We are not the same people that went to work in early 2020. The collective experience of the past 2+ years has created a tectonic shift in how the world works, their professional expectations are a re-ordering of their aspirations. As the world is easing into ‘coping with virus waves’ mode, organizations are beginning to require a ‘return to office’. Except that there is push-back from employees. Employees everywhere are rethinking their “worth it” equation. There’s no going back. And organizations are having to meet employees where they are.
As leaders ponder over how to get the balance of a hybrid work structure right, the challenge for every organization is to arrive at an equation to balance employee requirements with the demands of challenging business outcomes in a sluggish economy. Hybrid work, is clearly, here to stay for the near future.
Microsoft’s 2022 Word Trend Index, a study of 31,000 people in 31 countries, seems to indicate employee preference for a hybrid work structure. Here are some findings from the study.
Clear shift in employee priorities vis-à-vis expectations from employers
Family, personal life, health and well-being now take priority over work. Perks like free food and a corner office are no longer what people value most.
Amongst the top things that employees want from an employer – beyond a good salary – are a positive culture (46% of survey respondents), mental health and well-being benefits (42%) and a sense of purpose or meaning (40%). Flexible hours are also a high ranker.
More employees are looking to design their work around creative pursuits that have become increasingly important to them. 70% of Gen Z (those born between the mid-1990s and early 2010s) and 67% of millennials (those born between 1980 and 1994) expressed their intention to have a “passion project” or side-business to earn extra income.
Meeting employee expectations will require a mindset shift. The best leaders will create a culture that embraces flexibility and prioritizes employee wellbeing – understanding that this is a competitive advantage to build a thriving organization and drive long-term growth.
Managers are feeling sandwiched
Business leaders and employees seem to be at opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of expectations and managers feel “wedged” between these expectations.
Leaders want a return to full-time work-from-office by 2022. However, workers aren’t playing ball, with 52% planning a shift to remote or hybrid working. 54% of managers feel that their company leadership is out of touch with what employees want. Almost three-quarters of managers feel they don’t have the influence or resources to change things for their team.
Managers are a critical bridge between employee expectations and leadership priorities. They hold the key to optimize the potential of hybrid work. Empower and equip them with the resources and training they need to manage a hybrid work-model.
Reimagining the hybrid workplace
As the world shifts to a hybrid work model, it is an opportunity for organizations and leadership to reimagine the role of the office and define the why, when, and how often teams should gather in person. It is important to design workplaces with enough flexibility to support every employee. A mix of quiet spaces, collaboration areas, and touch-down locations helps ensure everyone can be connected, engaged, and productive. Every organization needs to experiment before they arrive at what works for them. Does a fixed number of days a week work? Or fixed hours per week? Or do they get into office only for team meets? A plan for periodic offsites to connect with remote teammates? The key is for managers to provide clear guidance to employees as they experiment and learn what works for the team.
WFH is not equal to being ‘always available’
Data shows that the average employee spends more time on meetings, telecons, work texts, alongside an increase in workday span, after-hours and weekend work. An assessment of the Microsoft Teams platform has shown that since February 2020, the average Teams user saw a 252% increase in their weekly meeting time and the number of weekly meetings has increased 153%. The average Teams user sent 32% more chats each week in February 2022 compared to March 2020 and that figure continues to climb. Workday span for the average Teams user has increased more than 13% (46 minutes) since March 2020, and after-hours and weekend work has grown even more quickly, at 28% and 14%, respectively. Leadership would need to balance this out and combat digital exhaustion.
“Hybrid” is not just a work schedule or employee perk — it’s an entirely new way of working together. Apart from several challenges at arriving at an optimum hybrid model that fits the ethos of an organization, hybrid work raises questions of trust, accountability and measuring productivity.
EZDynamic can help you craft an exceptional hybrid work experience with the intent to have more engaged employees, more intentional and meaningful interactions, and, ultimately, better flexibility to integrate work and personal life. In the niche consultancy space, EZDynamic is a Management Consulting firm, based in New York, that caters exclusively to the Financial Services sector and provides consulting expertise through their 5 business verticals, viz. Business Strategy, Technology, Regulatory Implementation, Change Management & Staff Augmentation.
Schedule a call to learn how we can support your organization.