Through all the changes that the pandemic has imposed on the corporate world, critical aspects of the business can fall by the wayside. Performance evaluations are one such aspect, and in these uncertain times, keeping those evaluations fair and equitable is of utmost importance.
In our series on preparing for return to office (RTO) and hybrid work arrangements, we have focused primarily on what organizations and leaders need to consider in making these arrangements successful. However, at the end of the day, the success of these transitions ultimately depends on how all employees—regardless of title or position—are able to be engaged, safe, productive, and successful.
While it’s clear how expectations, processes, and support structures—put in place by organizations and leaders—have a huge impact on how the change to a hybrid work environment happens, there is actually a lot each employee can do to prepare for the transition and own some of that success.
As we start thinking about a sustainable hybrid workforce model, it’s important to also consider how we’ll know that hybrid models get the benefits we need in terms of employee engagement and business results. That means leaders can’t forget to measure progress and impact.
“The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” -George Bernard Shaw
I’m sure we’ve all heard this quote before. But at no time did it ring truer to me than now. Before the pandemic, communication was routinely one of the biggest challenges of any transformation—or rather, the inconsistency, ineffectiveness, or complete absence of any given communication. But now we live in a time where ensuring timely, effective communication is concurrently easier (through technology) and more difficult (through remote work) than ever before.
On that backdrop we are now tasked with one of the trickiest transformations yet: the Return to Office (RTO). Whatever your model will look like—all virtual, hybrid, a mix depending on role—the transition will be difficult. What’s making it even more difficult is the fact that right now we can’t say for sure if the new ways of working will stick, or if once we’ve made the move, we’ll just have to return to virtual work in the near future.
In an ever-shifting hybrid workplace, diversity and inclusion may be even more relevant as new biases develop. One that we’ve already seen manifest is Proximity Bias, when leaders unintentionally favor those working in the office compared to those working remotely. But where does this show up, how does it affect business, and how can you put a stop to such biases?
If you’re a people leader, the past year hasn’t been easy. While the pandemic strained supply chains, changed consumer and customer needs, and put into question strategic growth plans, it also put a spotlight onto new employee needs around wellbeing and engagement. All of these topics have one thing in common: You, as a leader, are tasked with adapting to all these challenges and making the most of these changes. While many initially thought these shifts might be temporary, the reality has set in that they may be here to stay—and that more changes are on the horizon.
“Trust has to be earned and should only come after the passage of time.” –Arthur Ashe
Trust is fundamental in our daily interactions, but we don’t talk about it enough. We’re social animals, and the very foundations of society are built on trust. So it should be obvious why trust is critical to success in everything—including business.
According to The Trust Outlook, about 85% of people believe that a high-trust work environment helps them perform at their very best. Virtually all metrics improve when employees trust their employers and vice versa, and that is especially true in a hybrid working world.
When the pandemic forced us all to move into virtual work environments, there was one topic that immediately worried leaders and employees alike: How do we keep our company culture going strong? How can we ensure that we don’t lose the culture that keeps us all connected? While a valid question, for many it never truly was resolved. The demands of focusing on emergency response plans, moving the entire company to a virtual model, and dealing with supply chain issues—among many others—caused a focus on firefighting and surviving.
According to the 2021 Annual Report from the World Trend Index, 73% of employees want flexible remote work options to be maintained, even after the pandemic has passed us by. Furthermore, 66% of leaders have considered redesigning office spaces for hybrid work.
It’s approaching two years since the pandemic forcefully transformed our lives. For most of us, it was an abrupt transition from customary ways of working to a virtual work environment. There was no alternative – we had to figure it out and make it work.
Ultimately, we realized that working remotely fit many people pretty well, driving higher-than-expected engagement numbers and keeping productivity high after the initial shock.
Fast forward to today. We’re still dealing with the pandemic, but businesses are realizing that it’s time to redirect their organizations for positive growth. There is renewed hope that we will overcome this virus – or at least get better at living with it. The show must go on, and we can’t be in “emergency mode” forever.