Hybrid work is not the new kid on the block. The proportion of people working in a hybrid work environment has slowly increased over time, facilitated by advances in technology and the COVID-19 pandemic. In today’s world of work, hybrid workers make up a significant proportion of the workforce. About 74% of U.S. companies are either hybrid or plan on adopting a permanent hybrid work model.
This new work model can present challenges to managers and their organizations. In this brave, new world of hybrid work — with little experience of managing this type of work model — how can we create an effective hybrid work environment while sustaining employee retention and satisfaction? Let’s take a look.
Don’t Force People to Return To The Office: Adopt Hybrid As The “New Normal.”
Some organizations, particularly in the finance sector, have been relatively aggressive in pushing for staff to return to the office full-time or at least most of the time. This could be a surefire way to lose top talent. In the spring of 2022, The Myers-Brigg Company carried out a research study that analyzed remote, hybrid and onsite work models, and how these can relate to factors, such as managerial support and intention to leave.
The results provide useful insights into how we can create an environment that increases job satisfaction among hybrid workers. Based on the research, the number one factor predicting whether people were looking for a new job was the difference between how much time a hybrid worker spent in the office versus how much time they wanted to.
Also, individuals who were working in the office significantly more than they’d prefer were much more likely to consider leaving the company. And twice as many workers said they’d prefer working from home versus working in the office. Diving deeper into individual worker preferences:
- Only 3% of the group indicated having a preference to working in the office all the time.
- 19% said they’d prefer to work remotely all the time.
- 78% said they’d prefer a hybrid work model.
- Even among those currently entirely office-based, 70% indicated that they’d prefer working in a more hybrid way.
Give Hybrid Workers the Tools to Work From Home – And From the Office
Hybrid workers need to be able to work effectively both from home and from the office, and that can mean a duplication of information technology (IT) resources and other equipment. It may be tempting to cut costs by expecting hybrid workers to provide some of their own equipment for working from home, but this may be a false saving.
According to the research by The Myers-Briggs Company, workers who had to buy their own equipment had a higher chance of leaving the company. There’ll clearly be limits to what you can do to help — creating a home office for every employee is likely to be impractical — but whatever you can do is likely to pay dividends.
Provide Managerial Support
It may seem obvious to say “provide managerial support,” but it can be easy to overlook how important this is. Among several other benefits, workers who feel supported by their manager can feel more positive about their work and organization, a greater sense of belonging, less stressed and more included by their co-workers.
Furthermore, they can feel less likely to look for another job. And this is applied to hybrid workers just as much as to office-based or 100% remote workers. Hybrid workers who feel supported by their manager can have a better chance of feeling increased satisfaction with both their onsite and home office.
Get Socialization Right
When hybrid workers come into the office, especially those who rarely do, try to find the right balance for socialization. Many will enjoy meeting their co-workers in the flesh but be wary of forcing people to socialize when they really do not want to. There is of course a personality dimension to this. In the research mentioned above:
- Only 6% of extraverts agreed or strongly agreed that they felt forced to socialize with their co-workers.
- But 29%, almost a third of Introverts, felt this way.
If you have personality preferences for extraversion yourself, remember that not everyone is the same! And don’t forget that many people still have concerns regarding socializing and COVID.
Don’t Forget the Office Environment
When hybrid workers come into the office, they need a place to work. If they can have their own dedicated work space, that can help increase job satisfaction and feelings of being valued by the organization. If that is not possible, ensure that the office has plenty of quiet spaces your workers can use, as well as spaces where they can socialize if they want to.
Creating an effective hybrid work environment not only can influence better outcomes with work performance, but also with training. Learning how to manage a hybrid work model also includes knowing how to engage learners in a hybrid learning environment as well. Individualized and customized learning pathways can help maintain learner engagement in a hybrid setting. While some team members may want a more involved, hands-on approach, many employees may prefer learning at their own pace in a more on-demand manner.
With the shift to hybrid work also comes a cultural shift in the organization. These past few years, more organizations have become aware of how vital diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) and employee wellness is to maintaining a positive workplace. In a study, 73% of people indicated that their company needs to rethink their company culture. While adapting your work environment to hybrid, consider how the culture’s values and mission can also adapt to satisfy today’s new world of work.