Six Strategies for Thriving in the Hybrid Workplace

December 15, 2022 John Hester

Hybrid and fully remote work is here to stay—and that is a good thing. In the United States, it is estimated that 56% of jobs can be done remotely. And of those jobs, a recent study by OWL Laboratories and Global Workplace Analytics found 42% of employees prefer to be fully remote and 36% prefer a hybrid working style. Only 22% of employees prefer to be in the office full-time.

Offering a full-time or hybrid work option is critical to both retention and attraction. Two-thirds of US-based employees surveyed in July 2022 said they would immediately start looking for other jobs if the ability to work from home was eliminated—and 39% said they would quit right away.

While most employees feel they are more productive working from home, there are three areas where employees feel more effective face-to-face—collaboration, getting consensus, and advancing their career.

At Blanchard, we surveyed human resources and learning and development leaders to discover trends going into 2023. They report the top 2023 challenges as:

  • Having enough capacity and resources to meet the needs of workforce development
  • Reducing turnover and attrition
  • Improving engagement and experience

Combine the information above and you can see how important it is to create an environment where employees thrive in a hybrid or fully remote work environment. To make that happen requires us to focus on three areas: the organization, leadership at all levels, and the individual employee.

Here are six things we can do (and there are others) to create an environment where everyone can thrive.

Two Things the Organization Can Do

  1. Organizations need to stop creating blanket hybrid policies. Work from home policies are best determined at the team level. A recent Gallup study showed that only 13% of hybrid work policies were determined by the work teams and around 50% were determined by the top leadership of the organization or by the manager. Here is the important data: almost half of the hybrid employees (46%) were engaged at work when the work team determined the hybrid work policy. According to Gallup, overall engagement in 2022 is at 32%.

Blanchard’s study shows “organizations reporting high engagement were twice as likely to have no expectations of onsite work, giving employees more flexibility and choice.”

  1. Organizations can invest in video meeting technology. Throw out the star phone that sits in the middle of the conference table. Create rooms where everyone in the room can be clearly seen by remote participants and remote participants can be clearly seen by everyone in the room. Ensure that everyone can clearly hear each other and that chat is available and can be seen by all.

Two Things All Leaders Can Do

  1. Leaders can work with their people to set clear expectations. When handing out assignments, be clear regarding what is needed and by when. Use online tools to help team members keep everyone on the team up to date on their progress. Collaborate on expectations regarding being on camera, core working hours, expected response times to text and email, and other ways of working.
  2. Leaders can ensure team members feel connected to them and to the team. Do this by having regular one-on-one meetings with each team member, being on camera together in most meetings, being fully present and engaged with them in meetings, and being responsive to text and email. Pay attention to team member wellbeing and assist when possible.

Two Things Each of Us Can Do

  1. Each of us needs to be fully present and engaged. That means we are prepared and focused in meetings with no distractions. It is scientifically proven that multitasking is not humanly possible and is damaging to both our brain and our reputation. It also means we are timely in our responses to text and email, even if it is just to say when we will text or write back.
  2. Each of us needs to focus on our individual wellbeing. Workplace wellbeing has taken a huge hit over the past few years. Almost half of workers report that work-related stress has increased substantially in the past year. We all need to take better care of ourselves. That means setting clear boundaries on our work. If you have not done so already, discuss expectations around availability and work hours with your manager and stick to them.

Summary

A silver lining of what we have all gone through in the past few years is that employees around the globe want more from their workplace experience. We have an opportunity to create working environments where everyone can feel a sense of purpose and belonging and where everyone thrives in this new world of hybrid work.

About the Author

John Hester

John Hester is a senior consulting partner with The Ken Blanchard Companies®. His focus is on the practical application of leadership development tools, skills, and models in both individual and organizational settings. John holds a master’s degree in adult education from Oregon State University and a bachelor’s degree in business information management from Brigham Young University-Hawaii.

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