Given the choice, would you rather go back to the office full-time or continue working from home when the pandemic is over? It’s a question that companies like Google and Twitter have been asking their own staff. Tessian, too, has spent a lot of time thinking about what the workplace will look like next year and beyond. And it all comes back to this word: choice.
Never before have ways of working gone through such a significant shift in so little time. In a matter of months, we changed how we engaged and connected with employees all over the world. The shift has changed our view of the workplace forever and, as such, our leadership team sought to answer a single question: What should our workplace look like when things go back to some semblance of „normal“?
In working to answer this question, we’ve learned valuable lessons I’d like to share with other business leaders who are facing the same challenge. At such an uncertain time full of many firsts, sharing knowledge (and mistakes) among peers is invaluable. I hope this framework for our own hybrid model can help guide other companies along this journey.
A Workplace Built Around Choice
If the past year has taught us one thing, it’s that employees can work together effectively while away from the office. And people like this different way of working; some employees told us they’ve enjoyed spending more time with family and less time commuting and have even felt more productive at home. Others, however, have struggled with Zoom fatigue and constant distractions. They told us they missed the structure that an office environment provided and would jump at the chance to interact with colleagues face-to-face again.
So in thinking through the future of our workplace, it became clear that choice is one of the most important factors in human well-being. We all want to have agency over our decisions, especially important decisions like where we live and work. A hybrid model allows people to do their best work in the ways that work best for them.
Moving forward, then, our employees will have three ways of working to choose from. They can be:
1. An office-based employee who goes into the office at least three times a week with a set desk to work at.
2. A flexible employee who goes into the office once or twice a week and works at a bookable hot desk.
3. A remote employee who visits one of our office hubs a few times a year.
We find that offering this flexibility and choice increases productivity as well as the overall happiness of our employees.
The Benefits Of A Hybrid Remote Workplace
After extensive research, our leadership team saw that there were three main benefits to this „choice-first“ workplace. First, this model allows a company to attract and retain world-class talent regardless of their workplace preferences. Second, it can enable access to new pools of diverse talent, including those in new geographies or those who need to work from home for health, caretaking or other reasons.
Third, allowing employees to choose what works best for them can support their overall well-being. During the past year, despite the difficult year it has been, our own employee engagement data has seen an uplift due to our flexible work options.
Essential Questions To Consider
No significant organizational change happens without risk. Employers should spend the proper time and resources thinking through the major questions that need to be answered during this transition and make sure any solutions actually meet their employees‘ needs.
Consider, for example, how you’ll maintain a culture in a hybrid remote workplace. Think through new ways to include all employees in company culture regardless of how they choose to work. Leaders must also find ways to ensure that no one is unfairly impacted (either positively or negatively) by their choice and that all employees continue to feel connected to what’s happening within the organization.
You also need to consider when to use synchronous versus asynchronous communication to make ways of working as effective as possible, think about how to keep employees secure wherever they work and decide which collaboration tools are most effective for a hybrid office. Lastly, organizations need to decide how feedback and performance processes will change in a remote hybrid workplace.
These decisions must be based on an organization’s unique needs. There is no one-size-fits-all approach because considerations must be based foremost on employees.
The Workplace Was Meant To Adapt
The way we work should never be rigid, because the forces that shape every workplace — the economy, new technology, employee needs — are always changing. Organizations must be nimble enough to respond to these trends and empower teams to do their best work amid changing circumstances. There is no „future of work“ because we’re creating it every day through the decisions we make. I’m excited to see how our own choice-first and hybrid remote work model will continue to evolve in 2021 and beyond.