The familiarity of face-to-face

Understanding hybrid work collection (Part 2 of 5)


There are some common concerns employers have about remote work. Perhaps you’ve heard these arguments before.
🔴 It’s hard, if not impossible, to build company culture from afar.
🔴 It’s harder to communicate with remote employees.
🔴 Remote employees lose out on “water cooler conversations”, which are good for building relationships and spurring spontaneous collaboration.
🔴 Remote employees are passed over for promotions because managers can’t see them working.
Face-to-face work is familiar, and most of us feel like we know how to manage employees in-person. All our concerns seem to be easily addressed by just calling people back to the office. But mandating a return to the office might push away some of our talent.
You may have read stories about leaders who instituted immediate return-to-work policies. The popular thinking is that employees work harder and have a stronger sense of company culture if they’re sitting sandwiched between two cubicle mates.
Okay, that’s not how they state it. But it is how some employees feel about such policies.

💔 The disconnect

According to a study by Owl Labs, 39% of respondents would immediately quit their job if remote work was suddenly taken away from them. 66% would begin looking for other work.
On the other side, a survey of 2,300 US senior managers found that 66% expected to begin full-time return-to-office policies. Only one-third said they would support long-term hybrid work policies.
One common employee complaint is that they’re asked to go to the office, only to hang out in virtual meetings all day anyway. It’s hard to find the value in commuting to work when the same work can be done from home.

Stylistic still GIF of a subway carriage with commuters

GIF by @BrittDoesDesign

☝️ For some managers though, it’s easier to ask everyone back into the office because it feels more familiar.
But now that people have had a taste of remote work, some are reluctant to return. That doesn’t mean they’re bad employees. It means they’ve discovered something about work-life balance that makes them happier and more productive at home.
It’s clear that if we want to retain our talent, we need to find the disconnect between the company’s demands and the employee’s desires.
If those 66% of senior managers are right, they’ll lose a good portion of their talent. On the other hand, if employees don’t consent to work in the office at least some of the time, they may be shown the virtual door. 🚪

💗 How to solve the disconnect

Hybrid work can help us solve the disconnect.
There’s a reason so many people are talking about it. It’s a way to compromise and get the most out of everyone.
The challenge is getting it right. Hybrid isn’t just about how many days per week a person works from the office. It’s about the flexibility of working where and when it makes the most sense.
We can address every one of the above concerns without sacrificing productivity, communication, or culture. Throughout the rest of this series, we’ll talk about specific things you can do to get the most out of hybrid work.

🗝️ Your key takeaway

Many employees have enjoyed the benefits of remote work and are reluctant to give them up. Employers are now in a position where they must find a way to compromise or risk losing top talent. Hybrid work policies, if they’re done right, can solve the issue.

💬 Over to you

What reasons have you heard for asking employees to come back to the office? Do you agree or disagree with those reasons?

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