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As the world of work evolves, HR should too

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The basics of people leadership are never going to change. But, the way our employees work and succeed will continue to change, so we need to be adaptable.

Three things I stress with my people team: first, the importance of being in the office; second, having real conversations with employees; and third, work/life blend.


Rethinking the workplace:

Nine-day fortnight could be a better alternative to a four-day week

Lessons from a remote-first workplace

Keeping connected in a hybrid workforce


 

Champion in-person collaboration

No one wants to hear this, but face time is essential for collaboration, sharing, and problem-solving. Being together in a workplace helps us build closer-knit relationships and develop leaders at every level. It doesn’t have to be five days a week. Two to three days on site will make a difference. 

Save high-collaboration activities, like brainstorming new ideas or engaging in collective problem-solving, for days in the office. Encourage teams to come in together for specific meetings. Also help them to distinguish what they can do best together from what they can do when working from home. 

 

Talk to employees about the work that matters most

Don’t expect to have an engaged workforce if you never talk about engagement with your employees. 

Train managers to meet quarterly with direct reports to find out what matters most to them and what keeps them engaged in their job.

Ask questions like: Are they finding joy in their job? What are the things they want to change? If they received a call from a recruiter, would they take it and why?

Once you’ve done a few of these sit-downs, you’ll notice trends. Almost always, these conversations surface problems that are within managers’ control to solve, which can make the difference whether a person stays or leaves.

 

Defend employees’ right to work/life blend

Work/life balance assumes everything should be equal. It never is. When I worked at Facebook, there were days I had a deadline, which meant I might not make dinner with my boys. But I never missed that football game at 3pm. 

Work/life blend is about making in-the-moment choices on decisions we all face everyday. Does work come first right now, or is it family?

Do I go into the office on Tuesday and Thursday so I’m free to pick up the kids the rest of the week?

A leader’s job will be to ensure a flexible, hybrid work environment, so employees can blend their various life commitments. We should coach our people to weigh-up the options and take advantage of the flexibility they may already have. 

Nearly 80% of companies are officially hybrid. Most are hybrid at-will, meaning that employees can choose which days they come into the office. Some have a split-week policy, in which companies assign specific days of the week for on-site and remote work by team or function.

Whether your company embraces a hybrid work model or not, be prepared for a world complexity as more people come back to the office. Give yourself space to think through the problems of re-establishing a workplace community.

How will you tackle fair incentives across all offices and remote locations? Or, how might you glean insights from your workplace data to make better decisions? 

There are many ways to carry forward – and most will involve trade-offs. You’ll need to strike a balance. But with some trial and error, you and your team can create a workplace experience that your people will love and appreciate.

 

Annette Reavis is the chief people officer at Envoy