Where to work?

“Is your work hybrid?” and “How many days do you have to go in?” are now commonplace questions being asked amongst peers. Remote working rooted itself in the pandemic, and the debate over what is more productive continues. It’s a double-edged sword. Employee happiness and satisfaction are paramount, but there are layers to the company’s culture that may be at stake.

Employees at Zoom, shockingly, have been asked to return to their place of work regardless of the stats proving employees have increased work/life balance and boosted financial wellbeing from being hybrid or indeed fully remote. Let’s not get into the debate further and discuss the benefits and practicalities of both sides.

Flexible working has two key dimensions – time and location. In many jobs, giving people flexibility on WHEN they work is positive provided they deliver on the goals and tasks set out for them. This can build a sense of ownership for obtaining results, and for many situations, it works really well for both Employer and Employee.

Hybrid and remote working require managers to be very clear on their expectations, which again is a positive aspect of good management and good communication. If the nature of work requires employees to be available to customers or other team members at set times, then there is little scope for time flexibility, regardless of how much employees might want it.

Teamwork is dependent on people spending time together, though, and while an established friendship between colleagues will be maintained, it is said that establishing new friendships is more difficult with fully remote working. Time spent in the company of others in ‘real life’ is proven to establish high-quality, regular communication and cohesion.

In terms of WHERE the employees are working, then this is more complex. The pandemic has created an expectation that home working is almost an employee right, at least on a few days per week. So as a CEO, do you fully embrace this shift in attitude or fight it? It’s a tough decision when trying to find a solution where existing and new staff are happy.

We have a number of clients who have created business models around 100% home-based workers, and when systems are designed properly, they work. There are lower-cost models that enable access to a wider talent pool. The management challenges involve the rate of learning and social fulfillment from your working environment, so these two aspects need to be considered thoroughly.

We have businesses that have fully embraced the concept and settled on a hybrid structure. In these cases, there are ‘non-negotiable’ rules that balance the freedom given on time and location. Team office days, training days, and social occasions become much more important in these hybrid models.

There are also some businesses where office working is still the best model due to the nature of the business. Where face-to-face team collaboration is core to the prime activity, then virtual or hybrid working is never going to produce the same outcomes as working together in an office. (E.g., creative businesses, production businesses, etc.) The key here is creating a working environment where people love to be. Then there is no compromise.

Founders need to consider their brand, mission, and vision; what matters to your business’ core values, and what environment and culture you want to create to make your place of work special, while appropriate to the job you do. Operationally, what’s necessary to make home-working for your team easy? And how do you want your dream clients or customers to feel when coming into the office? What aspects of culture are lacking? If you choose to be hybrid or fully remote, who can drive the social aspects and events for you? Many employers we know have conducted surveys, but with rising costs to travel into work yet rising costs for energy at home, there’s probably a need to discuss at every review with your team, possibly every quarter or six months. The trend is shifting all the time depending on the sector.

My key message here is don’t sit on the fence. Be bold. Ask for input. Then decide what’s best for your company and deliver on the key traits that make the model you have chosen work brilliantly.

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Written by admin | Date: 26/09/23