Is Hybrid Work Working For Leaders And Employees?

Is Hybrid Work Working For Leaders And Employees?
Summary: As more and more companies experiment with a hybrid work schedule, leaders and employees are having different opinions on whether it's working or not.

Is Productivity Paranoia Going To Kill Hybrid Work?

So far, this new method seems to work out for many organizations and their workers, but there are still some kinks. As more and more companies experiment with the new concept of the hybrid work schedule, leaders and employees find it harder to separate what's working from what's not. While employees claim their productivity is up, that's not what leaders believe to be true.

Hybrid work schedules, where employees work a few days from home and others from the office, are rapidly growing in popularity. It's clear to see why this type of flexible scheduling appeals to employees—they have the option to work on-site in an office setting when they prefer, while still having more flexibility than they would with a regular nine-to-five schedule. For employers, it can also be a win-win—they retain their workforce and save money on office space because employees don't always need to be in the office, or even on-site, every day. According to McKinsey, a hybrid working environment aligns with the DEIB efforts of different organizations. However, does everyone win?

The Rise Of Productivity Theatrics And Paranoia

Leaders fear lost productivity among employees, even though research proves otherwise. 87% of employees report that they are productive at work [1]. At the same time, only 12% of leaders believe that their team is productive. Most claim that the shift to hybrid work has made it challenging to have confidence that employees are being productive.

This comes from the fact that many organizations use technology to track employee activity. This means that employees lack context on how and why they're being tracked, which can undermine trust and lead to a paradox called "productivity theater." Leaders fear that lost productivity is due to employees not working, even though hours worked, and other activity metrics, have increased. The rise of productivity theatrics and paranoia risks making hybrid work unsustainable, as it's causing leaders to be more controlling about how their employees spend their time, which could create a lack of trust among workers.

How To Overcome This Problem With Hybrid Work

1. Ensure Employees' Work Aligns With Company Goals

This process is not always easy, but a hybrid work schedule can be a great way to give employees some flexibility. If you switch from a traditional work schedule to a hybrid one, there are ways to ensure your employees' work aligns with company goals.

Decide what type of schedule you want before you bring it up with your staff. This step may seem obvious, but it's important to know what type of system will best suit your company's needs before suggesting one. Moreover, leaders need to create clarity and purpose for their people. And defining what work doesn't matter is just as important as defining what does.

2. Reward Employees' Impact, Not Activity

Gaining a better understanding of what employees are doing, their level of engagement, and how they spend their time is key to understanding how we can best support them. In either case, by rewarding employees' impact rather than their activity—or the hours they put in—you can help them become more fulfilled and engaged with their work lives.

Many leaders believe that there's no way to truly gauge an employee's productivity unless they're physically present at work. The problem with this approach is that it rewards employees for simply being present at their desks and not for contributing to the company on any meaningful level. If your company doesn't have a well-defined set of goals and metrics that can be measured, it becomes very difficult to determine what truly impacts your bottom line.

3. Collect Employee Feedback Regularly

The hybrid work schedule is a subject of much contention. To get a complete picture, it's important to collect feedback from employees on their experiences with this type of schedule. Some people find that they have more time to spend with family or outside interests, while others find that they are constantly juggling activities and can never get caught up.

Showing employees that you care means you need to create a continuous feedback loop. For example, 76% of employees say they'd stay at their company longer if they could benefit more from learning and other opportunities. Leaders should invest in their current employees to build trust and participation in feedback systems. It's all about listening and taking action on the information gathered.


Now more than ever, it's the job of every leader to balance employee success with the success of their organization.


[1] Hybrid Work Is Just Work. Are We Doing It Wrong?

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