Almost every conversation I have lately with clients includes a discussion on if and how they will get “back to their offices”. Depending upon your life stage, home set up and family, working remotely (mostly from “home”) has been great, good or tolerable. But from recent surveys, it’s clear the majority of employees want to work from home at least part of the time.
According to a Harris Poll survey of 2,063 adults conducted May 14-16, “Forty percent of Americans prefer to work from home full-time, compared with 35% who seek a home-office hybrid and 25% who want to go back to the office full-time”
In contrast, “68% of executives say a typical employee should be in the office at least three days a week to maintain a distinct company culture”, according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers survey late last year.
Ultimately, because their success relies on it, I am confident that most organizations will figure out a balance that works best for their employees considering their industry, strategy, and customers. I am less confident that they will redesign important talent management processes and practices to optimize for the new hybrid office models they will be adopting (and surely adapting over time).
For example, consider performance management. With greater adoption of matrix management models and the growing reliance on deeper collaboration, how effective employees are working with their stakeholders has become ever more important. And even though I have been recommending that clients add stakeholder feedback as a standard part of their performance management process for years, few have adopted this practice. With teams still working remotely at least part of the time, how they communicate with each other, their responsiveness, and how they plan and organize their work, has become a much bigger differentiator of performance.
During the last 18 months I have facilitated quite a few leader and team launches and integrations. I have always loved this work. When the pandemic started I wasn’t sure how I would manage the facilitation virtually. It felt rocky the first few times, but clients have been very positive in our post-meeting reviews. One thing I have noticed, and at first, I thought it was just luck, is that engagement in these sessions matches or exceeds many prior team facilitations I have done (and I have facilitated a lot of team meetings).
This surprised me a bit until I thought about how I was feeling and what I was doing to manage my own anxiety with virtual facilitation. It’s clear that we lose some perspective with virtual platforms, like somatic cues and the natural energy from sharing a physical space. Due to this, I have been taking more time to experiment with the meeting design and structure to make sure everyone feels included in the sessions and safe to contribute their best. For example, I am being even more rigorous with pre-session expectations and assignments and creating collective ground rules during the sessions.
With my experience growing, I realize how important it is to help leaders and teams adapt their ways of working for their virtual workplaces. Processes like talent acquisition, onboarding, goal setting, and performance management will need to be updated for the hybrid workplaces in which many of us will continue to work. Our success virtually depends upon how well we rethink, shift and sharpen our approach to meet the reality of our more varied workspaces.
Moira Clarke founded Leadership Consulting Partners 21 years ago to collaborate with leaders, teams and organizations to create more productive, effective, and human people systems and practices. If you are reading this to the end, and you find value, please say so and share with others on LinkedIn and Twitter. Thank you!
Welcome to Moira's blog. I write a (mostly) monthly post about the work of building better work places: people strategies, systems, teams and leaders.