COVID arrived without warning and created an immediate and massive disruption in our lives. Millions were urgently deployed to their homes to work – an experience few of us imagined would last more than a few weeks, let alone two full years.
Once workers experienced greater freedom and control over their lives, they naturally resisted giving it up. And unlike any other time in our lives, workers not only have more employment choices than ever, but millions of people quitting their jobs every month confirm that many are willing to find a new employer when theirs is unwilling to support their needs.
Hybrid is the New Normal
Gallup’s CEO, Jim Clifton, recently said that his organization’s research shows most workers want to come into the office some days to connect and socialize with their colleagues and make critical decisions together. But they want their employers to realize that they have been profoundly changed over the past two years and need a manager who will work with them individually to make their hybrid work schedule align with their personal lives.
Flexibility is Critical
After talking to several thousand of his own organization’s employees, PwC’s U.S. Chair Tim Ryan said it this way:
“We don’t believe the war for talent is going to decrease. We think we will be in a period for the next 10 years of labor shortage. And, what came through loud and clear is that people want choice in every word. Hybrid is just the tip of the iceberg. The best talent wants choice.”
For every manager wondering how to navigate and lead in the post-COVID work era, we offer these four nuggets of advice…
1. Don’t fight change.
If you close your eyes and imagine how all of us will be working five or 10 years from now, you’re unlikely to envision people being in the office more than they are today. As technology improves, it’s logical to assume even more jobs will be accomplished remotely, not fewer. And so, by fully accepting that remote working is indeed the future, you’ll be able to devote greater attention to growing the managerial skills you’ll need to effectively lead a team you don’t get to see together most days.
2. Be very intentional in scheduling and what gets done in the office.
Workers’ biggest complaint about being in the office today is that the work they end up doing onsite can get done just as easily at home. Intentional managers see this flaw and schedule their team meetings and dole out assignments in advance so people are more productive and prepared to present. They encourage employees to socialize and connect, knowing that they will collaborate better when working remotely. They provide a predictable schedule so their people can plan ahead, arrange daycare, and make arrangements for their children.
3. Know that every employee is different, listen to them personally, and seek to support them individually.
People want and need to know that their manager cares about them as a person. And one of the best ways you can demonstrate that you care is to listen to how returning to work has affected their lives. Your goal isn’t just to understand the impacts but to make unique accommodations where possible. Giving someone permission to come in a few minutes late so they can take their child to school – or get on the road early to beat traffic on the way home – prove to be minimal concessions that carry huge paybacks.
4. Manage everyone with the same concern.
A recent survey shows that most people (60% or more) have jobs that demand they come to a workplace every day. And while people whose jobs can be performed remotely are getting most organizations’ greatest attention right now, wise managers are intensely focused on supporting the people who must commute every day, put their kids in daycare, and never get a chance to work from home. Finding ways to make their work lives more accessible and more fulfilling mustn’t get lost in this moment. Your job as a manager is to be a supportive advocate for every person you lead.
TCI has hybrid work solutions that keep your people connected with the technology and tools they need. Contact us today at (703) 321-3030 or email@example.com.