Before Covid, many employers were already offering a range of Smart Working or Agile Working programmes. In post-pandemic workplace discussions, the most widely-used term for this type of operation is Hybrid Working. There is, however, a significant difference in how employers need to approach the issues compared to former programmes.
Pre-Covid, Agile Working programmes were primarily focussed on organisational benefits. Although the language used was often about the ‘privilege’ of homeworking and the possibility to work beyond the office (with much talk of work-life balance, choice and flexibility), the employer focus was primarily on reducing overheads through real estate savings. Post-Covid, when millions of employees have tasted and enjoyed the homeworking experience, organisations need to respond to the demands of the workforce and these programmes are therefore driven by personnel expectations rather than corporate strategy. The workplace needs to be magnetic – to attract people back. So the strategy needs to be aligned.
Employers are now seeking to understand how their people work and interact. Elsewhere, we have discussed the 4Cs of office working. It is clear that for many (but not all), working at home suits the focussed work of Concentration, whilst Contemplation is particularly well suited to walking the dog or going for a run when you need to clear your head or mentally untangle a complex issue. These latter activities are usually less easy to do from the office.
Collaboration and Communication are well-suited to a shared physical environment when it is properly executed. Assuming that you have decided on (or are considering) this approach, you will be asking why people need to come to work and what they will do when they get there. This thinking will inform the way you (re)design your workplace and what settings and environments you provide.
Remember to take into account:
- Your corporate culture and brand (this is much more than just the logo and colour scheme)
- Why do people choose to work for the organisation?
- Why do they stay?
- How do teams interact internally and with other teams
- Some people would love to be back in the office full-time and others would be happy never to step over the threshold again
- Personality types affect attitudes. Introvert or extrovert?
- Age and ‘life stage’ also impact attitudes
- This a major Change Management programme so keep Change Management central to your discussions.