Why an Empowered Hybrid Work Model Might Be Right for You

Empowered hybrid goes all-in on two surprisingly complementary notions: full flexibility for people to work from home and rich opportunities to be together.

As the country rolls farther into the “live with it” phase of the pandemic, companies of all sizes must find the work model that best suits them and their employees.

Some are asking employees to return to the office full time. One notable example is Goldman Sachs, which reopened its Wall Street headquarters in February (and saw only about half of the building’s 10,000 workers show up, despite giving more than two weeks’ notice).

At the other end of the spectrum, companies like Dropbox, Shopify and Atlassian have chosen the all-remote or remote-first route.

Then there’s the big middle: Organizations that have adopted some flavor of a hybrid model, which combines home and office working. The degree of flexibility in those arrangements can vary widely by company, from expecting staff to be remote part of the time and in the office at others to leaving the decision on where to work entirely up to each employee.

The pandemic showed corporate America that many people in jobs thought to be in-the-office, 9-5 roles can be effective — and sometimes more so — working from home. It has become harder to ask employees to leave their home offices, more flexible schedules and yes, their comfy clothes, to put in hours in an office without a very good reason. New work models are required.

What Does ‘Empowered Hybrid’ Mean?

Our company chose to embrace what could be called an empowered hybrid model. What is it? In a nutshell, we have made it voluntary, for most positions, to come into the office. Our policy: Get your work done wherever works best.

But there’s another side to empowered hybrid which recognizes a truth that can get lost in the rapid move to more flexible work arrangements: Some people still want to work in the office. (As an extreme extrovert, I’m one of them. I’m now back in the office four days a week, though I don’t expect others to follow suit.)

Empowered hybrid also reflects another inescapable reality: Significant benefits can accrue when employees are together, even if just occasionally. Relationships, the kind built when people are face to face rather than just connecting online, still matter. People tend to trust each other more when they have an opportunity to look each other in the eye. (Zoom helps, but it’s not always enough.)

So, while our company is giving employees the freedom to decide where they work, we’re also doing some things to make it easier and more appealing when they want to come to the office or get together at an offsite. The essence of empowered hybrid is enabling employees to live their best professional lives, in whatever location they choose.

Related Article: Your Remote Teammate Isn’t Disengaged, You Just Didn’t Set Them Up for Success

A Deliberate Approach to Face to Face Meetings

As part of this, we have redesigned our San Francisco headquarters. The first floor is for customer meetings and demos, and the third consists of employee office space and conference rooms. The second, though, is new open space for what we call “onsite off-sites.” That’s where our folks in the Bay Area and around the world can gather, at their discretion, when they feel it makes sense, whether that be a sales strategy meeting or a team-building retreat.

When these deliberate get-togethers happen, we work to create a great all around experience from the facilities down to their lunches. Teams arriving at one of these “onsite off-sites” will be greeted with working WiFi, Zoom rooms if they want them, white boards and any other supplies they might need.

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