The Future of Work is Hybrid
By and large, for the past 100 years, three things mattered most to employees when it came to defining what they looked for in a job: income, enjoyment, and contribution. These three factors were the Core-3 Employee Motivations. Employees would leave jobs searching for better ones to earn more money, experience greater satisfaction, or make more profound contributions to their organizations.
Since the start of the new decade, a fourth factor has become equally important: the ability to work remotely.
In a recent Leading Peers seminar, The New Jobs Market and New Hiring Practices, recruiting expert Kellen Smith explained, "The first question candidates now ask is not about salary, or benefits, it's whether or not the job is remote."
Today, business leaders must master hybrid workforce policies the way their predecessors needed a skilled understanding of compensation schemes, company culture, and employee engagement. Fortunately, five key insights help leaders transition from the Core-3 era to the Core-4 Employee Motivations.
Five Insights for the Core-4 Employee Motivations
1. The New Hybrid Motivation: The new motivation for most employees to work all or part of the time remotely does not reduce the importance of the previous three. It's an add-on, not a replacement, to the Core-3. Compensation, enjoyment, and contribution will continue to matter, and it's hard to imagine that any of those three elements will ever lose importance. The conclusion for leaders is that they cannot abandon what they've done to master the Core-3. Instead, the Core-3 should be adjusted and improved, much like it was necessary to make constant adaptations to these elements before 2020.
2. Levels of Remote Work: The level of remoteness that works best for each company will vary depending on three factors: CEO preference, workforce preference, and the nature of the work involved.
A CEO wanting to work remotely is likely to adopt a high level of remoteness for the entire organization to accommodate his personal preference and avoid creating an office environment where the whole team works without its leader onsite.
If a company's workforce favors remote work, remoteness will be higher to attract and retain top-performing employees.
If the nature of the work involved does not require a brick-and-mortar presence, the level of remoteness is likely to be high to lower office costs and time wasted on commuting.
3. Consider a Blended Work Model: A fully remote workforce that lacks in-person collaboration creates feelings of isolation and erodes company culture. Teams still need to meet in person to develop a strong level of emotional connection — the need for human interaction is not going away.
Virtual meetings can help maintain emotional connections, and for some relationships, that's enough to foster positive, collective performance. But for others, constant in-person encounters will be necessary to achieve the best results. For instance, the level of chemistry required between a CEO and a COO requires in-person collaboration. In many cases, a remote workforce that blends time in the office with work-from-anywhere options and recorded video communication can excel in the New Normal. For companies that forego the office entirely, periodic in-person meetings or social encounters can serve as the glue.
4. Leverage Technology: The hybrid model works best when technology effectively bridges remote teams. Cloud-based software for various functions such as video conferencing, text messaging, and file sharing is essential for collaboration. Avoiding excessive videoconferencing, or "Zoom fatigue," is critical. Team meetings should be as short as possible, with a clearly defined agenda and a facilitator to guide the discussions, so everyone remains fully engaged.
Companies not yet using video messaging for internal communication should adopt this tool quickly. Recorded video messages and meetings allow remote teams to work in different time zones and prioritize other deadlines. Video messaging software such as Loom will explode in the next few years.
Hybrid events can effectively bring an entire workforce together, with some meeting in person and others joining virtually. When organizing events of this nature, companies should utilize professionals with hybrid-event expertise.
5. A Competitive Advantage: Embracing the hybrid model is a pivotal competitive edge for any business and creates new opportunities to attract and retain top talent. Companies that do not offer a blended approach will fail to recruit the best people. It also provides flexibility as employees' needs and lifestyles change, including pregnancy, childcare/schooling, and physical illness or injury.
The future of work is hybrid. CEOs who acknowledge the adaptability, flexibility, empathy, and transparency required for this modern transition are leading the businesses that will thrive in this new environment.