Flex is next: With the economy re-opening, how will post-pandemic employee experience evolve?

Britta Schellenberg
Britta Schellenberg

Every other week I’ll be sharing the latest and greatest new stories in hybrid work news. Here’s the third edition of the Flex is next series.

With more vaccinations and fewer masks, a big question looms: what’s next for how work gets done and for employee experience? The answer for your workplace will depend on many factors, including company hybrid work policies and individual preferences, but flexibility remains important. 

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. 
Let’s get the conversation started.

WSJ: Hot Desking is Here to Stay

A Wall Street Journal article from June 13th notes that more companies are turning to hot desking as part of their hybrid work plans. Hot desks are unassigned workstations that any employee can reserve when they come into the office. The WSJ article makes it clear that hot desking requires a carefully thought-out infrastructure, this kind of set up means more time spent managing reservations, coordinating with teams and helping employees feel a sense of belonging without a dedicated spot.” Any hot desking infrastructure needs to facilitate teaming, something Robin already does. 

“The key concept emerging around desk-reservation systems is “neighborhoods,” where certain teams can gather a few days a week, as opposed to individual workers reserving their own desks and coming in willy-nilly." — Wall Street Journal

Our very own Robin co-founder Zach Dunn tells the WSJ that Robin offers “a map updated in real-time as people move through the office,” so employees can locate teammates and others as they navigate hybrid work.

Survey: 85% of UK Workers Demand Hybrid Work 

A national survey of UK workers conducted by the government’s Office for National Statistics found that 85% of workers want a mix of at-home and in-office work after the pandemic. Most surveyed workers cited remote working as a positive for maintaining work-life balance, while also citing it as a negative for team collaboration and developing company culture. As one employee said in the Yahoo! Finance article about the survey: "Everyone defines hybrid working differently, so it’s going to be an enormous challenge for businesses. We all have a vested interest in making hybrid working effective, so the next few months will require us all to do what we can to make it work.”

Employee Experience Must Be Central to Hybrid Work Plans 

A terrific article from the Small Business Association of Michigan makes the case that companies can’t force employees to return to the office. The piece posits that any sort of RTO plan that doesn’t involve and engage employees is doomed to failure, pushback, and problems retaining talent. 

“A successful return to work plan is based on trust, mutual understanding, and of course, providing an environment that appeals to your workforce." — Small Business Association of Michigan

Companies should develop hybrid work plans by gathering employee feedback and making the right tools available to enhance employee experience. Among the tools recommended in the article? Robin. “Employees do not want to come back to the same work world they left behind,” says the article. “Embrace what is working and create a work environment that supports a more flexible arrangement.”

Forbes: A “Turnover Tsunami” is Coming  

Aptly titled the “Turnover Tsunami,” a recent article in Forbes coined this term to describe what will happen to inflexible companies that demand employees return to the office without any hybrid options. The article notes that a staggering 51% of U.S. employees have been seeking work opportunities elsewhere. So, what was the top suggestion for companies looking to retain and attract top talent in a climate of widespread employee burnout and churn? It’s (surprise!) providing flexible work options and tools that support flexibility.

Apple Employees Push Back on RTO Plan, Citing Diversity Concerns 

Apple employees are firmly pushing back against the tech giant’s new RTO policy that requires them to come back into the office three days a week starting in September. According to The Verge, the conflict within Apple exposes “a clear divide between how Apple executives and employees view remote work.”

A group of Apple employees wrote an internal letter raising concerns about the RTO plan’s impact on employee engagement and employee diversity: 

“For inclusion and diversity to work, we have to recognize how different we all are, and with those differences, come different needs and different ways to thrive."

The takeaway for Apple is clear: offer flexibility or face employee disengagement and churn.

Thank you for reading, and see you again in two weeks! 

In the meantime, check out some of my favorite yoga poses, we’ve all got to remain flexible post-pandemic, after all.

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