Flex is next: Changed work models have forever changed employee perspectives on work

Britta Schellenberg
Britta Schellenberg

In yoga, we sometimes stand on our heads to increase flexibility and provide new perspectives (the pose is called “shirshasana”).

The COVID-19 pandemic and changing work models (remote and hybrid) have felt like one long headstand for employers and employees alike. Those that maintain flexibility will come out “ahead” (bad pun intended), and those who don’t will end up like Humpty Dumpty falling down. 

As VP of Marketing here at Robin, I read a lot about the hybrid workplace, and every two weeks I share my favorite articles with you.

Feel free to let me know what YOU think.  

Forbes: Why some workers don’t want to return to the office full-time  

A recent article in Forbes explained why an overwhelming majority of workers (over 70% in most surveys) prefer hybrid work to the old, pre-pandemic work model. Among the reasons:

  • Working From Home Is Just As Efficient. The data is in: we’ve seen no drop off in employee productivity as a result of remote and hybrid work models. Work is still getting done.
  • The Pandemic Changed Our Perspectives on Work. Employee attitudes about work have changed permanently due to our shared experience with remote and hybrid work. A Bloomberg study showed that 39% of employees would rather quit than work for an organization that doesn’t support remote or hybrid work. The Great Resignation is happening.
  • Remote Workers Are Happier And More Loyal. Important research from Owl Labs found that remote work "can improve employee productivity, increase employee retention, and make employees feel more trusted and better able to balance work and life responsibilities."
  • Employers Will Need to Change With The Times. “While some employers might not be willing to change,” says Forbes, “they will need to adapt as society continues its trend towards” hybrid work, or else risk losing top talent to more flexible companies.

HBR and Robin: Employees want autonomy, something flexibility enables

A recent article in Harvard Business Review argues that employees want autonomy, which means more control over how and where work gets done.

“For organizations looking to remain competitive in the hybrid future,” says HBR, “enabling and empowering employee autonomy will be the single most important enabler of flexibility. By giving employees the tools they need to do their job well regardless of location, leaders can create a culture of autonomy and flexibility to the benefit of the organization, teams, and individual employees.”

A recent Robin blog post makes a similar point. Employers should “think enablement, not battling for control,” it says, “and offer employees the flexible tools and technologies that support how and where people want to work. Employees will reciprocate by putting the organization’s goals first.” 

HR Dive: Employees are demanding more transparency and communication 

The last two years have been filled with rapid change and the stress that accompanies rapid change. What’s become clear is that employees now demand and expect more transparency around company decision-making and more communication around changes like RTO strategies, vaccination policies, and more, says HR Dive.

“What's critical for leaders to understand about transparency is that this workplace trend is not a reaction to the global pandemic,” says HR Dive, “it's here to stay.” We've moved away from traditional communication styles like communicating on a "need to know" basis or with a top-down hierarchy, and we're moving to more open and frequent communication with employees. “Companies that get on board with this trend will be rewarded with attracting and retaining top talent,” says HR Dive, “[while] companies that lag in adopting more transparency will lose top talent to other companies that do.” Communication, trust, and retention are intertwined.

Boston Globe: How hybrid work is changing the office’s physical space

We’ve all heard about “hot desking,” or having workspaces that are open to anyone and that can be booked by hybrid workers who may want to come into the office. A recent Boston Globe article, One Size Doesn’t Fit All: Employees’ Needs Are Changing Workspaces, describes how global offices are also becoming more flexible with their physical space in order to support team-building and socializing.

Employees “are better supported when [the workspace is] movable and changeable, with more options for places to work throughout the day. In doing so, the workplace becomes more adaptable, elastic and responsive to what individuals and teams are doing,” says The Globe.

Of course, technology will be a key component of this “re-imagined” hybrid office environment, where some employees collaborate (or socialize) from the “flexible” office with other employees who are working from home. Robin puts people ahead of spaces and knows exactly how to support these hybrid work environments so employees and employers alike can work without friction and with high productivity.

Thank you for reading and see you again in two weeks.

Meanwhile, continue to maintain your change-readiness and an open perspective (you don’t necessarily need to stand on your head to do so, but it couldn’t hurt).

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