Defining your hybrid

However you define your hybrid, here are the 3 strategies to elevate the employee experience.
August 18, 2023
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The following insights by Nellie Hayat are inspired by conversations that took place at Purposeful Intent, San Francisco (Aug 2023).

The future of work is undeniably hybrid — Nick Bloom made that abundantly clear with his research: Despite some companies trying to mandate a full week in the office, most employees are only coming in 2-3 days a week without repercussions. Fully remote work, meanwhile, remains marginal.

In a Nutshell: No matter what you call it (hybrid, flexible, dynamic), the new work model is here to stay, so let’s optimize it for our benefit.

At the core of leaning into this new way of working is a commitment to an outstanding employee experience.

Employee experience is crucial to businesses whose growth and competitiveness rely on productivity, engagement and innovation (the 3 KPIs of the employee experience team).

The problem is, right now, employee experience is disjointed and handled by various departments: HR for culture, Real Estate for workplace, and IT for new work methods.

That makes it challenging for leaders to get on board and see progress. And it's incredibly confusing for employees — how do they know what is expected of them?

Taking action

Below are a few strategies you can do right now to fill the gaps:

Elevate your team’s performance, says Grammarly's Tracy Hawkins.

Accept new challenges and encourage your team to do the same. Also, consider rebranding your team — at Grammarly, Tracy’s team is called Remote First Hybrid.

Coordinate with HR and IT, recommends Sara Anderson of Genentech.

Present a unified plan to leadership,

Document everything.

Make the implicit explicit by codifying your company’s mission, values, and operations, says Darren Murph.

Leverage technology with intention, says Nellie Hayat.

Having clarity on goals and outcomes makes it easier to justify the need for technology. Check out the list here to find out the best vendors in each category.

Establish team agreements.

Future Forum offers excellent resources to help you create one.

Ask better questions, says Amina Moreau of Radious.

Don't ask how many days you want to come to the office but how often you value seeing your colleague. Create a more dynamic and adaptable work environment that resonates with the evolving needs of the workforce (e.g., 3rd spaces and co-working providers).

Acknowledge the symptoms, suggests PagerDuty's Nathan Manuel and Andreas Hoffbauer, PhD of Atelier Kultur.

Take action to improve reduced innovation, poor collaboration, low engagement, quiet quitting, and executive team disconnect.

Build workplaces people like.

Let people walk on the grass then lay concrete. This is much easier to do with tools like utilization and occupancy sensor data 👇

It's time to come to terms with ...

Remote work will get bigger — In-office attendance hovers at 30%, lower than pre-pandemic levels. And remote work is likely to increase in the near future for two main reasons:

  1. Technology is getting better and will make it easier for teams to work async.
  2. The cohort effect: the startups of today (who are largely adopting a flex and remote-first work model) will be the big companies of tomorrow. They’ll drive the standards for how and where we work.

The hub & spoke model hasn’t gained traction. Employees have moved to the suburbs, but offices often remain in city centers — something referred to as the donut effect.

The Donut Effect: About 1m people have left US big city centers.

Hybrid isn't shrinking space demand. Even when they can choose the days to come in to the office, most employees choose the same days (Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday). As a result, this new way of working does not allow companies to shrink their footprint. 

Flexibility is not the same as remote. What an overwhelming number of people want (81%) is flexibility in where they work. Regardless, all employees crave meaningful interactions with their teams.

Hybrid is hard and planning togetherness is the hardest part.

Large firms are mostly planning team or company coordinated hybrid.

People value time over place, says Brian Elliot.

People want focus time. And they want more intention when getting together. Focusing on “moments that matter'' will provide better results than office mandates.

Tip: Research shows that the moments that matter the most to employees are: socialization, affiliation, and development. Be purposeful.

Purpose-driven hybrid: highest compliance and satisfacdtion.

Employees would take a 10% pay cut for the flexibility and the option to work from home, which often results in happier, healthier, and more productive staff.

Happy, healthy and more fulfilled humans make better employees. So you know what you have to do to please leadership 😎 bring positive business outcomes and show the ROI of your hybrid work strategy.

One last thing: The power of people sharing a space is still as important today as ever. That was incredibly clear by the in-person conversations at Purposeful Intent that inspired this post.

But since we all can't meet in person, follow me on LinkedIn here (and Density, here).