How is your team doing with remote and hybrid work? How are you (the leader) doing managing the nuances of this complex new system? Not very well? Join the club. More executives I’ve spoken to in the past three months are growing frustrated with the time sink of negotiating individual work arrangements for their team members.
What used to be a given, that work would be done onsite for 8 hours a day, has gone out the window. If you are flexible and to your staff’s delight, have embraced the anything goes philosophy, you are still spending an inordinate amount of productivity time discussing or debating the nuances of the why so and so is working remotely versus on site. So, what to do to save your sanity and keep productivity high enough to meet profitability goals. Set down some rules, take back command and recreate the working environment that you know you need to achieve meaningful results. The very results that will give employees raised and job security. What that looks like for you will be totally different from the company or colleague next door. One size fits all does not work anymore.
This is not to say that you shouldn’t take special situations into consideration. For instance, women in the workforce who have young ones at home, are disproportionately and negatively affected by the lack of quality, reliable, accessible childcare, period, full stop. If you want to make lasting change for workplace equity, take up this challenge and advocate for universal, high quality, affordable childcare.
If you think you are doing a great job giving employees complete choice, think again. It will be another time sink, but you must make the rounds and have deeper conversations across work settings to hear how complicated the hybrid system really is. I am certain you will find it isn’t working as well as you’ve been led to believe. I venture you will be shocked as well. Shocked by just how overwhelmed and disenfranchised your on-site workers are feeling. Why are they feeling this way you'll wonder. Because, they are experiencing the hybrid system as a total burden. Everything happening in the on-site workplace previously done by numerous employees, is now all falling on them. Think about it. Who used to open and distribute the mail? How is hard copy mail getting delivered to off site workers? Do you even have a receptionist/office assistant anymore?
It's not all doom and gloom but I think you’ll find this excellent article from Harvard Business Review relevant and helpful, which is what I’m all about. Read the Five Challenges of Hybrid Work by Martine Haas and let me know what you think. Communication and listening are only the beginning. And yes, unfortunately for leadership, it’s going to continue to take up a lot of your productivity time but in the end it will be worth it. Let’s solve this puzzle together.