing trained, productive talent who are already operating at full speed and capacity. This will cut into production, project sourcing, project completion, and profits and have implications all over your business structure.
It’s no secret that one of the most expensive aspects of running a business is sourcing, training, and retaining new talent. The more staff turnover your business experiences, the lower quality product you can provide to your customers resulting in less profits for your company. Retaining your best employees in their positions will be vital to come out of the upcoming career-swapping shake-up ahead.
Do you have a strategy in place for exploring the desires of your employees as we reach these new milestones on the path back to normalcy?
There is no time like the present to begin collecting the information you need to make a well-informed decision. Prior to March 2020, remote work was a benefit for select workers with most employers preferring their employees to work in their physical offices. Statista, a market leading consumer data firm, released a study in early July 2021 indicating that 56% of all current remote workers were not remote when the measures to reduce community spread began shortly thereafter.
According to a December 2020 study done by Pew Research Center, of those working from home for the first time during the epidemic, 49% reported an increased flexibility in how they accomplished tasks throughout their day and 38% reported a better work-life balance. These realizations will shape what your employees expect as we round the corner and approach the finish line of the marathon of change that 2020 brought us. However, in that same study, 65% of the newly remote reported feeling less connected to their coworkers. After a year of the often talked about Zoom fatigue, this shouldn’t be a surprising statistic.
These statistics reveal a need to implement a strategy that both employees and employers can get behind: the hybrid model.
A Gallup survey in January of 2021 found that 44% of US workers prefer to work from home once restrictions are lifted while 39% want to return to the office full-time. Not surprisingly, this same survey found that 55% of employees would prefer to be remote at least three days a week while 68% of executives want their employees to be in the office at least three days a week. Adopting a hybrid model can increase employee happiness and loyalty while also allowing for in-office connection and managerial oversight a few days a week. A Gensler consulting workplace survey found that the overarching desire of employees was that moving forward the ability to work in a hybrid workplace would determine how long they would stay with their current employer.
Have you considered how going remote full-time would impact your business? Is there a hybrid-model that can be implemented that meets your employees in the middle ground?
The answers to these questions can be answered by surveying your employees. Their input is invaluable to this process. A simple, anonymous survey can uncover key data points that can be used for making the appropriate decision for your business. With the following questions you can build a foundation for moving forward:
“Do you believe that your job can be done entirely remote? If not entirely, what percentage of your job requires you to be in the office?”
“If you were required to return to the office for a typical, Monday-Friday schedule, would you consider looking for a new job to maintain remote work benefits?”
“If we were to adopt a hybrid model with mandatory office attendance, would you prefer a 3/2 split where you are in the office three days a week, or a 2/3 split where you are in the office for two days a week?”
After a year of balancing a modified workforce, you already possess a year’s worth of data points for what your business needs to move forward in this new environment.
No one knows your business better than your employees. No one knows your business metrics better than you. When you have the facts, informed decisions can be made to benefit everyone. At Davis Professional Services, we believe that with the proper data and ensuing best practices, leaders at all levels can make decisions that benefit not only the business and the customers, but also the employees that make the machine run effectively.