Almost every leader and organization seems to be planning for the big comeback—getting people back to work on a more regular basis. We already know the future of work will be hybrid, with the vast majority of people working from home and in offices. But there's a lot of ambiguity and, to be honest, a lot of space for error beyond that.
Because talent is in short supply, the stakes are enormous. According to one poll, 40% of people are considering quitting their present employment, implying that we are on the verge of a talent revolution. Employees will opt to join, remain, or depart based on organizational cultures, flexibility, and employment policies.
Furthermore, nothing about the planning process is straightforward because a successful return requires us to include everything we've learned about work over the last 16 months—as well as everything we've enjoyed about working away from the office. These must be considered as part of the intelligence we bring to the future of work and our workplaces.
There isn't a single one of us who hasn't been affected in some way.
No one is immune, and no matter where you've been working, the "return" will be difficult. Workers on the front lines and in the hospital system remind us that not everyone has returned home. Those who work in labs, warehouses, or manufacturing are also likely to have been working away from their kitchen tables. However, the environment of the workplace has altered, regardless of where we work.
Individuals, leaders, and businesses face high-stakes decisions regarding how and how often to return, as well as who will return. You may desire to work from home more frequently as an individual, but doing so may limit your social capital and job advancement chances. Leaders must provide employees a sense of choice and power while also ensuring that team members are engaged. And corporations are balancing on a precarious balancing act when it comes to talent. They risk losing personnel if they don't provide enough flexibility, and they run the risk of losing productivity if they can't attract people to the office for work that is best done in person.
It will be necessary to make compromises
It will be difficult to determine which tactics are the most effective, and practically every decision will include tradeoffs. Furthermore, judgments will necessitate balancing the specific circumstances of individuals, work, industries, competitive landscapes, and geographic locations. Overall, thinking about how you value people, performance, and systems, as well as how you value both the interactions you create and the outcomes you achieve, will help you adopt broad principles that guide your decisions. Oversimplifying is a trap. In fact, there will be no easy answers. Taking into account all perspectives, angles, and ramifications will help you make better selections. It will not be simple, but it will be crucial. Here are the approaches to framing and evaluating the decisions you'll make in the hybrid future.
1. Personal and organizational demands
Individuals may prefer to work from home in their pajamas, avoiding the drive and taking advantage of the kitchen's comforts. However, remaining at home can stifle personal development. Building relationships, nurturing networks, and learning from others are best done in person. Sure, people can do this digitally, but the best connections are typically made when people stumble into each other at the coffee shop or exchange surprising ideas while waiting for the lift. People must also evaluate their accessibility. Even the most progressive businesses, which strive to advance irrespective of where they work, sometimes overlook those who aren't in their regular line of sight. Being more present is helpful for your career since you'll be on the horizon for the next exciting project or wonderful upgrade, which is a simple fact.
2. Controlling the situation
Control issues will also need to be addressed by leaders and businesses. The reputable news is emphasizing how much control workers have had while at home—particularly over their hours and working patterns—and how many employees aren't looking forward to waking up earlier or fighting traffic only to return to offices that sap their vitality. People are more engaged, fulfilled, and happy when they have more access and control, according to a large body of research. They also perform better when they have more authority. There are numerous reasons why businesses should allow employees more flexibility in terms of where they work, when they work, and how they work. But it's also true that businesses exist to produce outcomes, and it's reasonable to establish expectations for employees and demand performance in exchange for pay and benefits.
When it comes to deciding how to bring the people back, companies that thrive will stick to their principles. A major guiding principle should be respect for others. Transparency will also be crucial: Keep communication channels accessible between employees and executives by sharing the rationale for decisions. Leaders will have to strike a balance between empathy for their staff and a need to hold them accountable for excellent performance. The correct response is not to absolve individuals of all responsibility, but rather to give them complete freedom to make anything they choose. Employees, on the other hand, want to feel important and to know that their contributions are essential to the company's success. Give them feedback on their performance and remind them how their work adds to the value chain and the end customer to motivate and validate them.
3.The power of compelling an employee
Forcing, threatening, or pressuring people will be less successful as you bring them back. Some individuals may be apprehensive about returning or feel threatened. Foster trust by being transparent about what they may expect as people don't trust what they don't understand and showing respect for people's individual needs. People will be really driven to return to work if they have a favorable experience—a culture that values them, coworkers who respect them, leaders who bring a sense of purpose, and an inspirational environment.
Workplaces should be updated to allow for plenty of collaboration as well as focused work. Ensure that offices provide opportunities for people to interact, learn from one another, and form connections. Allow people to choose where they work on campus based on the kind of work they need to complete at the same time. Consider how you might pique people's interest by providing updated locations or situations with aspects of exploration or surprises.
Reciprocity is ingrained in our nature, and we are all more eager to give when we receive something in return. These "give" will drive employees to contribute when leaders provide coaching and mentoring and organizations provide excellent benefits and possibilities for professional advancement. When we feel valued, we are eager to participate. And we're keen to put forth effort when we believe the corporation is looking out for our best interests.
Nothing at all about the comeback will be pleasant, but it will be crucial. As a result, we'll have to prepare for growth and be aware that we'll need to shift. Putting employees first is not only beneficial to them, but it is also advantageous for the company. Rather than being inconsequential, ensuring that people have positive experiences has a significant impact on outcomes. Do the appropriate course of action for the workers not only because it is the right thing to do, but also because it will have a significant impact on company outcomes and future success.