Questions, engagement models and career paths

Employees who can work remotely are considering their options, which is an intricate management wrinkle for companies.
Consider that:

  • 9 percent of the workforce wants to return to the office for a full five days a week, according to the CHG Healthcare survey.
  • 81 percent of people who have been working from home through the pandemic either don’t want to go back or prefer a hybrid schedule, according to the Harvard Business School survey.

These, and many other surveys, highlight that working remotely (aka hybrid) is top of mind for employees, but doing so does not come without questions.

  • How much do I really need to be in the office?
  • How will a hybrid model impact my career path?
  • Should I look for a job at a company where most employees are remote?

In addition, many employees still aspire to propel their careers forward, recognizing the importance of executive visibility and access to mentors and sponsors, which already impedes diverse talent.
While there are both benefits and many unknowns, many employers are working to understand the potential long-term impacts and dynamics of a hybrid workforce related to team dynamics, operations and preferential treatment for in-person employees. In executive discussions on this topic, these questions surface often.

  • How do you maintain a level playing field for hybrid employees?
  • How do you shift your mindset and actions to manage a hybrid workforce?
  • How do you avoid favoritism based on in-person participation?
  • How do you foster an inclusive culture?
  • How do you keep information exchange flowing?
  • How do you encourage collaboration and contribution while the dynamics vary?

Even with peaks in productivity and the ability to hire remote talent, the effects on innovation, co-worker camaraderie and career advancements will need new strategies — especially as impromptu discussions and unexpected synergies are not as likely with remote workers. With so many unknowns, it is going to take time, patience and focused efforts on both sides.
For employers, understand the employee-employer dynamic is shifting. Getting a jump start on these new dynamics of managing, supporting and engaging can be a differentiator that can help retain and attract talent. Although the shifts are substantial, seeking to understand why remote or hybrid is desired and what scenarios are possible can create opportunities for both the organization and its employees.
For employees, understand that you are part of the solution. There are trade-offs and opportunities in new engagement models. Being part of a team impacts the information you receive, the relationships you develop and the opportunities you receive.
Being hybrid for the long term will require new levels of effort as an employee. It is essential to work to stay engaged in the team. As a hybrid worker, it will take extra effort to develop relationships, get access and align to the work that fuels your career goals.

We are embarking on the next-generation workforce, requiring new processes, engagement models, expectations and mindsets. Both employers and employers will need to adapt to succeed as the workplace continues to evolve.

JJ DiGeronimo is president of Tech Savvy Women