There are two things that are clear:
1. Employees do not want to go back to the old way of working
2. The majority of businesses are going to need to adopt a hybrid home and office working pattern for the foreseeable future.
We have spoken to a number of clients over the last few weeks who are reviewing their businesses and looking to make a permanent move to hybrid working practices. Some are making the decision to make home working the default with the option to come to offices for specific meetings, and others are looking for a more balanced future state – many mentioning a 40/60 split will become the norm.
Making a change like this is a seismic shift and is not to be underestimated if you want to maintain your culture, engage your people and build a growth mindset within your business.
Here are eight tips on how to successfully make a permanent shift:
1. Be clear on the rationale for change
The cost benefits of not having to maintain large offices cannot be the only driver for making a shift like this. Consider why you want to make the change, how it will set you up for success as a business, and what it will mean for your people, and the delivery of your strategy.
Be clear, open and honest with your people on what the future workplace will be like. Set your expectations clearly, outline the benefits for them as employees, and the business.
2. Understand what your people want from the future workplace
Before you make any final decisions about your future working model, engage your people. Find out what has worked over the last six months, and what hasn’t. What do your employees need to help make hybrid working practices successful?
3. Review your employee journey
Creating a business that has a blend of home and office-based working will require you to rethink your employee journey end-to-end. From recruitment and onboarding to recognition and communication, you will need to be prepared to tear up the rule book and create an experience that reinforces your purpose and values at every touch point in the new hybrid environment and can continue to energise your people.
4. Segment your audience
Each of your key audience groups is unique, their requirements from the workplace will be different and your employee experience will need to be tailored to meet those needs. Someone just starting out in their career will need something different to someone with 20-years-plus experience. Get under the skin of the demographic and mindset of your peopletoday and determine what they need from you in the future and what you need from them in return to thrive as a business.
5. Redefine the role of a manager within your business
Your people managers will need different skills to manage in the workplace of the future. Identify any gaps they have and any pain points in their experience and look to upskill now. Engaging, motivating and inspiring are mote team is hard, don’t underestimate the shift and the mental burden on your manager community.
6. Solve the collaboration challenge and bake innovation into your employee journey
Consider how you will collaborate in the future. Innovation and creativity can be stifled if you do not have opportunities for idea generation and connection. You need to actually create space for your people to be creative and design an experience that has collaborative problem solving at its core. And you need to recreate those watercooler moments in a virtual environment.
7. Diversity and inclusion
When people are working remotely, they can only collaborate and interact within their own network. You have to proactively look for ways to create opportunities for different colleagues to come together so you maintain diversity of thought across the business. You need to make a conscious effort to avoid isolation and group think. Ensuring you have a blend of perspectives matters more than ever. And be careful that biases that favour those in the office don’t creep in.
8. Evaluate your culture
Think about the behaviours you need to encourage to allow you to live your purpose and meet your strategic goals when people are not able to physically come together in your office spaces regularly. Assess where you are today and where you need to get to. Consider where your culture is being eroded and identify the opportunities for improvement. Start by looking at your employee journey through a hybrid working lens, work out what needs to change and what can stay. Create new moments that matter that will work wherever your people are based.
If you are looking at how to redesign your employee journey so it is fit for the new world of work get in touch at Victoria.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Data from United Culture Work Remastered survey.