This remains a “big blind spot” for too many organizations, writes expert Ben Brooks.
When formulating your 2022 HR plans and budgets, have you adapted your learning and development plans and your talent management strategies to properly equip your employees to succeed in hybrid and remote work structures?
If you’re like almost every other organization that I speak to, then you’ve spent the past year and a half in complete “survival mode”, with ever-changing circumstances and challenges stacking up like brown Amazon boxes in. your recycling bin. . This pace, however, means that many are not devoting the time and attention to planning for the realities of 2022, such as setting up permanent hybrid and remote working arrangements, as they should. In fact, when it comes to thoughtfully and proactively examining the implications of hybrid and remote working, few people even have dedicated HR staff to address these issues.
The hybrid is here to stay
Based on recent data, the vast majority of knowledge worker employers intend to retain or expand some hybrid and / or remote version of work. In part, that’s because the genius is out of the bottle, when it comes to employee expectations for such flexibility. In fact, a significant segment of employees indicated that they would quit their jobs if they were not offered flexible work. And in this “second war for talent”, not offering this kind of work model will make it even more difficult to recruit vacant positions. Apparently, overnight, hybrid models (and in some industries or for some roles remote working) became quite as expected in the eyes of employees as health insurance benefits.
What we forget
But here’s the thing employees don’t think about: how badly they’re going to need to change the way they work and operate if they are to be successful in the future. Many senior executives stay awake at night worried about this, even if their impulse is to weather the rising tide, choosing instead to insist that everyone put their butt back in their Herman Miller Aeron chairs at the office.
From the start, I predicted that hybrid work could turn out to be a hot mess for organizations and employees. In reality, The Economist a published study showing that employees worked 30% more in this model, while still producing the same output, which means their efficiency dropped! Travel time savings have been eaten away by the change of context, poor communication, lack of direction, isolation and a host of other factors. For all the talk of burnout, I see this as a lagging indicator of upstream breakdowns in the way we organize and perform work.
Performance is contextual
This is why someone who may be a star under a manager or in a division may not be as successful once transferred to a new position. Imagine how much a professional athlete’s results can change when transferred to another team. The previous context for many professionals can be described in two simple words: “the office”. We shouldn’t assume that just placing an employee in their spare bedroom or at their kitchen table with a Lenovo laptop and a Zoom / Teams / Slack account is going to result in lasting efficiency and performance in the workplace. their roles that we expected in the office. .
See also: How do you define EX? Create “an irresistible organization”
The office was more efficient than you think
Turns out the office is a massive platform for most employee success, despite our layoffs from cubicles, overbooked conference rooms, slow elevators, and other mundane aspects of office life. Offices provide structure, resources, motivation, belonging, responsibility, casual communication, and social interaction that manifests as connection and pressure to be responsible, things that all collaboration software in the world does not. just can’t beat. In fact, even the software we designed to “replace” the desktop itself is often deeply rooted in physical design metaphors (desks, files, trash cans, or even intranets considered town squares).
Now, before you start to think of myself as part of an “old school” stronghold of office brethren, first realize that I started a remote business first (PILOT, a SaaS platform from emerging leaders) seven years ago, long before the remote or hybrid was even in fashion. During that time, I saw how steep the learning curve is for new hires used to an office environment. This has been especially difficult when a new hire is on board, promoted to a new role, or trying to bring about a lot of change. I have come to understand how blind talent is to change when they change performance context from desktop to hybrid, and how much we need to support them in this transition.
What are we doing?
If you are reading this, I bet you are definitely not in the ‘do nothing’ camp, so it is essential that you start educating key stakeholders in your organization about the types of investments you will need to make. make in the development efforts of new employees in order to make the hybrid a success. (If you need a mental interview to request a bigger budget, check out my previous column.)
A non-exhaustive list of key capabilities that employees will need to cultivate to be successful in hybrid and remote work, whatever their role, includes:
- Be aware of yourself and the situation: Constantly getting up to reflect and actively solicit feedback from others (not just their manager).
- Advocacy for themselves: Speak up when they need help, set effective boundaries, know their unmet needs and do something about them.
- Own their supervision: Collaborate with their managers by initiating and leading 1: 1 conversations, actively communicating status to them, seeking a perfect context for everything, and constantly aligning with priorities and expectations.
- Invest in relationships between colleagues: Proactively reach out to colleagues outside of formal meetings, making it clear how they prefer to work, providing additional context for their wider life circumstances, and seeking to be an active source of value and support for others.
- Be independent: Perhaps no other skill is more critical to the future of work than employees who are highly responsible, put their own work first, become effective and creative problem solvers, and truly own their own. work as if they did not have a supervisor.
These are the key skills and abilities for the ‘now’ of work, and your organization would be well served by prioritizing these fundamentals over shiny object enrichment skills which may look sexier but are, in reality. , much less relevant at the moment. In next month’s column and a future EDH webinar, I’ll go into more detail on each of these critical skills, as well as how you can prepare everyone for success in hybrid work, at scale, focusing on a shared development plan.
For now, start by socializing the idea that this is a huge organizational blind spot and that you plan to do something about it in your annual planning and budgets!