Transition to hybrid work: Mistakes to avoid

Everyone's talking about what the future of work will look like at their organization. As we discuss how to safely return to the office and support hybrid or remote work on a permanent basis, it's important to consider what not to do. We've created a short list to help you easily avoid these traps.

1. Doing it the same way as before, but now with streaming!

Many companies did not have a solid remote infrastructure in place before the start of the pandemic and had to make some quick decisions around onboarding, day-to-day meetings, and internal collaboration and communication just to keep things running. Even organizations that had a robust remote culture had to make a lot of adjustments as their employees' lives changed. 

As you figure out your organization's plan for supporting remote & hybrid work on a more permanent basis, remember to question everything. For example, just because you had to quickly shift your onboarding sessions from in-person to zoom for the last 16 months does not mean that you should continue doing it that way for another 16 months. Even worse would be to completely shift back to the way your organization did onboarding in January of 2020. The same goes for growth opportunities, 1:1s, and company communication. With all the added work, it can be tempting to keep or fall back into old habits. 

Your organization has more information now and your employees’ expectations have shifted. It's time to design new experiences with these things in mind. 

2. Asking for feedback (again) when you likely can't/won't take action

It's been almost a decade since the Employee Engagement trend took off. In fact, asking employees for feedback on how various parts of the business is doing has become so commonplace it's even hard to call it a trend anymore. 

When the pandemic hit, many companies rushed to seek feedback on how their employees were doing on a weekly and monthly basis; the lack of in-person conversation pushed everything to survey feedback. I've personally spoken to companies that implemented eNPS, pulse surveys, retros, and AMAs! However, be warned: if you (or your team, or your leadership) haven't gone through all of the results, made an action plan, communicated that action plan and taken action, it might be best to wait until you've done these things. Seeking feedback and doing nothing with the results will only result in less participation and insincere responses in future surveys. 

Didier Elzinga, CEO of Culture Amp says "The most typical reason people don’t want to fill out your survey is because you haven’t done anything since the last one. They don’t have survey fatigue; they have lack-of-action fatigue."

On the flip side, if you want to keep asking for feedback, then it's time to enable easy action planning. Putting together great programs and processes might take time but implementing them doesn't have to. With an employee experience management tool like Dado, you can set up all the elements in minutes (yes, really) and let it run with confidence. You'll quickly be able to tell if you're achieving the results you want, making it easy to iterate until you do. 

3. Creating remote strategies based on a one-size-fits-all model

One of the many things we learned during the first few months of the pandemic is how different and complicated many of our employees' lives actually are. Some of these have been discussed at length, like the challenges of doing meetings with pets and kids running around. 

Others are less talked about, like home office setups for people across the able-body spectrum, how differences in socio-economic backgrounds or caregiver status impact available hours or available living space, and the impact increased meeting time has on the mental health and productivity of introverts. 

It can be tempting to create something that works for most of your employees, but this will ultimately be a temporary success. Your best success metric here is attrition and that is a lagging metric. If you only plan for the well-represented staff then expect to see everyone else leave in droves. Instead, try making plans and processes that support staff across locations, working models, and a matrix of diversity dimensions. 

4. Tracking the wrong KPIs

How your organization measures success is the strongest indicator of what will be prioritized at your company. So the question becomes, what metrics will you track to help you understand how a hybrid and/or flexible model is working for your organization? Attrition is, of course, a no-brainer, but, as previously mentioned, it's a lagging metric. I think we can all agree that sick days are out the window, at least for 2021. OKR success rate can be an interesting metric but likely not so helpful in letting HR know where they might be able to contribute best. Engagement might be a good metric, but how do you plan on defining that? Survey responses? Number of meetings attended? eNPS score?

Instead, we recommend a few metrics that have been inspired by customer service. Do your employees read the messages the company sends out? Do they watch or participate in the All Hands? Do they sign up for your trainings? Are they having their 1:1s regularly? Do they complete the things you need them to? Are you having to send multiple messages to get people to take action? 

Ask any customer service person what they would do if their responses to customers' needs weren’t getting opened and I doubt you'd find a person that says they fixed it by simply not sending them. Find some inspiration in that and challenge your organization to provide its employees with great service that is measurable.

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