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Sunday, August 9, 2020

C-Suite Agenda

The Next Normal Will Require a Hybrid Approach

Getting back to regular operations after quarantine measures ease feels like a challenging concept at the moment, but every CEO and leader should know that there are actions we can take as the next normal takes shape. Creating a hybrid model using a mix of in-office and remote work is one way to promote the safety and well-being of employees while gaining the benefits (e.g., in-person collaboration, catching up with co-workers) that come with utilizing a physical workspace again.

The top priorities for me remain the health and safety of our team members and the overall health of our business. As the leader of my company, I take these responsibilities incredibly seriously — none more so than the well-being of Vari’s amazing workforce. Going the extra mile to protect the safety and health of each worker is paramount to me. That’s No. 1. But if the business isn’t healthy, then no one will have a job to protect.

While considering ways to keep the business sustainable, adopting a semi-permanent hybrid solution emerged as a way to satisfy both concerns.

Finding the Balance

In thinking about how to safely reopen our headquarters, we embraced some new measures that I expect will become a regular part of work life for the foreseeable future. We have required that all employees and visitors wear masks, instituted temperature checks at the door with the aid of a thermal camera system, installed clear acrylic barriers between workstations, and moved desks to meet the six-feet minimum requirements of social distancing.

Still, we wanted to add even more flexibility into the equation to create an environment and, perhaps more importantly, a company culture that can effectively react to anything thrown our way. It’s important to me that our employees feel comfortable and confident that their safety is our top priority, and that means the culture has to be supportive of flexible solutions. Equipping our employees to work successfully from home became a big part of that, as we provided our team members with key work-from-home products such as desks and desktop converters.

Google has taken a leadership role when it comes to helping its employees and other companies transition to work-from-home realities. The tech giant has offered virtual training and classes and recently gave all its workers a $1,000 allowance to build or improve their home office setups. As we’ve settled into several months of remote-work life, it’s important that companies are willing to offer support — cultural, financial, and otherwise — to help team members build effective home office spaces. We’re learning that it’s not ideal to work from the kitchen table day-in and day-out and that working parents might need additional support. Everyone deserves a dedicated space that honors peace of mind, supports work-life balance, and enhances productivity.

Collaboration Is Key

More than anything, it’s become increasingly clear that businesses need flexibility baked into our approaches because best practices and guidelines will continue to change. The seemingly safest decision today might not work tomorrow.

And we need these processes to be seamless. That’s where leveraging applications such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams is so important when helping teams to work from home. When your workforce is flexible and has easy access to dynamic solutions, your businesses can adapt accordingly, no matter what the next crisis may be.

That goes for future members of your team as well. There will need to be a smooth integration of how we think about the tools we use to onboard a new employee from afar, plus how those tools work when those workers are in the office. Beyond that, how do we collaborate when we’re traveling again? Perhaps we’ll be dropping into pods or co-working spaces. It’s a moving target that requires a nimble approach.

Prioritizing communication and collaboration to maintain a positive, vibrant culture will be more important than ever as we all construct the next normal. Getting feedback from team members and reiterating that change is inevitable can go a long way. In a time when nothing feels certain, communication and ownership will reap real rewards.

I don’t think we’ll get completely away from community and collaboration. It’s hard to cultivate culture when you aren’t in the same space, and there’s a relational element that’s often missing with remote work. However, change is inevitable, whether due to a pandemic or market forces. Surviving is the first step; we all need to get through this storm. Before we know it, we’ll be thriving again.


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Jason McCann
A lifelong entrepreneur, Jason McCann has more than 20 years of experience building and running successful companies. As a founder and the CEO of Vari, Jason’s mission is to help companies reimagine the workspace. Jason McCann is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. Follow him on LinkedIn.