The global pandemic disrupted the traditional relationship between employers and employees and sped up the adoption of remote and hybrid work models.
In 2023, according to Forbes Advisor:
- 12.7% of full-time employees work from home.
- 28.2% work a hybrid schedule.
- 59.1% still work in the office.
The future workforce will be in hybrid, flexible models with in-office collaboration and accommodation for human connections.
But CEOs have a different agenda: Sixty-four percent of CEOs plan to kill hybrid work and return to pre-pandemic arrangements. And eighty-seven percent of those say they will do it by "linking financial rewards and promotion opportunities to in-office attendance."
I don’t know who will win the battle, but I know I will never work in a company office again, or on anyone's schedule but mine. Ninety-eight percent of workers agree—they want remote work at least some of the time.
What is Hybrid Work?
A blend of in-office, remote, and on-the-go hybrid allows workers to work when and where they are most productive.
But it isn't the same as work flexibility, which allows people to adjust their hours, schedule, or pace. Hybrid work is about where the work is done, not when or how.
Such work arrangements are not new, but the pandemic forced organizations to shift to remote work overnight. It also revealed the benefits of hybrid work, such as increased productivity, employee satisfaction, cost savings, talent attraction, and environmental sustainability. Plus, the pandemic changed the attitudes and expectations of workers, who now value more autonomy, flexibility, and work-life balance.
However, hybrid work also presents challenges, such as communication difficulties, coordination issues, cultural erosion, performance evaluation, and employee well-being. These challenges require a strategic and intentional approach to hybrid work management, and many CEOs aren't prepared for it. Some CEOs resist the hybrid work trend, demanding their employees return to the office. They cite reasons such as the need for face-to-face interaction, innovation, socialization, and the fear of losing control, visibility, and accountability.
How can you convince your CEO to support hybrid work?
An HR leader who wants to implement a hybrid work model may face some resistance from the CEO. Here are some strategies that you can use to persuade your CEO to support hybrid work:
Help employees become a trusted part of the solution: People management can trust will most easily get approval for remote work. For individuals who want to leave the office, what matters most is performing well at what they do and bringing value to the company. Help employees also understand that their decision will affect their co-workers.
Use data and evidence: Show your CEO the data supporting hybrid work's benefits. Include such data as improved productivity, employee engagement, retention, diversity, and customer satisfaction. Benchmark your competitors and industry leaders who have been successful with hybrid work and highlight the risks of losing talent and market share if you don't do it.
To get things started, calculate how much of your facilities budget you can cut where you have unused spaces.
To get you started, here is a sample of Gallup's findings from a national sample of remote-capable employees.
Advantages of Hybrid Work, Ranked by Response
Since you began your hybrid work arrangement, which of the following positive impacts on your work have you noticed? (% Mentioning)
Use humor and empathy: Acknowledge your CEO's concerns and fears and use humor to lower the temperature. Try joking about how you miss the office coffee machine but appreciate the time and money you save by working from home. You can also share some personal stories that show how hybrid work has improved work-life balance, well-being, and performance.
Use logic and reason: Explain the rationale behind hybrid work and how it aligns with the CEO's goals and values. For example, you can show how hybrid work can support innovation, collaboration, and customer service by allowing employees to choose the work environment for their tasks and preferences. You can also show how hybrid work will enhance agility, resilience, and sustainability by enabling you to adapt to changing market conditions and customer needs.
How to manage your hybrid workforce
Once you have convinced your CEO to support hybrid work, you must implement a hybrid work policy that works for your organization. Here are a few ideas that will help:
Establish clear guidelines: The most critical Instead of imposing rigid rules, provide clear guidelines and expectations for hybrid work, such as the minimum and maximum number of days employees can work from home, the core hours and days they need to be available, the communication and collaboration tools they need to use, and the performance metrics and feedback mechanisms they need to follow. These guidelines should be flexible and adaptable and should allow for individual and team preferences and needs.
Don't manage the details of every situation: Leave it to your managers to work out the details. They know their people and what they must accomplish and will chafe at having rules imposed on them.
Foster a hybrid culture: Create a culture that supports and celebrates hybrid work—promoting trust, autonomy, accountability, and inclusion. Trust your people and their managers to oversee their own work and time and empower them to make decisions and solve problems to deliver value. Hold them accountable for results and outcomes, not input and processes.
Include your remote and hybrid workers in daily happenings: events, activities, team decisions, common goal reviews, and company and industry news. Ensure they have equal access to opportunities, information, resources, and promotion opportunities. If you use an internal talent marketplace, ensure everyone has access to it.
Enable a hybrid infrastructure: Provide the infrastructure and support for hybrid work, such as the technology, equipment, and software that enable seamless communication, collaboration, and security. Ensure that your employees have access to reliable internet, phone, and videoconferencing services and comfortable workspaces at home and the office. Provide training and coaching for your employees and managers on using the hybrid work tools and practices effectively and efficiently.
Make meeting spaces comfortable and attractive: whether at your workplace or another location, make it easy for your people to focus on their common interaction.
Hybrid work is not a one-size-fits-all, canned solution. Your program will be unique. You must design and re-design it as your organization changes and grows.
Hybrid work is the future, and HR leaders must embrace and manage it well. By convincing your CEO to support hybrid work and implementing a hybrid work policy that balances flexibility and structure, you can reap the rewards of a well-managed hybrid workforce that is more productive and satisfied. If you manage it well, you will save on workspace costs, attract better talent, and contribute more to your ESG goals.
Pixentia is a full-service technology company dedicated to helping clients solve business problems, improve the capability of their people, and achieve better results.