The short answer is yes for most companies in some form. We all know how difficult the last year has been. Rapid shifts in how and where we work was forced on all of us. We also learned that this brought opportunities on many levels. One is no commute time. On the other hand, it has brought challenges. One is how to maintain your corporate culture with everyone remote. With all of this comes opportunities to redefine how your employees do their job all the while keeping them front and center as you move to a more hybrid workforce.
Nearly a quarter of the entire workforce wants to continue to work remotely long-term. What are companies going to do about it? Some will require everyone back into the office, others will figure out what their hybrid model looks like. Constantly making tweaks as they learn and adapt. There are opportunities to having a hybrid work culture. Better talent retention, happier employees, and your talent pool when hiring just increased from where you are located, to across the country or even the world. That has a big upside. Another is cost savings on physical space. You won’t need as much. For the skeptics still out there, a PwC poll of 133 company executives showed that they feel average productivity has improved 52% during this one-plus year of working from home.
Because of COVID-19, even Google is looking at shifting their open-office style, which was based on the theory of putting more workers into smaller spaces and taking away privacy will lead to better collaboration. Now they are looking at redesigning their offices to be prepared for their hybrid workforce.
What will your company culture look like with a hybrid workforce long-term? It will take work to ensure it isn’t lost. One thing that will help is to make sure your mission and values are communicated on a regular basis and everyone is aligned, which is what helps maintain your company culture. Make sure your employees know what your company values and the type of culture you want to maintain. For example, being we value work/life balance. If you are only talking about it and not putting it into action, your employees will lose faith in you. “The importance of intention should be one of the most valuable lessons about company culture to come out of this pandemic,” said Jennifer Howard-Grenville, professor of organizational studies at Cambridge University Business School. “Culture isn’t just inertial, it doesn’t come for free,” she said. ‘You have to keep feeding it.”
5 things companies will want to consider as they figure out their long-term hybrid model:
- Every 6-8 weeks bring everyone in for a 1 week on-site. This is not where you would want to do the work you usually would do from home, this is where you do work that benefits best when all together. Strategy, relationship building, collaboration.
- Provide training for leaders on how to lead long-term remote workers and their hybrid teams.
- Create flexibility around hours and where your employees work. It is time to move away from the traditional work hours in the office.
- Provide more technology-based tools to support your hybrid team’s collaboration.
- Communicate broadly at every step of the process so your workforce understands what is going on providing transparency.
More employees have gotten comfortable with working from home and will want to continue. With that, there will be a need for companies and leaders to be more flexible, and strategic in embracing this new more complex workplace. Your culture can be maintained in this new hybrid model. Get creative, do employee surveys to find out what they want. Listen and be curious to find the balance that works for your company.