In my last blog post, I discussed the day-to-day and strategic importance of SMART flexible work policies, especially if considering a hybrid model with many employees working in a hybrid model, working part of the week co-located and part from home or where some employees are fully remote while others are co-located. This post will identify the need for 5 critical decision-making factors to consider when determining any organization’s flexible work policy to be sure it works for everybody and the business, and the risks of failing to do so. 

Minimally, measure decisions against 5 critical success factors:  

  1. How adaptive and appropriate your decisions, once implemented, will be to your business strategy and current customer/employee expectations. 
  2. Technical and operational capacity and the need for collaboration and coordination.
  3. Workforce needs and well-being.
  4. Anticipated and preventable unconscious Distance Bias, a new form of unintentional and systemic exclusion and discrimination against virtual workers when part of the team is co-located. 
  5. Cultural “shiftbacks” that reflect executive mindsets of distrust, old management habits, and continuously asking of remote workers, “Are they really working?” 

These 5 critical success criteria cannot be ignored or discounted.  

If ignored, a hybrid flexible workplace will be costly in multiple ways: 

  • Unless planned well with some balancing metrics or sliding scale for ROI of maximum flexibility and space utilization, underutilized office real estate can become a financial drain.
  • Distance Bias introduces an expanded (and often invisible) systemic and workforce split into 2 classes of worker, introducing another unconscious bias that can lead to employee disengagement, turnover, and DEI and career challenges for virtual professionals.
  • Operational and cultural headaches will pop up if executives simply follow the basic guidelines currently leading in the popular press. g. Most people want to WFH 3x/week and in the office 2x/week. Many executives want to flip that. Does 1 day make a difference for employees or real estate costs? I predict – yes. 
  • Empty spaces and hallways feel lonelier than working from home if not well planned, but if all come in at the same time always, no real estate savings can be gained while home office expenses have been added to the expense sheet.
  • Tax laws vary across the States and the Globe, creating barriers of entry or excuses to say no to ongoing WFH.

And yet I continue to agree with the popular trend to move to a hybrid workplace. There are distinct advantages in the short and long-term. When the network is the workplace, hybrid workforces 

  • Encourage more activity-based work to define best workplace for types of work/tasks, upskilling performance management to be a shared responsibility of the employee/team, manager, and technology/tools.
  • With robust scheduling systems for spaces, RE space can be leveraged while giving workers and teams workplace choice that best suits the work environment needed, positively impacting productivity and filling hallways for social connection.
  • Reduced carbon footprint and employee commuting expenses.

At The SMART Workplace, we can facilitate any or all aspects of these strategic and operational decision-making processes, from strategic facilitation to help with templates, structural guidelines and best practices. We can be involved with your change team or be your guide on the side, coaching HR, Facilities, IT and change leaders to operationalize the transformation with stakeholder involvement. Or if you simply need training, group coaching, or an inspirational and practical webinar or keynote, be in touch!