Business Transformation

How Business Leaders Can Design an Effective Hybrid Work Arrangement

Rhett Power

Most companies can’t go back to the office full-time. If you want to maximize productivity and collaboration in the next normal, you’ll need to adopt a hybrid workforce model. Here are three tips to help you better prepare your approach to the next normal.

As the world shifts into the next normal, some companies want to transition back to a centralized workforce model. But for most, there’s no going back. A McKinsey & Co. survey found that the majority of global executives plan to rely on both on-site and remote workers. This echoes the results of recent Gartner research: About 99% of HR leaders expect that their companies will utilize some sort of hybrid workforce arrangement.

Of course, not all hybrid models will look the same. The same McKinsey & Co. survey also found that most organizations are still working through their approach to post-pandemic workforce management. If you’re in the same boat, here are a few tips to help you meet the needs of your business and employees:

  1. Consider a location change.
    When you can hire from anywhere, why not relocate? If your headquarters are located in an inconvenient or expensive area, this is your opportunity to move. Some companies have already made the decision. Uber, Oracle, and Palantir, among others, are leaving California to decrease costs and give employees more flexibility. Many have resettled in the Midwest, and Subash Alias, CEO of Missouri Partnership, isn’t surprised.

    “The cost of starting a business or hiring top talent is quite affordable in the Midwest, which is why companies like Tallyfy and Scollar relocated,” he says. “Top talent and tech companies leaving Silicon Valley in search of greener pastures should consider moving to the Midwest to take advantage of these qualities.”

    You can also look into opening additional offices. A Gensler study discovered that leaders at top-performing companies place a high value on face-to-face interactions, and employees at these companies tend to agree that the office is the best place for certain work activities. If you want to encourage in-person collaboration and reap the benefits of a distributed workforce, establish offices in the cities you’re hiring from. The same Gensler study found that top performers are three times more likely to expand their geographic footprint as they kick off the next normal.

  2. Be prepared to address security vulnerabilities.
    The near-universal pivot to remote work was made possible largely thanks to collaboration tools such as Slack, Zoom, and Microsoft Teams. However, increased reliance on digital platforms for exchanging proprietary information creates new security risks. Most companies have taken steps to encrypt data or block unwanted traffic to protect their networks, but they’re now realizing their efforts weren’t designed to scale with massive distributed teams.

    Francis Dinha, CEO and co-founder of OpenVPN, believes that the adoption of new security approaches — such as secure access service edge and software-defined networking — will be accompanied by the evolution of tools that companies are already familiar with.

    “The ongoing pandemic, in reshaping the ways that we work fundamentally, has also transformed how businesses must approach security and connectivity,” he says. “While traditional tools like VPNs and firewalls may no longer meet the dynamic needs of business today, it’s not merely a case of ‘out with the old, in with the new’— these tools, in the same way as business, will be similarly transformed.”

    For most companies, completely abandoning traditional security technologies isn’t an option. But by integrating them with new approaches, you can create a more robust security infrastructure that’s effective against increasingly sophisticated external attacks.

  3. Include employees in your planning.
    Employees’ preferences for remote work has been well documented. Many Americans would rather quit and find a new job than go back to the office full time. This mindset has been the catalyst of the massive workplace exodus known as “The Great Resignation,” which has created significant obstacles for companies attempting to transition to on-site work.

    According to David Johnson, principal analyst at Forrester Research, many of these companies are now struggling because they abandoned the engagement activities they used to help remote teams connect. “Going into the pandemic, many companies didn’t have a listening strategy of any kind,” he says. “They instituted it during the pandemic to understand how people were doing. That’s the start, and you have to continue that.”

    If more companies had listened to their employees, they might have been pleasantly surprised. Despite the desire for flexibility, plenty of workers don’t mind office life. According to a Prudential survey, 68% of employees feel that a hybrid model combining on-site and remote work is ideal. Similarly, research from Accenture found that 40% of individuals feel like they can be healthy and productive in any working arrangement. By gathering input from employees now, you can ensure their needs and concerns are addressed in your post-pandemic workforce plan.

As you create your post-pandemic workforce plan, consider what your overall business objectives are. What obstacles are most pressing? How will you measure success after COVID-19? These three tips can guide you toward a better future as you prepare for the next normal.

Written by Rhett Power.

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Rhett Power
Rhett Power is responsible for helping corporate leadership take the actions needed to drive impact and courage in their teams that will improve organizational performance. He is the author of The Entrepreneur’s Book of Actions: Essential Daily Exercises and Habits for Becoming Wealthier, Smarter, and More Successful (McGraw-Hill Education) and co-founder of Wild Creations, an award-winning start-up toy company. After a successful exit from the toy company, Rhett was named the best Small Business Coach in the United States. In 2019 he joined the prestigious Marshall Goldsmith's 100 Coaches and was named the #1 Thought Leader on Entrepreneurship by Thinkers360. He is a Fellow at The Institute of Coaching at McLean Hospital, a Harvard Medical School affiliate. He travels the globe speaking about entrepreneurship and management alongside the likes of former Gates Foundation CEO Sue Desmond-Hellmann and AOL Founder Steve Case. Rhett Power is an acclaimed author, leader, entrepreneur and an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. You can follow him on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.