Who Should Decide Where Staff Work Each Day?
In recent months, organizations have taken a variety of approaches toward hybrid work, but many are yet to answer the most important question about their hybrid work policies; who gets the final say over where staff work each day?
According to a recent global study conducted by Microsoft, 73% of workers want a more flexible work structure, but employers continue to struggle with how to execute it properly.
Before determining how to execute a remote strategy, it’s important to first determine who should be in charge of making those day-to-day decisions; employees, managers, or executive leadership. The answer typically lies in the culture and makeup of the company itself, as a hybrid work policy shouldn’t feel foreign or unnatural to the organization’s existing habits and decision-making processes. At the same time, the transition to hybrid work offers a unique opportunity for employers to adjust their culture accordingly.
The more you understand your organization’s current culture, or the culture you are striving to build, the better prepared you are to determine who should get the final say over where staff work on a day-to-day basis.
For example, if your organization operates within a command-and-control structure, where decisions are made from the top, staff members already expect leadership to make those choices for them. Putting the decision to team members would cause significant disruption to your day-to-day operations, and require adopting a new kind of company culture — one that isn’t true to your corporate DNA. Those organizations that typically lead from the top should continue to do so when it comes to matters related to remote work in order to minimize disruption.
However, if you operate in more of a market culture, where your top performers have more autonomy, it would stand to reason that decisions around hybrid work should follow the same pattern. Giving the entire staff more control over their work schedules might not be practical in a situation where support teams are accustomed to taking direction from leadership. In this culture, hybrid work options should be provided as an incentive, rather than a given.
In a clan culture, where colleagues often feel part of one big family, such decisions are typically made by committee, but with a strong focus on how individual actions could affect group cohesion. Organizations that operate with more of a clan culture might want to implement a company-wide policy that applies to every staff member equally. Deciding whether to work in a way that is fully remote, entirely in person, or a hybrid solution that falls somewhere in between should typically be made as a unit, and applied evenly across the organization.
And finally, if your organization operates with more of an adhocracy, where individuality and risk-taking are encouraged for the sake of innovation, giving employees control over their day-to-day work schedules is a natural fit. In these organizations, staff members are already accustomed to making decisions that can enhance their own creative outputs, and decisions around hybrid work are a natural extension of that culture.
A successful transition to hybrid work requires a deep understanding of company culture, but it also offers a unique opportunity to drive cultural change. When approaching those big hybrid work decisions — such as who gets the final say on where staff work each day — it’s important to start by analyzing your existing company culture. If you’re seeking to drive a post-pandemic cultural change, however, the structure of your hybrid policy can send a powerful signal to your organization about the changes taking place.
We at Cresa recognize that culture can be complicated, and isn’t always the same across the entire company, especially within larger organizations. That is why, when assisting clients in their transition to a hybrid work environment, we start with an analysis of their existing company culture, the cultural change they seek to drive, and find solutions that match their unique needs.
November 16, 2021
As a Principal, Stacey is responsible for consulting services. This includes research, strategy, advocacy, and advisory for clients in the areas of the future of work, change management, remote and home working, transformation, and related services.
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