CoAdvantage- The rise of remote working during the COVID-19 pandemic – which we have written about previously here and here – is very likely to have a lasting impact on the workplace. Though we don’t expect a total conversion to remote working, hybrid arrangements where employees divide time between the office and working from home are likely to become widespread. “We could be in a hybrid workforce situation permanently,” Brooke Weddle, a partner at McKinsey & Co., told the Society for Human Resource Management.
Today, we want to look at what the rise of hybrid working arrangements could mean for HR and operations and how to best implement them to produce successful outcomes.
1: Managerial outreach
Liane Davey, cofounder of 3COze Inc. and author of You First: Inspire Your Team to Grow Up, Get Along, and Get Stuff Done, told The Harvard Business Review that it’s incumbent on leaders to take the initiative in reaching out. In other words, you can’t necessarily rely on employees to ask for help when they need support, and a hybrid model may make it easier for some employees to fall into the cracks and gaps left by a complicated working model.
2: Shift from a task-based organizing principle to an outcome-based organizing principle.
A task-based organizing principle – that is, an approach to work organized around what tasks workers undertake and how – works well when you have direct and unhindered oversight. However, that begins to fall apart under hybrid models because it’s harder to stay on top of employees, coordinate, and communicate.
Instead, employers should consider shifting to an outcome-based organizing principle, argues HR Executive. This shifts the focus from procedural (what workers do, when they do it, how they do it) to results-based (did they get their work done)? There are legitimate reasons to use task-based organizing principles (depending on the worker or workforce, it may be necessary to keep performance on track) but under a hybrid working model, an outcome-focused approach may be more successful.
3: Let data guide performance assessments.
The above point has implications for performance management. Many organizations may wish to re-think how they assess performance and productivity after switching to outcome-focused approaches.
Relatedly, research shows a mismatch between managerial estimates and actual productivity metrics. Gartner found that nearly two-thirds (64%) of managers believe office workers are more productive than remote workers when the reverse is often true. Full-time remote workers are 5% more likely to be high performers than office workers. Performance appraisals need to be blind to work situations and focus instead on the productivity and outcomes produced by workers.
4: Create formal hybrid working policies.
Hybrid work arrangements can impact all aspects of employee experience. The three points address only a few potential implications. If decisions around hybrid working are made haphazardly or piecemeal, your organization is opening itself to a lot of risks – inconsistent work outputs, accusations of discriminatory behavior, negatively impacted employee morale., etc. To ensure consistency and equitability, create formal, written policies that dictate who can work under what arrangements under what circumstances. If your organization makes other related changes (e.g., updating performance assessment processes), formalize those changes too.
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