The 9-to-5 office workday is dead—or is it?
According to a new report by Korn Ferry, more blurred lines between work and home have resulted in both managers and staff members being unclear on what defines the length and scope of their roles. Managers report being frustrated that they can’t keep track of their staff’s schedules, while employees complain of burnout from working longer hours and never feeling “off.” Leaders worry that their operations and cultures are suffering.
Many companies are now recognizing that they need to give their staff flexibility, but 100% remote workforces could be detrimental not just to the company, but to their employees, too. This is particularly true for new and young employees, who need to be in the office at least a few days a week to be trained and mentored, and to develop a career path. Otherwise, this entire sector of talent is out of sight and out of mind. Managers and experienced employees need to be there for these green workers to ensure the next generation of successful leaders.
That said, the world has changed. Even in-office work hours are varied and flexible for many workers. That’s why businesses need to implement ground rules, both for in-office and remote work, to make sure everyone is on the same page—regardless of where they are working that day or where they are in their career. After all, these hybrid schedules can flourish only when there are structures in place to support them.
So what do those ground rules look like? Expectations around general employee availability need to be defined, both for when a worker is in the office that day or working remotely. The Korn Ferry report notes that firms also “need to create definitions and understandings of common scenarios like in-between time (is it okay to go for a bike ride between meetings?). And family time (is it all right to skip two hours of work to take the kids for ice cream after soccer?). Or are we still following the hour-long-appointments-are-fine rule?”
Once these basics have been put in place, the next and crucial step is communication. This is especially important when employees are working remotely. Korn Ferry notes that bosses shouldn’t only communicate with their direct reports when they need something, “because then people feel tethered to the desk even when they’re not there”—resulting in that burnout that many employees are currently experiencing. Rather, communication should be very regularly, clear and consistent, and the experts agree it should be done team by team.
Leaders and managers should develop regular connections to their staff members, with weekly check-ins and other prescribed times for them to chat and connect, as well as regularly structured times for groups to gather together—in person or virtually—as well.
With a little forward thinking, we can not only accommodate this shift to hybrid schedules, but rather leverage this flexibility to build happy, healthy, and productive workplaces of the future.