The Joys Of Hybrid Work: How We Got Here

May 25, 2021 00:22:08
The Joys Of Hybrid Work: How We Got Here
The Josh Bersin Company
The Joys Of Hybrid Work: How We Got Here

May 25 2021 | 00:22:08

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Show Notes

Hybrid Work is one of the hottest topics in business today. Is this really a good idea? Yes!

In this podcast, I discuss why Hybrid Work is a very good thing, and discuss the five issues to consider as you build a hybrid work strategy.

Resources:

The Joys of Hybrid Work: Ten Considerations

The Remote Work Bootcamp

Remote Work Is Here To Stay – But Harder Than You Think

 

 

View Full Transcript

Episode Transcript

Speaker 1 00:00:12 Hello everyone, it's Josh person. Today I want to talk about hybrid work, which is the latest buzzword in human resources and business community. It's an interesting phrase because it's not actually a new idea at all, but it seems to be a very important concept as we try to come back to some sense of normalcy post pandemic. So let me give you a little bit of history on this and then some context. First of all, there's no question many, many studies have proven that flexible work experiences are what employees want. People want flexibility in time, location in the tools they use. They want flexibility in the way they create their role, the way they do the job. They would like to have flexibility in what they wear. They would like to have flexibility in their hours. We live in a world where the digital experience is always on. Speaker 1 00:01:07 So in some sense, we're always available to work, and work is no longer a place. It's really a thing we do and it's an opportunity for us to express ourselves, put our energy into something outside of our personal lives and get rewarded for it. So we want it to be personal. Now, for many, many years, working at home or working remotely was frowned upon. I think a lot of you probably remember the escapade when Marissa Meyer at Yahoo went through the VPN records of all of her employees and found out a whole bunch of people were working at home, quote and not working and got very upset and forced those people to come back to the office and it, it didn't go particularly well. Yahoo virtually went out of business, was sold to Verizon, and then that didn't work out either, got sold again. And I think some of it goes back to that type of culture of not trusting people. Speaker 1 00:02:00 People really rely on trust at work. And when you say to somebody, you're not entitled to work at home, you're not entitled to leave early, you're not entitled to go take care of your kids during the day. I don't care if you're sick, you need to get this project done. It's a sign of low trust. And when the company doesn't trust the employees, the employees don't trust the company. And of course, performance suffers. The second issue with remote work is that we've now proven that work at home isn't bad. It's not perfect. It can be demanding and tiring and exhausting. It can be overwhelming. There's a lot of interruptions. There's a lot of distractions. We have dogs and cats and kids and noise and people outside mowing the lawn and cutting down trees. But you know, given all that, most of you who worked at home found it to be a pretty positive experience. Speaker 1 00:02:51 You saved an hour or two each day in commute. You saved a lot of money on going out to lunch. You were able to work the hours that were were best for you. And given the limitations of video technology, you actually were pretty well connected to each other. In fact, most of the companies we talked to have told us that they were more connected and more collaborative online than they had ever been before. And many of the corporate cultures that were very siloed and bureaucratic became much more collaborative and more dynamic and more creative because of work at home and because of all the technologies we have. So I don't really buy these articles from Jamie Diamond or other CEOs, it's we're coming back to the office because that's the only way we're gonna get anything done. It's simply not true. It may be that the CEO wants to poke his or her head out of the door and see who's there like they do in Japan. Speaker 1 00:03:43 But that doesn't necessarily result in performance, that results in accountability. But you can hold people accountable to outcomes and results regardless of where they are very, very easily. So I think that's a somewhat old fashioned idea. Now, one of the things we do know, and I've learned this during my days at Deloitte and my days running our company before that, is that there are definitely times when you want to be with people face-to-face. There are a lot of meetings and communications and design sessions and sales calls and coaching activities and manager subordinate discussions and so forth that really have to be done face to face and should be done face to face. So hybrid work doesn't mean you're home or remote all the time. It means there will be periods of time when we travel and meet together, but it doesn't have to be every day, all day in the office. Speaker 1 00:04:33 And let me just remind you that before the pandemic, at least in San Francisco and where I live, and many companies, people were kind of sick of sitting around crowded offices right next to each other wearing headphones so they wouldn't be interrupted all day. I worked in several companies where there weren't enough conference rooms, there weren't enough private spaces. And coming into the office was really a very stressful experience because you didn't get any privacy and you didn't get any time to yourself and there was no place to spread out. Even at Deloitte where we had remote offices all over the world, I would often show up in the New York office or in other city and there were no desks. And I would have to sit in an open area and work when I could have just stayed in the hotel room and probably gotten more done. Speaker 1 00:05:16 So let's not go back to all those things that we were dealing with before and bring them with us. Let's move forward. And that brings me to the next point, which is that the hybrid work of today, 2021 and beyond is not going back to something in the past. It's going forward to something new. It's going forward to a set of work policies and practices that are flexible but also accountable, that are focused on great technology and productivity and integrated platforms and diversity and inclusion and respect. I don't know how many times I was in a conference call or a meeting where there was a group of people in another part of the world and I was dialing in and they didn't pay attention to me because I wasn't there. Well, that's not really acceptable anymore. We have video conferencing now. It's not that hard to get somebody online and you can give everybody a chance to speak in a meeting. Speaker 1 00:06:10 Those types of policies and cultural aspects are part of hybrid work. Two, the fourth thing I'd like to mention is that only 25% of the workforce has a desk. I know that sounds a little odd, but if you look at the statistics, anywhere from 70 to 75% of workers by number are what are called desk-less. They're behind the wheel of a truck, a car, they're in a healthcare facility, they're in a retail store, they're in new manufacturing facility, they're in a warehouse, or they're outside doing something for other people and they can't be in front of a computer all day. They just got off the phone with Walmart, who is in the process of purchasing hundreds of thousands of mobile phones for their associates. So that everywhere you are in Walmart, you can have an employee experience that's equivalent to the person sitting behind a desk. Speaker 1 00:06:59 A lot of you will not have that. I've talked to a lot of manufacturers this year who have employees who don't have email addresses, don't have access to high bandwidth. Internet can't afford mobile devices or smartphones. So hybrid work means accommodating people in different work situations, different work environments, different countries, different cities, different nationalities, different languages, and different time zones. You all know that it's very common to have a meeting that's taking place in the middle of the night. And if you're in Europe or Asia and you're working for an American company, there's a pretty good chance there's gonna be meetings like that. We have to be respectful of that. We need to set policies for that. And if people can't show up because they have other issues during those kinds of meetings, we have to accept that too. One of the things that's also constantly included in hybrid work is technology. Speaker 1 00:07:51 And the interesting thing about techno to me is that this is one of the greatest business opportunities for a tech company ever invented. Everybody who makes HR technology, collaboration, technology learning, knowledge management, video conferencing, suddenly has an excuse to reorganize your marketing around hybrid work. That doesn't mean that you as a buyer should go out there and acquire 27 different pieces. My experience as a tech person and as a business leader and as an entrepreneur is that the best thing you could do for your employees is create an integrated platform. You can build on Microsoft teams, you can build off Google Workspace, you can build off Facebook, you can build off Slack if you decide you like Slack and if you use one of those standard tools, you will find it easier to integrate other things with it. What I don't suggest you do is buy four communication tools, three email tools, six video conferencing tools, and let people use whatever they want. Speaker 1 00:08:52 Ultimately, you'll save time, money, and have much better security and data integration if you select a small set. And by the way, the collaboration market is on fire with innovation and new ideas. We use software that automatically captures video that automatically captures conversations and transcribes them. There's lots of tools that can identify hepo and mood in, can make it easier and easier for you to communicate effectively and efficiently. And I think one of your hybrid work strategies has to be a technology stream to make sure you're building the best possible technology experience for all aspects of employees' lives. And that includes taking a job, onboarding, managing people, running projects, learning, advancing to new opportunities, communicating, sharing, uh, having video conferences and so forth. The fifth part of hybrid work is the model, the business model or the the employment model. Now, for most of you that are my age, you entered the workforce when there only was one model. Speaker 1 00:09:54 You took a job and you attached yourself to a company and that was your career. And then if that company didn't work out or you didn't work out, you would leave that company and go to a new company. Well, as you know, more than half of the workforce now does what are called side hustles or gig work on the side. And it's not uncommon for people like me and others to do this full-time to be full-time contractors and have all sorts of work relationships with different companies. You as an employer should be open to that and have some guidelines. Don't let each manager decide who they're gonna hire and who they're gonna outsource to because you'll end up with a whole hodgepodge of relationships with different people and it'll be very hard to enforce culture standards, security standards, work standards and share knowledge between the different constituents. Speaker 1 00:10:41 But that is part of hybrid work too, is accommodating the fact that you might have people that only work three days a week. You might have people that work on contract, you might have people that work by the hour. You might have people that work by the project or by the piece. SAP allows jobs sharing. For example, women who have been heavily dislocated by the pandemic are finding it harder to come back to work. Cuz many times the woman is taking care of the kids or the older people in the home. So they allow job sharing and you can take your job and share with multiple people. So if you're not available on Thursdays and Fridays, somebody else can do your job on Thursdays and Fridays. And they actually formalize that with a talent marketplace technology. The sixth thing I want to talk a little bit about is the idea of culture. Speaker 1 00:11:24 You know, hybrid work actually accentuates the need for discussions of culture. When you're in the office and you get a chance to walk around and see people face to face and stop and talk to them and chat in the hallway or go to lunch, you can create a culture based on physical presence, conversations and your your style of communicating. It's much harder to do that when you're remote. So any form of hybrid work will push the limits of your culture. If you're a highly accountable company and very, very strict in your standards, people have to show up on time, they have to hit their numbers, they get called out for poor behavior or poor performance. Well that's gonna show people are gonna hide. People are gonna disappear. They're gonna use the tools to potentially push back on that kind of a culture. If you're a very collaborative culture, but you don't hold people accountable, you're gonna have the same problem. Speaker 1 00:12:15 You're not gonna be able to walk around and see what people are doing. You're gonna have to put in place some form of accountability. My big suggestion on culture is A, take it seriously and think about it. B, spend a lot of time talking to people and communicating and listening, not just talking. C, focus on trust. What do you trust amongst your employees? How much trust do you have? Now I've learned over the years that the more you trust people, the better for everybody. And if an employee misuses that trust and doesn't do something well or perhaps lies or cheats or steals, obviously they're gonna pay the price. But micromanaging people, not trusting people and spying on people generally doesn't pay off. It results in a lack of trust on the employee side and generally lower performance, lack of psychological safety, which has been proven to result in lower performance at work. Speaker 1 00:13:16 If your CEO does not trust people, you as an HR leader probably have to talk to him or her about that and coach them. One of the ways to create trust is to listen and communicate. I think hybrid work is going to dramatically increase even more the demand for listening tools, survey tools, open communication tools, crowdsourcing tools, tools that can identify natural language in comments because people are gonna wanna speak up and you need to hear them. In fact, one of the things we found from a whole bunch of our studies in the last 12 months is that among the many things that drive diverse, inclusive, and high performing workplaces, the one that always scores the highest is listening. And I don't mean listening and not hearing, I mean listening and hearing and responding to people. But you may think as a leader your job is to tell people what to do, but actually it's not. Speaker 1 00:14:07 Your job is to listen and to identify and think through what the right solution to a problem may be and then help other people solve it. That whole domain of trust and listening is just as important now as it was in the beginning of the pandemic. And now that we have a really hot job market, people are gonna leave companies that don't feel like trusted places to work. The next topic I wanna talk about is growth. Some research came out this week from Glint that shows that employee happiness is on the rise. Again, I think we're past this issue of burnout and stress and exhaustion. Obviously there's still a lot of that out there, but I really think we're coming out of that. I think in most parts of the world, there's a sense of rebirth. It's summer, the economy's growing. Companies are hiring more and more places are relaxing pandemic procedures, and there will be a positive upswing in your company and in amongst your workforce. Speaker 1 00:15:03 That means a couple things. Number one, your business is gonna grow. And I think most companies are now constrained in their supply chain because they have so much business. But second is the job market's gonna get very competitive. Now, I've talked about this on a lot of podcasts. The data on the job market is absolutely astounding. We have more than 40% more jobs open now than we did a year ago. Eight or 9 million jobs are created just during the first five months of this year. We are going to find it harder and harder to hire people. For those of you that are relatively young, you may not have lived through one of these cycles before. I have. I remember working in the San Francisco Bay area in the year 2000. It was now 21 years ago, and it was so hard to hire engineers. We were paying 300 to $350,000 a year for Java engineers, which would probably be the equivalent of $500,000 a year today. Speaker 1 00:15:51 And we were lucky to have 'em. And what that means is that your hybrid work design should be oriented around attracting and retaining people, giving people the flexibility to stay with your company when there are gonna be a lot of opportunities for them elsewhere. And that means giving them the opportunity to grow, giving them rotational assignments, giving them development, letting them try new things, letting them travel or try a new work location if they want to. That's part of hybrid work too. I was on a big webinar this morning with three leaders running Talent Marketplace Solutions. And what really occurred to me as we were talking is that the world of work now is really kind of a marketplace for people. Everybody at work is looking for an opportunity to add more value and find better opportunities for themselves. And if your company is not a vibrant marketplace for opportunities, they're gonna find it somewhere else, especially when the job market is as fast growing as it is today. Speaker 1 00:16:50 So don't think of hybrid work as a bunch of restrictions and rules and laws on how you work at home. It's much more than that. It's really an opening up and empowering strategy to allow people to do things that they wanna do in the context of your business strategy. The final thing I just want to touch on on this topic is really growth. I've worked in a lot of very fast growing companies and I talk to a lot of fast growing companies. And growth can be very stressful. I mean, it sounds like something that's great, but it's not great all the time because when the economy is growing and you're growing, so is your competition. And there's a sense of are we keeping up? Are we moving fast enough? Are we transforming fast enough? What are those guys doing that we're not doing? And so there's actually a sense of insecurity that happens during high growth periods, just like there is during low growth periods. Speaker 1 00:17:41 That stress of growth means people are gonna move into new roles, you're gonna be moving people around and transforming faster than ever. We went through the transformation for the pandemic, of course, to create low-touch and hygiene oriented products and services. Now you're gonna go through a transformation to reach new markets, grow into new geographies, move into new industries, deal with new competitors, iterate faster on your products and innovations. Well, that's gonna require people to move around. It's gonna require people to be more flexible. And so one of the ultimate goals of your hybrid work strategy is not just to accommodate the fact that people like working at home, but to create a company that can adapt, a company that allows people to move to new opportunities where needed and they don't resist. I remember one of the most iconic companies I've known for years and added cock with the C H R O several years ago, and she said to me, we have this massive problem. Speaker 1 00:18:39 We have tens of thousands of employees who have skills that we don't need anymore, and we're worried about how we're gonna let them all go. And I remember saying to her in a naive way, well, why don't you just give them new opportunities and let them reskill themselves? And she were all sorts of reasons why that wasn't possible and it wasn't necessarily a good idea and it wasn't gonna work. And I thought, well, maybe that's the way that company works. But in reality, most people don't wanna be in a dead end job. I'm not sure anybody likes that. So if we give them opportunities to grow and do something new, they'll take it and they'll be empowered by it and they'll get excited by it. So think about hybrid work as a solution to creating adaptability, creating growth, creating business innovation, and enabling people to go where you want them to go and where the company wants them to go. Speaker 1 00:19:29 Most employees will take a new responsibility or a new role if the company says this is in everybody's best interest. And I think that's part of the hybrid work model. And the hybrid work conversation two, I just wrote an article on this, I'd encourage you to read it. There's a lot of hilarious stories coming out about CEOs not liking hybrid work. I, I don't think you're gonna have any choice. This is the right thing to do. This is where the world is going. Go to any coffee shop or any WeWork once they open up again. And why do you think they're crowded with people? Because people like to work in the place and time that's best for them. And when we let them do that, they succeed in the organization succeeds. So I hope this podcast gives you a couple of things to think about as you build your hybrid work policies. It's gonna be a very exciting time for the business community, for the tech community, and for the economy. And I think hybrid work is one of the most exciting, innovative, new ideas that have come to the workforce in a long, long time. Thank you.

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