Inclusive Hybrid Workplaces: Ask Catalyst ExpressMay 31, 2023
Many organizations have seen the benefits—for their business outcomes and in support of their employees—of creating more flexible and remote workplaces. Catalyst research finds that employees with access to remote work report increased innovation, engagement, and commitment to their organizations and decreased levels of burnout and intent to leave their jobs. In fact, many workers who have had access to flexible and remote work during Covid-19 report that they would like to continue working in similar ways. Access to flexible and remote work is especially important for working parents affected by school and childcare closures.
What are the next steps—how can an organization make the goal of an inclusive flexible and remote work culture come alive?
Rethink workplace flexibility.
Rethinking workplace flexibility means redesigning the workplace and workday for broad flexibility around when, where, and how work gets done. Flexible work is not limited to only the location flexibility afforded through remote work. Schedule flexibility is also a way to bring more flexibility into your workplace—even for the frontline. In fact, research found that when workers had access to flexible schedules, they reported 29% higher productivity.
If you offer remote work options, build a remote-first culture.
“Remote first” means that even if people are required or choose to be onsite in hybrid workplaces, the default is remote work, such that policies and practices reflect this expectation, and everyone behaves as if they were working remotely to include their colleagues working from different locations or schedules. Remote-first behaviors also help to alleviate proximity bias, ensuring that people still receive career advancement opportunities regardless of schedule or location.
Be open to less rigid hybrid work plans—a flexible combination of remote and onsite work.
Combining the hybrid and remote-first approaches ensures that hybrid working doesn’t become the worst of both worlds, with unequal access to opportunities, creating disparate employee experiences and burnout from “always on” synchronous communication.
It is critical that organizations and leaders are careful not to create two tiers of workers, giving career advantages to those team members who want or need to be onsite more frequently. The environment must be inclusive to ensure that women, particularly women of color, are not left behind.
There is no one-size-fits-all path forward. Although some organizations will move closer to an all-remote model, with full choice around location and schedule flexibility, others will favor a more structured hybrid approach. Regardless of what model organizations implement, inclusive hybrid workplaces must be built purposefully to ensure equal access to career opportunity, the benefits of flexible and remote working, and addressing life/work needs.
- Creating an Inclusive Hybrid Workplace Supporter Exclusive
Work from home, remote work, flexible work arrangements: prior to March 2020, many employees around the world had little or no exposure to these concepts. While some organizations had built technological infrastructure and remote-work norms as part of their culture, others had not. The Covid-19 pandemic generated a need for companies to shift radically to implement remote work for office workers and a system of social distancing, testing, and other in-depth health and safety procedures for essential on-site workers. Seven organizations—Colliers, Dentons, EY, General Motors, GitLab, Hilti, and Pitney Bowes—shared their unique perspectives on constructing this new reality of work.
- The Hartford: A Deliberate and Courageous Transformation Supporter Exclusive
Sustaining its unique company culture was fundamental to The Hartford’s Place of Purpose work model, which has foundational elements of empathy, equity, and trust. Two types of location-flexible work have been available since April 2022 in this model: Hybrid, where employees work two to three days a week remotely, and Remote, where employees work remotely four to five days a week. The model also includes In-office, where employees work in one of The Hartford’s offices five days a week. With these three options, the Place of Purpose model aligns business performance, collaboration, and flexibility.
- Barilla: An Italian Family-Owned Company’s Journey to Global Inclusion Supporter Exclusive
Organizations with essential or frontline workers often struggle to bring more flexibility to their onsite workers. Barilla’s 2021 Catalyst Award-winning initiative discusses one of their programs to make flexible work available to all employees and addresses inclusive hybrid flexible work now and into the future: Smartworking.
- Deloitte: Inspiring Women Supporter Exclusive
Deloitte’s different types of flex policies provide employees with a common language to help articulate their needs and request support from their managers and colleagues. Includes:
- Place Flex: Employees can work remotely or in different offices as needed or desired for overall well-being.
- Team Flex: Teams on-site with clients may work flexibly so that each individual can have work-life balance.
- Time Flex: Employees can set their own start and stop times each day to maximize productivity.
- 10 Models of Workplace Flexibility
Models and best practices for building a remote-first and flextime-first work culture.
- Knowledge Burst: Leading Your Hybrid Team Inclusively Supporter Exclusive
- Knowledge Burst: Beyond Remote—Flexibility Is Key Supporter Exclusive
- Knowledge Burst: Running More Inclusive Meetings Supporter Exclusive
Ask Catalyst Express
- How Companies Stopped Worrying and Are Giving Workers the Hybrid Workplace They Want Fast Company
- The Advantages and Challenges of Hybrid Work Gallup
- Hybrid-Remote: Understanding Nuances and Pitfalls GitLab
- What Is Hybrid Work? The Employer’s Guide to Hybrid Workplaces Kumospace
- Hybrid Work Is Here to Stay. Here Are 7 Ways to Manage Your Workforce MIT Sloan
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