Home Editors' Picks Adapt or die: Hybrid office strategy puts employees’ needs in focus

Adapt or die: Hybrid office strategy puts employees’ needs in focus

HYBRID work schemes are likely to continue amid the prolonged pandemic. — PHILIPPINE STAR/ MIGUEL DE GUZMAN

THE HYBRID office strategy will be the best model for most organizations that have seen the effectiveness of a work-from-home strategy, experts said.

“We think that probably for most organizations, the best way to go is this kind of hybrid strategy, which is where you empower employees with choice and then give them good choices,” Herman Miller Insight Programmer Manager Oliver Baxter said at the “Heading Hybrid: Developing the Future of Work & Place Playbook” event hosted by Colliers International Philippines last week.

This means that offices won’t completely be gone after the pandemic, but under the hybrid office model — employees should have the chance to decide where they can best accomplish their tasks.

“Try to figure out who works best where. For a small organization, it’s a little bit easier. But I think any organization that’s trying to do this at scale knows that it’s virtually possible to figure out where thousands of employees work best where,” Mr. Baxter said.

A pulse survey done in America, France, the UK, Germany, and some regions in Asia conducted by the Future Forum — a consortium that includes Herman Miller, the Boston Consulting Group, Slack, and Fortune Magazine — showed 76% of the respondents want flexibility in where they work.

Office spaces have been dubbed as the “great equalizer” as not everyone has a dedicated working space from home. The Future Forum survey also showed that 59% of the 20,000 respondents said that they have difficulty focusing on work when they are at home.

“No matter where we come from, when we reach the office, we are all equal. And that has been eradicated, that has been the greatest impact for me,” Vida Candida Santos-Arciaga, Center for Research, Education, Solutions  and Training (CREST), Inc. president and chief executive officer, said.

The Future Forum survey also showed that 93% of workers want the flexibility to determine when or how much time they spend on work. 

“I think that probably has more power in association with people’s performance, their engagement with work is the when,” Mr. Baxter said, citing reports that some companies have also adopted a four-day workweek.

Herman Miller said the hybrid office strategy led to the company remodeling its office spaces so that it is “part of the continuum of different places that people can choose from.” This includes specific spaces for community socialization, team collaboration, and individual focus areas employees may book.

Companies were encouraged to keep reviewing practices, policies, and strategies to take care of employees to ensure business continuity, especially with quarantine restrictions changing every so often.

“Check how people are managing the change and help them also build that resiliency that is critical for managing that change,” Ms. Santos-Arciaga said.

She said some of the companies she handles have updated their competency matrix, both at the team level and at the individual level.

Organizations are still expected to continue supporting their employees through accommodative human resources policies.

“The keyword here is flexibility and the need to be able to listen to each of our employees to understand what their needs are because a lot of our employees will have very unique situations,” M Moser Associates Director Donn Tan said.

While the hybrid-office strategy is not new, M Moser Associates Regional Director Stephen Lyon said the pandemic has shown that working remotely can work with the right technology and the right management policies. 

Companies that fail to impose these new strategies will fall behind the competition in getting or retaining outstanding employees.

“The big risk is that if you don’t adopt a hybrid model, the other sectors that do will actually start to poach and retain some of your top talents,” Mr. Lyon said.

“If you want the best people to work for you, you got to give them the best set of conditions,” he added. “We adapt or we die to a certain extent.” — Keren Concepcion G. Valmonte