Hybrid or ‘on-site or else’?

People don’t tend to leave a job per se; we leave a culture or way of work that doesn’t suit or align with our needs. What are people’s working needs? How might we get the best out of working conditions to create better working lives? Work ‘at work’ is not the solution.

Research from Owl Labs found that remote and hybrid employees were 22% happier than workers in an on-site office environment and stayed in their jobs longer. Plus, remote workers had less stress, more focus and were more productive than when they were solely in the office. Working from home led to better work-life balance and was more beneficial for the physical and mental wellbeing of employees.

There are environmental benefits of working from home too. Less travel, less idling in traffic jams, less wear and tear on your vehicle and on the infrastructure…

Working from home has three major benefits: No commute, no office distractions and a better work-life balance. On the flip side, some challenges can be managing solo productivity, isolation and consequent lack of engagement. BUT this is where an effective co-designed hybrid work plan can blend the best of both modes of work.

Offer face to face opportunities for connection. Provide collaborative projects. Give opportunities for passion projects. Be clear and realistic about output expectations. Why not focus on building constructive leadership and a collaborative culture instead of ‘come to work or else’? Why not provide clarity of purpose by communicating a clear vision? Why not lend an ear instead of waving a stick?

Work should be designed to meet needs of all staff. A one-size-fits-all policy thrust onto people simply will not work.

In teaching, we differentiate. With a hybrid model students can be night owls, nocturnal workers, after sport Saturday studyers and lunchtime swatters. It doesn’t take a lot of digging to know that everyone has other commitments that their learning needs to work around. A bit of a look at adults will show that some are more productive early in the morning and others charge late into the night. Then there are family commitments, school hours and other life commitments to consider. A hybrid model supports it all with a high trust, high expectation and high engagement design.

The small ways we engage with work matters. Think about how you can communicate to your hybrid team in a way that doesn’t need everyone to be live at one time. Recording sessions, leaving collaborative brainstorms as ‘open contribution’ docs means no one is left out. We have the tools for sharing resources, collaborating and collecting voice from multiple places and times. We just have to know how to use them effectively.

Hybrid work can work if you design it well. In schools, students feel more connected to their teachers with more differentiated learning on offer. Digital communication, clear expectations and clear boundaries keeps learning flowing. Deadlines are published, questions are answered, resources are curated and shared – if the system is designed well, there can be clarity, wellbeing and consequent productivity.

People are not robots. People need balance. People need flexible modes of working. Work is not what people live for. Work ‘at work’ is not the solution.

Wage slave ‘photograph’ (dall.e).
Office worker trapped by the office like a mouse in a mouse trap. (Dall.e AI play).

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