Businesses nationwide are still trying to determine how to retain employees and build a company culture in a hybrid and work-from-home world. This is a particular challenge for companies with offices that sit empty for several days each week.
The solution of “just require everyone to come into the office again” has not worked in many cases, and most knowledge workers now expect a hybrid or work-from-home option. While some business owners see this as a problem, others see it as an exciting opportunity to reinforce the growth they’ve achieved over the past few years.
In a recent interview, Business Success Consulting Group’s Adi Klevit discussed this challenge with Radious CEO Amina Moreau. They discussed how companies are making the hybrid model a permanent fixture and what they can do to continue creating a collaborative culture.
How to Build a Collaborative Hybrid or Work-from-Home System
Many businesses face challenges when determining whether to go hybrid, authorize work-from-home, or require all employees to come into the office.
Here are a few:
- Sunk cost bias – the company has an existing space and may not know what to do with it.
- Employee feedback – some employees want to continue working remotely, while others want more face-to-face time.
- Past failures – the management team has tried solutions that have failed.
- Consolidating successes – the business has grown as it hired out-of-state employees, accessed a more enthusiastic workforce, or leveraged specialized employees who work at odd hours – around family obligations.
With this in mind, throwing in the towel and telling your employees that you need them to come into the office full-time can be tempting. After all, it was the norm in 2019; it could become the norm again. Some businesses have required employees to come back into the office full-time, and a recent Forbes article suggests that this led to a drop in productivity.
So, what is the solution?
Build a system that works for your company and your employees.
Here are some suggestions that you can use as you create a unique system that supports your growth-minded and collaborative culture but doesn’t lead to a drop in productivity or a mass exodus of your existing staff:
1. Ask employees what they need.
It is tempting to read articles online about how everyone just needs to come back into the office – and check out cherrypicked quotes that suggest people want to come in. The United States has over 10 million companies, each with its own culture and expectations.
Instead of reading about the experience of other businesses, talk to your employees. What do they need when it comes to a workspace? Do they want to go into the office daily? Weekly? Monthly? Quarterly? What collaboration style works best for them? How would they like to connect with coworkers? What challenges do they face with the remote, hybrid, and in-office models?
Finding out what your employees need, rather than reading an article meant to appeal to a general audience, will provide you with much better and more specific information.
2. Examine the metrics.
Some companies are trying to solve a non-problem when they ask employees to come into the office. If the company has been growing and scaling with everyone working remotely and existing systems – why are you trying to make a change? If the company growth has been stunted, is remote/hybrid work the problem – or is the real issue something else?
3. Look at solutions that have already been implemented.
Since 2021, many businesses worldwide have tried to figure out a hybrid model. Your team has likely tried a few things. Examine those solutions compared with your company metrics. Did they increase efficiency and productivity? Did they improve company morale?
Look at what worked and what did not, and make sure you stop doing anything that isn’t supporting employee morale and boosting growth.
4. Carefully implement other solutions that align with employee and company needs.
You now have a list of solutions. Some were employee suggestions, some worked in the past, and some failed. Once you have stripped out anything that did not work, you need to reinforce what works and implement new solutions to align with your company culture and continued business growth.
5. Track your metrics to see what solutions are really working.
Keep track of your metrics and note any dips as you implement solutions. In this way, you can build a balanced approach to the remote/hybrid/in-office problem.
As you review the above steps, you may be examining your company metrics and realize that the existing approach is working. Great! Be sure to document the processes and procedures you are using now so that you can continue to support growth with your working system.
Do you have questions about how to systematize growth? Get in touch with the experts at Business Success Consulting Group!