As more people are vaccinated and the CDC and local governments lift restrictions, companies are refining their return to the office. While many companies already had telework policies and work-from-home benefits, most businesses were forced to a virtual work environment as mandated by COVID-19 restrictions.
Based on surveys and reports, the hybrid model seems to be the new normal for many companies. While it can be a great way to retain talent, it will require a revaluation of policies, additional training, and a new approach to employee communication.
There is sure to be a lot of angst among employees as they are asked to pivot and adapt once more. Communication will be key to a successful transition.
According to a study by McKinsey & Co, “Employees who feel included in more detailed communication are nearly five times more likely to report increased productivity. Because communicating about the future can drive performance outcomes today, leaders should consider increasing the frequency of their employee updates—both to share what’s already decided and to communicate what is still uncertain.”
As the economy begins to rebound, companies need to be concerned about turnover as employees consider new opportunities. Clear, consistent communication can make employees more engaged and decrease anxiety and stress. To help employees feel part of the process, survey them to learn their expectations, concerns and fears.
Once a company has finalized a plan for its new normal, details about the plan including a start date and expectations should be outlined for employees well in advance. Are there specific days for each department? Is there flexibility with the days an employee can work from home? Are there new rules for celebrations and meetings?
HR teams should work with management to ensure that rules and policies are enforced and how to determine if, and when, exceptions are okay. Employers should also understand how COVID may have impacted employment and anti-discrimination laws.
This new hybrid work model is likely to affect operations. Provide employees with resources and training so they are prepared and comfortable with the change and know what to expect. Reevaluate team and position goals. Work with employees to revise and establish achievable goals and a work plan.
As companies adjust to yet another change in the workplace, an agile approach that fosters innovation and creativity will help teams to adapt and thrive.
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