Flexibility: a key word for collective and individual goals
Employees are demanding ongoing flexibility in where, when, and how they work. In our global “Work Reimagined Employee Survey”, 54% of the employees would consider leaving their current jobs if not provided post-pandemic flexibility, with millennials twice as likely to quit as baby boomers. Employee willingness to change jobs in the current economic environment is a gamechanger.
With early concerns around productivity in working from home generally eased off, the majority of employers have now embraced the idea of not having their workforce on site the full work week. However, the approach taken by employers defers from a very strict company defined schedule to a free choice of the individual employee. And although the pandemic has proved that the overall productivity is preserved, we find organizations and their managers struggling with a (perceived) lack of control or availability of their employees. As such, employee preferences are sometimes at odds with business considerations or client needs. Moreover, certain tasks, functions or roles will still be better supported in the office, especially when it requires a lot of interaction. When left to chance, the probability that a team is present in the office on the same day drops significantly (even below 15% in a 2 to 3 day office schedule).
We see organizations that succeed best in this difficult balancing exercise are often tying the individual flexibility to a collective goal, which is embedded together with ways of working and agreed guiding principles in a team charter. When facilitating the sessions to co-create this charter, it’s important that leaders are well aware of the diverse spectrum of personas in ways of working.
To give one example, organizations are reimagining the workplace to suit the Future of Work and are implementing moderate to significant changes to the offices. As can be expected, these changes go from redecorating for more collaborative workspaces, reducing real estate footprint, to opening or onboarding new office hubs.
However, employers should be mindful that the preferred function of the office can vary strongly among employees. Our experience shows that while some employees come to the office for social interaction, their opposites search focus time in a professional environment. These preferences should be the starting point in creating a successful Future of Work strategy. The key to success lies in the right combination of getting your employees on board with the collective goal while paying attention to individual preferences. This provides a unique opportunity for organizations to move in a new direction toward a people-centered mindset in their Future of Work strategy.