I’ve written several times about the benefits and challenges of implementing a hybrid workforce. And I still believe that it’s true that employees want flexibility. They wanted flexibility before the pandemic, and they want it now. Creating a hybrid workforce isn’t easy. It involves looking at the current operation and making sure that employees can still maintain productivity and perform at a high level.
But there are some organizations that are anxious to “bring everyone onsite”. I get it. There are employees who loathe remote work. I understand.
I came across an article on Vice recently titled “People Aren’t ‘Addicted’ to Wearing Masks, They’re Traumatized”. It’s a good read and an important reminder that many of our employees have lost a family member or loved one over the past year. Many of our employees have experienced COVID-19 firsthand. While we might want to start normalizing our lives, many employees are still processing the emotional toll of the past year.
Which brings me back to the hybrid workforce. Even if your organization is one of those places that’s ready to start welcoming employees onsite, think about whether the principles of hybrid work could play a key role in the transition.
The Boston Globe had a great article titled “The Hybrid Workplace Probably Won’t Last”. We can debate all day whether or not the author is right. That wasn’t my takeaway. The workplace evolves all the time. Look how much its evolved over the past decade or so. The hybrid workplace may just be what we need to transition in a safe way. It will help employees and therefore, help the organization. So even if your organization doesn’t love the hybrid work model as a long-term strategy, that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t make a good transition plan.
This is all about trust. Employees want to feel safe at work. And organizations can help employees transition to a next normal by building on the trust relationship. Our friends at the Workforce Institute published some research on the subject of trust in the workplace. Here are a couple of key findings:
- 63% of employees and business leaders say trust must be earned.
- Over half of employees say that trust directly impacts their: sense of belonging (64%), career choices (58%), mental health (55%), and daily effort (68%).
Organizations are very focused on economic recovery right now and I totally recognize that. The best way to make that happen is by having employees who are ready to deliver high performance. Employees will do that when they feel safe and have the tools to do the job. Think about the best plan for making that happen.
Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby after speaking at the SHRM Annual Conference in Las Vegas, NV25