Why workplace leaders can't afford to be shybrid

Why workplace design leaders can't be shybrid.
March 16, 2022
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Nearly 60% of employees demand flexibility, yet more than half of employers don’t offer hybrid work options. That according to our survey of 1,000 employees. Is this a case of employers being “shybrid”, as Paul McKinlay, Vice President of Communications and Remote Working at Cimpress suggests? 

McKinlay defines shybrid as continually pushing back return dates without declaring on a future model and leaving people in this limbo. This state of limbo can have disastrous effects on employee productivity, happiness, and loyalty. 

To address these issues, we need to identify why companies are so hesitant and demonstrate how adopting a hybrid work strategy can help to deliver positive outcomes. 

Impacts of limbo

Shybrid employers who fail to plan an effective strategy for their team create confusion and insecurities across the company.

A lack of planning promotes the idea that leadership doesn't care about what works best for their team, leading to employees looking elsewhere. The Great Resignation has proven that employees aren't afraid to walk away searching for something better. 51% of employees surveyed shared they would quit their job if their hybrid work option was removed. 

This is why employers who listen, adapt, and change will succeed and build the foundation for a new hybrid workplace future. Ignoring the move towards a more hybrid workforce will not help to evade the challenges or consequences of being stubborn to change. 

These resistant employers also fail to realize the need for flexibility at work. Many employees have been challenged with combining once-siloed tasks and responsibilities of their personal lives into one shared experience. Childcare has changed. Education has changed. Each of these changes has forced employees to readjust their schedules and when they get their work done. The opportunity to spend less time commuting and work on a schedule that is most beneficial to all parties is one of the key differentiators of hybrid work. Employers who fail to offer this flexibility will risk their employees' happiness and loyalty to stay. 

Hesitant to change

While the move towards hybrid work is apparent for some companies, there are many that are hesitant to change. But why?

Productivity comes into question, with many employers worried that working from home will give their teams the ability to slack off. Conversely, PwC found that 57% of companies have seen an increase in productivity since moving towards workplace flexibility, with some organizations almost three times more likely to see high employee performance.

Some employers worry their remote employees' engagement and loyalty will wane if those employees continue to work away from the office. But an organization's culture will not go away if people work remotely. Companies are thriving while embracing remote and hybrid work. BetterCloud is preserving its culture by giving every employee a voice and representation through a highly diverse management team. Ceros embraces the well-being of their workers with half-day Fridays. Dropbox generously provides 32 hours of volunteer time per year. Culture is not just what goes on inside the office’s four walls — it's how your team thinks and feels about their value in your company. Companies should consider if the culture they once had and are trying to preserve fits into the future of work. ​​Perhaps erasing former hierarchies of walls and cubicles and incorporating workplace strategies is the environment needed to enhance the employee experience.

Combatting the hesitation

Companies don't need to have all the answers. But they do need to communicate. Given the trends accelerated by the pandemic — the success of remote work on a large scale, the migration of workers to less-expensive locales, the redesigning of office space to accommodate social distancing — workplace leaders need to quickly communicate what working in the office is meant to accomplish. For example, Google has kept communication open through company-wide memos, sharing their hybrid word strategy allows for the balance of teams intentionally coming together to collaborate and connect in the office, and spending the other days working from wherever best suits their needs.

Why should your employees want to work in the office? “People don't want to leave their homes and come to the office just to come to the office.” says Linda Foggie, EVP & Americas Head of Corporate Occupier at Turner & Townsend. If it’s to promote collaboration, then share that. If it’s to introduce new technologies, then share that.

That clarity will enable employers to bridge the gap between them and their employees. They can then reimagine how and where their work gets done, how much office space they need, and how to support employees effectively in any work environment. These workplaces empower employees to prioritize their personal lives by offering flexibility, thus increasing employee well-being, engagement, and retention. Understanding how to embrace your hesitancy and move forward with what will benefit the entire team can help shake that shybrid mentality.

The future of retention is driven by choice and communication

The impacts of being shybrid may be felt for years to come. With one of the biggest risks for employers being talent retention, it's imperative to focus on what will make and keep your employees happy. 

With 77% of executives agreeing that their biggest growth driver for 2022 is hiring and retaining talent, workplace leaders lacking a desire to implement change will face the cost of losing their employees to more forward-thinking and flexible companies. Employees are demanding choice and are capitalizing on the opportunities available to get the options they want. Providing resources for the flexibility of remote work while effectively using office space and focusing on outcomes rather than output is key to retaining employees and attracting top talent. The way we've always done it is no longer a fallback, as employees have found their voice and demand change and improvement.