Should Hybrid Schedules Be Your Business Model?

by Donna Burnett on November 2, 2021 in Hiring

 

Candidates have a myriad of options in the current job market, especially when it comes to hybrid work models. Professionals got a taste of remote work in the last year and a half, and many are convinced that hybrid options should be a permanent option.

This is the current challenge for many leaders and managers. Is this model truly sustainable in a successful manner for the long term?  While employees expect hybrid to be the new normal, some businesses are ready to transition back to in-office models. As you can deduce, there appears to be a disconnect from employers’ plans and employees’ demands.

This brings us to some important questions. What are the benefits and challenges of offering hybrid schedules? Is this something you should offer to your employees for the foreseeable future? Let’s take a closer look.

 

Benefits

Candidates are spending more time pondering where they truly want to live, as current trends show. Population epicenters like New York and L.A. have experienced a decrease in overall population due to the pandemic. Because people are keenly aware of flexible work options, they are making important life challenges to better align with the work-life balance they have wanted for so long.

One of the greatest benefits as an employer, especially in the current talent shortage, is the expansion of your search. You can widen your talent pool. With the flexibility of remote and hybrid options, your team can hire outside of your geographical area. The doors are wide open for you to connect with talent globally.

Further still, hybrid options provide a greater pathway for your business to encourage and foster a more diverse culture. Your company can truly build for the future, and implement stronger D&I practices. When you can draw from a wider talent pool, you can intentionally expand your staff in a more inclusive and diverse fashion.

 

Specific Challenges

While many employees enjoy hybrid options, that doesn’t necessarily apply to all professionals. A survey from June of 2021 shows there is a distinct generational divide regarding employees’ willingness to return to the office. When employees were asked about their readiness and desire to return to the office, each generation responded a little differently:

∙ Baby boomers: 43%

∙ Gen X: 38%

∙ Millennials: 24%

Interestingly enough, these numbers reflect an increased comfort level. In September of 2020, only 17% of overall workers expressed a comfortability with returning to the office. While there is not a one-size-fits-all kind of answer, these statistical results provide some helpful background to employers as they consider next steps.

Another challenge is the ever-important topic of salaries. Wages are showing a steady incline, but in 2022, experts are predicting wages will level off:

Judy Shelton, an economist and senior fellow at the Independent Institute, a free-market think tank, wrote in a July 25 Wall Street Journal column that ‘nominal wage gains are an illusion when inflation wipes out real gains.’ While last year’s inflation rate was 1.7 percent, she noted, this June the federal government reported a year-over-year inflation rate of 5.4 percent.

While some employers are paying salaries as if people lived in highly populated metropolitan areas, wages will likely level out. Leaders will need to plan accordingly and invest in healthy and candid conversations with current and oncoming employees to ensure a clear understanding of the company’s current standing and future plans.

At the same time, managers are nervous about their ability to keep up with the demand needed for remote supervision:

About 67% of supervisors said they spend more time supervising remote workers than onsite workers. Around 43% of supervisors say they “sometimes forget about remote workers when assigning tasks [and] 72 % say they would prefer all of their subordinates to be working in the office.”

While leaders may wrestle with those concerns, research reflects a current trend they must be aware of: several employees will be more likely to quit without a hybrid option.

 

Implementations of Hybrid Work

Who is implementing hybrid work models for the long haul?  The current market provides many examples, but here are a few key companies that are making some strong, post-pandemic plans.

As a major tech company, IBM is creating clear pathways for remote work, even after the pandemic subsides. CEO Arvind Krishna predicts a hybrid remote-work model for 80% of employees post-pandemic. Employees will still be asked to come into the office two to three days a week, but the requirement of five days a week is a relic of the past. The full implementation of these changes will take time, especially regarding how much the business will need to scale back their physical office spaces to account for these changes. While not all tech companies are following suit, Twitter and Salesforce are following similar models.

Beyond schedules, some companies are leading the way in supporting and enhancing hybrid and remote work. Butler Street, a management consulting and research firm which focuses on client and talent development, is making a strategic partnership with Staffing Industry Analysts to elevate the hybrid workforce. These two organizations are adjusting to e-learning/professional development to keep the current workforce engaged and growing.

 

Questions to ask Yourselves About Your Company’s Best Interests

As you read through these observations and statistics, we realize deciphering whether hybrid schedules should be a long-term option for your business is not a simple answer. But as you consider the current market, here are a few questions that may guide your conversations and planning.

∙ What are your employees saying? While you may not be able to accommodate all their needs or wants, listen to what they would love to see. Get a pulse on what they would like to see happen (use surveys, have town hall meetings, etc.)

∙ What are your concerns as a management team? Write them down and talk through each one. Which ones can be addressed? Which ones can be adjusted? Which ones are non-negotiables?

∙ What is your competition doing?  Not just the businesses in your area but in your industry across the country. How do you compare?

These questions and the subsequent answers will help leaders and employees reach an understanding to make the best decisions about hybrid models and implementations for your company.

If you have further questions on this topic, be sure to reach out to our Contact 1 team.

Related Articles:

The Inside Scoop on Hybrid Work Schedules – Is It the Right Career Choice for You?

How to Recruit and Retain Top Talent in a Post-Pandemic Market

The Do’s and Don’t of Communicating for Remote Employees