As vaccination rates increase and infection rates decline, companies are exploring what a return to the office will look like. Both companies and employees agree that the future of the office is likely to be a “hybrid” model. Which could require many employees to split time between working from home and working in the office. While millennials may adapt faster to this, here are 5 ways older workers can get ready for this new hybrid work model. […]
NOTES: 5 Ways Older Workers Can Get Ready for Hybrid Work Model
A recent joint study by WeWork and Workplace found that some employees are willing to give up benefits and perks to have more flexibility about where they work, how, and when they work.
Definition of hybrid work model: This is a combination of working at home, the company headquarters, satellite offices, co-working spaces and public “third spaces,” like a library or café. In some cases, employees may even split workdays between different locations. This definition is from the joint work by WeWork and Workplace Intelligence.
But hybrid workplaces come with their own challenges, and going into it unplanned is like asking for disaster. Some of the issues that will require good consideration are the management of team members working remotely or in the office at different times. Careful planning will also go into staggered scheduling of meetings, office presence or all inclusive collaboration sessions.
If you’re getting ready to navigate a hybrid workplace, here are five ways to set yourself up for success.
1. Understand expectations
Understand the rules of the game in order to play. Know what your employer’s policies are with regard to remote work vs. in-office days. Be prepared ahead by talking to your managers, set expectations, and understand the new schedules (and opportunities) going forward. Start from how your usual workweek is structured. Note the days that are meeting-heavy or require access to files and other resources that would make being in the office better. Then check the days your team has staff meetings, so you can catch up in person. Finally, look out for days that you need personal high focus on assignments, less stress from commuting and when you need time for caregiving responsibilities.
2. Communicate more effectively
Learn to improve your workflows, style and tools of communication so you can stop or reduce ping-ponging of email messages back and forth.
3. Watch out for overwork
Have conversations with your manager about work expectations and “when good enough is good enough.” This will ‘slow’ your pursuit of perfection because you are worried that if it’s not perfect, you’re going to lose your job. Also explore coming into the office on “meeting-free” days (or half-days) so you can devote time to more focused work.
4. Focus on performance over presence
As a remote employee going forward, you should keep better track of how you’re spending your time, including the projects you’re working on and the results you’re achieving on those projects. Hybrid workplaces, ideally, will shift from measuring value based on your physical presence in the office to measuring performance. Being able to document what you’re doing and how well you’re doing it will be useful, especially when your boss can’t always see you at work.
5. Get comfortable with change
Both employees and employers are going to have to endure some trial and error to get the right balance for their teams.
“So many people are averse to failure. Everything must work. Yet, Science is just failure with notes. Take note of what works and what doesn’t, and proceed from there.”
As everyone find the fit that works best for them, keep the lines of communication open with your supervisor and team.
Suggested Hybrid Work Model Book Readings: (1) Work Together Anywhere: A Handbook on Working Remotely — Successfully — for Individuals, Teams & Managers. Co-authored by career-advice expert Lisette Sutherland. (2) A World Without Email: Reimagining Work in an Age of Communication Overload. Authored by Cal Newport. (3) Anxiety at Work: 8 Strategies to Help Teams Build Resilience, Handle Uncertainty, and Get Stuff Done. Coauthor by Chester Elton.
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For those who return fully to the office, the answer is likely a return to the old way of doing things. For those who decide to go fully remote, the answer is likely to completely embrace and perfect the systems that they’ve used to survive the past 16 months.
Hybrid work requires a unique approach that involves more learning, more planning, and more tweaking. And the 3 things that your business needs to succeed at hybrid work are;
- A remote-first mindset.
- A commitment to asynchronous work.
- A workflow management solution.
A remote-first mindset.
Hybrid working is a lot like being friends with a vegetarian — you always need to keep them in mind when you’re making dinner plans. Embrace remote work tools, and plan every single meeting with remote employees in mind. Also, don’t forget to establish virtual touchpoints with management and mentors.
A commitment to asynchronous work.
Asynchronous work means working independently and on your own time. It simply means that an individual’s role in a task isn’t dependent on the presence or participation of anyone else.
A workflow management solution
Once your workflows are established, share them widely. Clearly defined workflows increase transparency, build alignment, and enable a remote-first approach. They tie everything together, providing a clear path to success for all employees.
If the above 3 things that your business needs to succeed at hybrid work are not sufficient, check below and read the blueprint for designing hybrid work policies.
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Shifting to remote work should not be the only focus of work redesign. A policy declaring that people must work remotely, or even one saying they can work whenever and wherever they want can have issues. It can easily become pressure to work longer hours and be available 24/7—leading to burnout over time.
There are two important elements of the initiative studied by Erin L. Kelly and Phyllis Moen. The are; training managers to shift how they approached their roles and how they can help their teams to identify and reduce low-value work.
First, managers need to express support of employees’ personal lives and to clearly articulate performance goals and expectations. This help managers to focus on monitoring results rather than “face time” at the office.
Secondly, structured team discussions helped overloaded employees identify changes they could make as individuals and teams. This work redesign approach ultimately changed everyday work practices. Such as, reducing the number of meetings or the number of people required to attend them, and increasing the ability to work remotely. It also help with the identification of low-value work that teams can reduce and still hold work hours steady.
These changes improved well-being and work/life integration for employees and managers. There was an increase in job satisfaction, and the company benefited from reduced costs associated with turnover among valuable employees.
But such benefits arise only when employees feel they can choose where and when they work – not by mandating some particular mix of remote and in-office work. It is also critical that managers and coworkers respect workers’ personal and family situations. In other words, the benefits documented come not from a policy allowing remote work per se, but from gaining a sense of control and support.
No One Size Fits All
The exact mix or blend of remote and in-office work may depend on the work being done and the personal lives of the workforce, but working at home exclusively only works well for some employees and roles. However, the research shows that having some say in when, where, and how they work is highly valued by many employees, and can be good for a company’s bottom line.
The work redesign approach deployed in this study did not set up formal policies laying out how much time was expected in the office. It does not also require individuals to get permission from their managers to work from home. Instead, it encourages regular conversations about how people hoped to work and how the team could coordinate to do its best work. Thereby, setting the stage for adaptable and customized ways of working.
This is the perfect moment to launch a work redesign initiative like the one researched. This can be done by inviting teams to discuss and learn from how they adapted during the pandemic and how they struggled, and to imagine what might work well for them. Erin and Phyllis created free training resources from their study, including a facilitator’s guide to implementing this kind of work redesign program.
Erin L. Kelly is the Sloan distinguished professor of work and organization studies at the MIT Sloan School of Management. Phyllis Moen holds the McKnight endowed presidential chair in sociology at the University of Minnesota. They are the authors of Overload: How Good Jobs Went Bad and What We Can Do About It.
Emotional stress, including “stress from lack of control in the workplace or from life events,” creates susceptibility to physical illness. This was affirmed twenty years ago in a British Medical Journal article as summarized here by the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
Giving employees more control over their jobs does more than just reduce stress-related illness. It also decreases employee mortality. The key is empowering them to set their own goals, set their own schedules, prioritize their decision making and … have a voice in the goal-setting process.
Giving employees a chance to help shape the future of work will give them more skin in the game. It will deepen their connection to an organization. Finally, it gives them a sense of job ownership and control and will improve their well-being while benefiting the organization.
Self-love is the process of knowing yourself, connecting with your inner self, overcoming self-limiting beliefs, letting go of everything that doesn’t serve you, and falling in love with yourself.
Self-love helps silence the fear of rejection, our inner critic, and instead befriend it to serve us rather than taunt us. And we develop confidence in what we stand for, when we know who we are from within. With self-love, we are able to let go of self-judgment, negative thoughts, opinions, and people who are not aligned with us.
When we accept ourselves wholly for who we are, people around us also start seeing us in the same light. Likewise, when we love what we do and do what we love, we are alive and soaring in all that we do. This further draws others with positive energy to us. Ultimately, that power of love for yourself, will not only elevate your relationship with yourself, but enhance and deepen your relationship with work, family, life, and everything around you.