Top Hybrid Workplace Issues that Keep C-Suite Leaders Up at Night
Through interviews and our State of the Workplace Pulse Report we’ve learned what issues occupy C-Suite leaders’ minds. When you know how to prevent these issues, or work alongside an expert who does, you’ll sleep well during your organization’s hybrid workplace transformation.
Won’t our staff miss having impromptu conversations?
Almost three-quarters of leaders (72%) are troubled by the perceived lack of spontaneous communication in a hybrid workplace. They worry the loss of random kitchen and hallway meetup will erode feelings of camaraderie and social connections among staff. Interestingly, this is leaders’ top concern regardless of workplace model–hybrid, remote-first, or on-site.
Spontaneous communication occurs constantly outside of face-to-face encounters: text messages, Slack channels, and phone calls. Instead of focusing on whether these are happening, intentionally establish routines and habits that facilitate serendipitous encounters. Design ways to help employees and managers initiate and develop relationships within teams and across teams.
In the office, create space—other than hallways and kitchen—that’s intended for and dedicated to socialization. Virtually, simulate office pop-by visits with watercooler channels dedicated to sharing the random bits of life—cat videos, podcast recommendations, sports gossip, and recipe sharing (but don’t neglect to train staff on how to snooze notifications). Establish channels specifically for cross-functional sharing, for example, one for managers to share their observations, struggles, and successes.
Won’t our culture suffer?
In our survey, 65% of leaders across all work models—remote, in-person, and hybrid—selected culture as a top concern. So it’s not just you. Leaders fear the move to hybrid will weaken organizational culture. They worry the intangibles that define “working” at their organization will disappear and cannot be replicated.
But culture and community are not created through physical proximity or attendance. They come from shared purpose, values, and connections; are shaped by daily practices and behaviors; and, are deepened by leaders who intentionally encourage bonds with and between managers and employees around their shared purpose.
Culture and morale are strengthened when people feel they are valued players in the organization. It can’t be a top-down effort. It requires participation from every level in the organization. It’s why we encourage employee involvement in the hybrid transition, especially the culture carriers. You must understand their fears and desires to then work together to outline new practices that preserve the best parts of your culture.
How will we collaborate separately?
For 57% of C-suite leaders, collaboration is a top concern. They may believe collaboration can only happen, or is best, if everyone is in the same room when it happens. However, remote collaboration has taken place for years.
Also, while C-suite leaders may believe it’s a problem, directors and managers don’t agree. Both in the survey and in our client workplace assessments, collaboration doesn’t come up as a remote work concern for managers or as a reason staff want to return to the office.
Teams have found effective, creative, and efficient ways to collaborate: shared documents and drives, shared screens, project management and communication platforms (like Asana and Slack), and knowledge management platforms. Figuring out what’s behind this leadership concern—and whether it’s based in reality—might give you a sense of where culture or practices need to improve.
Will new employees thrive in a hybrid workplace?
Leaders worry new employees will feel lost and isolated in a hybrid or remote workplace. But according to our clients’ workplace assessments, employees who have been onboarded in the last two years are happy with their experience. However, these results require a well-planned onboarding program that includes:
- Ensuring equipment (with software installed) arrives at the employee’s home before their first day.
- Sending an onboarding schedule ahead of time.
- Providing an organizational chart and information about their teammates, team goals, and organizational goals so they feel informed and involved in their team and organization’s future from the start.
- If their first day is in the office, make sure their manager, teammates, and IT liaison are there, too.
How will we innovate if we’re not together?
Many leaders believe innovation can only happen synchronously and in-person, because it’s a familiar format. But the opposite is true. In a Citrix report, The Era of Hyper-Innovation, 93% of business leaders said “increased digital collaboration has amplified more diverse voices, resulting in richer idea generation.”
Live brainstorming might feel good, but asynchronous brainstorming results in more ideas. Asynchronous brainstorming gives everyone a fair shot at ideation and is a more effective way to gather a greater quantity and quality of ideas. If you want to explore this powerful innovation technique, check out the tips we shared in a previous post about asynchronous brainstorming.
How will I know if employees are getting their work done?
In Microsoft’s work trend survey, 87% of hybrid employees say they are productive at work, while only 12% of leaders are fully confident their employees are productive. We haven’t observed this dissonance with clients or with the leaders we surveyed: only 4% of them were unsatisfied with employee productivity.
We oftentimes encounter managers struggling with visibility into projects. Many are unsure how to hold employees accountable if they can’t see staff doing the work. Hours in a chair is not an effective measure of employee performance. Managers need tools to track projects and goals, training to hold employees accountable, and feedback loops to evaluate performance.
Fearing the unknown hybrid future is totally natural. But a consultant can help you make decisions in the light, rather than in response to fear. They can establish new watercooler practices that encourage communication, camaraderie, and relationships; identify the cultural intangibles to preserve and nurture; design tailor-made onboarding programs; and, share best practices for innovation and collaboration to replicate across the organization.