Flexible work arrangements with Jennifer Schoenig - Video transcript
When I think back to pre-pandemic behavior, there were so many people who just would say, I can't work from home. I don't like to work from home. It's not for me. And then, of course, there were people who just loved it and said I'm never coming back to the office.
And I think that after this great experiment that we've all been living through, I think we've had, as you said, five times more people who say that they want to work from home. For even the people who said they want to work from home, they want to work from home more often than they did before. So I think a lot of it definitely is here to stay.
Hybrid working is probably here to stay, where people are doing potentially a mix of in the office and at home. And look, we've all become accustomed to new behaviors. New lifestyle. Work and life have intermingled more than they did before. I think all three of us here right now are working at home.
So it's just the norm for so many of us. And being able to walk away at 5 o'clock or 5:30 or whatever time of day your day ends, to maybe taking your child to their soccer game, or in my particular example, softball game.
I was actually able to coach softball this year, something I never would have been able to do, being in the office just because of the time demand, and the commuting demands. So I do think that there are some parts of it that are shifting, and that are permanent.
And I just think that there are still however benefits to being in the office. Employees being able to grow their networks faster. Being able to really make those interpersonal connections. Not having to be as intentional about scheduling meetings, to have that conversation that you could probably just do quickly in the hallway.
For an employer, I think there's talent play to having to be able to be flexible and embracing a hybrid work environment. Being able to attract talent, being able to recruit talent-- I think it's key to being able to have what the employee would call a flexible work arrangement. Whether it's how many days you come in or what time of day you can start or end your day, based on what you have going on. So I do think there's a lot of it that's truly permanent.
Well, in our most recent research, we found that nearly 2/3 of employers are planning to have at least a portion of their workforce be remote next year. One reason is that more employers are better prepared for remote work now than ever before.
A majority have implemented technology to support remote work since the pandemic started-- collaborative technology that allows video calls, document sharing, lots of zooming and teaming, compared to a year ago, when most employers were concerned about retaining customers and growing their business again. Now we see heading into 2022, it's really about retaining employees, and figuring out the optimal workplace model. That's a much higher priority.
So Jen, a question that many employers have, how can they foster community and collaboration with a hybrid workforce? What are the main challenges to keeping remote workers as engaged as workplaces reopen again?
The first and foremost piece of advice I would give is you can't leave those who are working from home behind. They have to be engaged. So the first thing I would say is invite them into the office at any time. Open it up to anyone who wants to come in.
But for those who either don't want to come in, don't feel that they need to come in, don't live locally because potentially you've recruited people across various geographies or people have moved over the last two years. Ensure you include them. Enable them to be part of the conversation. Invite them to be part of the conversation.
I would say, use video. Video feature on webinars and calls like this are crucial. You know that the person is paying attention. You have their full-- they're not multitasking. Use the Raise Hand feature. Even call on people who are not in the room first. Ask people who are on the phone or over the webinar to first answer the question before you ask people who are physically in the room to ask questions.
Try to avoid side conversations because I think we all know, when some people are in the room and they're chit chatting and you're on the phone, you can't hear. You can't pick up anything. You really just hear a noise at that point.
And then ensure that you're treating people equitably in terms of assignments that you hand out. Don't just give the next best assignment or the chance for visibility to somebody who's sitting right outside of your office or sitting right next to you. Make sure you give that to everyone equally.
And that's how I think you ensure that you keep those employees really engaged and be able to retain them. Because I think that's another thing that we're all focused on right now is making sure we can retain our talent with the great resignation that's happening these days.
Right. Here's another popular question from employers right now. How do you make the office a place people want to go back to?
So our goal for the office-- I'll simply state it as, if somebody comes into the office and they've taken their time to commute and get up in the morning and instead of just kind of let's say rolling out of bed and starting work, but instead actually coming in. I want to make sure that they don't come in and just say, I could have just done this from home. I don't know why I bothered.
So we try to look at having core days. Our core days at Guardian are Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. So if you have core days where the office is full, and it's vibrant, and you do things like have a calendar of experiences like you have free lunch on Tuesday and free breakfast on Thursday and Wellness Wednesday and you can really change it up and do programs.
Things that people are not getting while they're at home-- wouldn't it be nice to have somebody cook a meal for you instead of having to cook it for yourself. Or there's a benefit to having come into the office and all of that the chance to collaborate. So I think that's where we really have been focusing here at Guardian. What I would recommend is to really make it a great experience when somebody comes in. So it's well worth their time.
Great point. Last question. If employers do have a case, a real need to have people in the office, how can they effectively communicate that to all employees, so that those who do prefer remote work, understand what the business need really is?
Yeah, I'd start with being open and honest with the employee about why the office is important. Explain that there's a benefit to being in the office, and really truly mean it. So it could be networking, collaboration, understanding the culture, driving a culture change potentially that you want.
Productivity tends to be pretty even either way, whether it's in the office or at home. But it's about really ideating and coming together. Independent work can completely be done at home, but we're talking about fostering real collaboration, and building relationships.
The office I think is going to win out on that. So that's the purpose of the office. And again, having those core days where that collaboration can really happen, I think will be important.
Hey, Jen. Thanks so much. We should definitely have you back for an update, when we have a little more time to spend on this very important topic next year. But we're going to close this segment with a video clip from one of our more popular webinars last year, hosted earlier this summer with Guardian's Dean Del Vecchio and ADP's Nela Richardson and here it is.
I think hybrid work is challenging, in the sense that you've made this choice to sit-in the middle between the workplace and home. And that flexibility may often come with a lack of structure. So I think the key will be to structure hybrid work so it's just as predictable as either all remote, or all in person.
So you know when the employee is in the office. Everybody else knows when that employee is in the office. And you know what tasks are done while the employee is in the office versus the tasks that are done at home. I think that structure will go a long way to making the uncertainty around hybrid, both for the worker themselves and for their colleagues disappear and lessen over time.
I think the structure around it-- the days there are in the office being consistent. So you can plan on those activities. You can plan on the purpose. Why people are in the office and get the most benefit, all from an employee experience perspective, in your colleagues, as well as the predictability of just managing the hybrid environment.
So again, I think because that's going to be the dynamic of that workspace and being flexible enough to provide the experiences for people when they're in the office to be the most productive and get the most out of it. Could be for new hires, it could be for development, it could be for large scale programs and projects. I mean, there's a whole host of reasons why it makes sense to have people together. But having that structure and predictability around that, I think is going to help it be successful.