How to decide for office work, remote work or even hybrid work? You may be wondering which one is the right solution for your company, correct? Well, to be on the safe side many organizations decide to go for the hybrid work model believing that this won’t turn their overall working habits upside down. They hope that connecting the office with work from home is going to be a win-win solution as people are getting flexibility and at the same time the office still stays in place. Well… let me disappoint you here. Hybrid work does not focus on location but a scalable approach towards a flexible workspace.

Company-wide voting

Some organizations leave the work policy decision to employees. I’ve come across a company that decided to perform a survey where all employees could vote. The approach was “All for one, one for all” – whichever working model prevails, the result would be binding for everybody. In this case 60% of all workers have expressed their willingness to go back to the office. Surprised? No, as the majority were working in the customer service field with a relatively low pay and therefore no budget to adapt their homes to work remotely. They just preferred to appear in the office which was usually within walking distance from their homes. You may wonder what happened with the remaining 40% though… Well, the company started observing high employee turnover, especially within senior and leadership positions as people refused to commute to the office on a daily basis.

Another example happened a few months ago when a different company decided to perform a remote work survey – but only for managers. They left out other employees completely, claiming that business decisions should be made by the management. Is such an approach even worth elaborating on further? …I strongly believe that the times of such “subordination” are long gone.

 

The relevance of having an office

I believe I mentioned this in my previous articles – offices as we know them, should disappear. By this I mean cubicles and rows of desks that force people to sit straight for 8 hours with pre-planned coffee and lunch breaks. As the majority of businesses nowadays are in the service industry, the approach of clocking in and out is no longer relevant. That’s also the reason why we shouldn’t try to mirror the same rules and guidelines within the remote setup. You must know that I’ve seen companies that implemented time-tracking software and tools which measure the number of mouse clicks within an 8-hour work day. Those organizations claim to offer “flexible work” which is a major understatement.

If companies are willing to keep their office spaces then it’s about time to rethink the goals behind it. I strongly recommend taking a look at Dropbox and their new concept of “studios” or following Herman Miller for their insights. Some team members may want to just visit the office for collaboration purposes whereas others will prefer to be old school and work the same way as they did in the past. Now our job is to come up with the best possible solution for each particular business case, taking into account individual needs.

Offices should be about people rather than getting things done.

Assessing the company’s operations and business goals

Office, remote or hybrid work is a business model. It’s not an employee benefit or a trend that we must follow as everyone does. Before making binding decisions, we should determine what’s in it for us. What can we win? What can we possibly lose? There are however several factors that I recommend considering upfront. Those are:

  • Employees needs related to work-life balance

The possibility to design the workday without commuting and a 9 to 5 routine is certainly a blessing. Team members can plan everything according to their preferences. Of course, we must keep in mind that some general availability rules such as mandatory overlapping hours should be in place so that everyone remains on track.

  • Availability of talent

It’s definitely not a secret and recruiters will know that there’s an ongoing battle for talent worldwide. Limiting ourselves to just our local talent pool may be a bad decision. Therefore, to increase our chances to getting the best people onboard, we can definitely broaden our search and target markets with the highest number of experts that we’re looking for.

  • Office-related costs

Do we know how many employees actually stay at our office on a daily basis? I’ve performed numerous remote work audits where it’s become clear that workspaces are partially empty. So if a company offers work from home at least one or two days per week then the office (with its’ old design) immediately stops serving its purpose. That’s the reason why many companies have decided to cut down on their office spaces and start offering hot desks.

The future of work is in our hands

Bottom line – Let’s make wise decisions based on data. Rushing into statements such as “remote work for everyone” or “we must all return to the office” just generate chaos. Make sure to check out false starts that occurred at Apple, Morgan Stanley or even IBM. There is no one size fits all policy or solution to the future of work as we’re all in the phase of change. Follow others to get inspired but don’t copy their ideas without assessing and prioritising first. I recently heard a statement: “Well, renowned companies that have decided not to allow remote work can’t be wrong. They must know it all”. Do they?

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