Flexible work or Hybrid Work.
Which is better depends upon your company culture and the quality of your managers.
Flexible work refers to a work arrangement that allows employees to have more control over when and where they work.
Hybrid work combines elements of both office based and remote work. It is more structured, like Monday to Thursday in the office, Friday work from home.
There are any number of statistics that suggest one is better for productivity than the other. A lot of money has already been spent by cash rich enterprises who hire illustrious consulting groups to figure out the best way to implement either of these work types.
Our initial advice is, don’t pay them. They may be experts in work and productivity theory. They may have access to more data than anyone can imagine. They most certainly list names of other major companies they have consulted for.
They will show you results, positive data analytics and productivity improvements. You’ll catch yourself and HR team members nodding. Almost certainly they will not speak to you about the companies they advised who saw no improvement in either productivity or employee satisfaction. Maybe ask them.
That said, if you do ask them, you will learn that their “suggestions were on point”. “It was (of course) in the company’s implementation of these suggested action steps” that the fault lies.
Are we over simplifying this a bit? That is a solid “Maybe”.
What to Do
We’ve found that the best way to figure out what will work and what will not work is to do your own research, then start small. You know who your most productive teams are. Go speak with the managers of those teams.
Those managers will tell you what is good and bad about this new work environment you are investigating. They will tell you things about your culture and their team’s dynamics that no outsider can contemplate. You can trust them for simple reasons: They know how to motivate team members to be more productive; they know what it takes to perform both to your company’s goals and within your company’s limits; they know how your work environment advances the company’s cause.
They likely have shifted to a flexible or hybrid team environment already.
They will tell you why they have shifted to a flexible or a hybrid work team.
They already know what works, what doesn’t, and why.
Take their advice. Take the guidelines they have created already. Separate the guidelines that universally apply to your company from the guidelines that do not.
Now you have a starting point that you know will work for your organization.
Then offer these guidelines to ALL your team leaders and allow them to implement the guidelines as they see fit.
Do not do this as a corporate, division or department standard. Devise guidelines that match your company goals. Allow your Team leaders to manage their team’s work culture within these guidelines. Carry it out team by team.
One Last Point
This is a trend that is hashed out in all the papers and journals, as well as around the company “water cooler”. For better or worse, and for the time being, you can’t avoid it. The point is, if you haven’t taken action or in the least acknowledged the trend, there are any number of your high value people that are wondering why.
This isn’t hard stuff. It’s hardly a new concept. Has it become a significant issue because some companies increasingly do most of their client value work by PC and Email? Yes.
Did Covid lockdowns show that it was possible for some teams or companies? Yes.
But that is not every company. Not by a long shot.
There is certainly a quality of life / work balance that was ignored for too long. We could tell you our own personal stories, ugh. Let’s not create a lower quality of work environment while trying to solve this problem.
So go to your leaders and ask them. There is no need to bring in the Big 3 to tell you how to make life and productivity better for your people.