So, you want to work a hybrid model — partially in the office and partially remote — but your company hasn’t established its policies yet. The good news is, you’re right on-trend. Google did it. Harry's did it. Now, how do you convince your boss?
Here are five steps to successfully navigate a hybrid work conversation with your employer.
STEP 1: Get clear about why you want to be hybrid
This talk is important on a personal, as well as professional level. Take a look at the chart below from a January 2022 Morning Consult survey tracking the sentiment “I would consider quitting if asked back to the office before I felt safe.”
From November 2021 to January 2022 the sentiment swung from nearly 60% of respondents saying they would consider quitting if asked back to the office before they felt safe down to 45%. And then, as the world began to experience a spike in Omicron cases, the sentiment swung back up to 55% of people who would consider quitting.
It’s up, it’s down, it back up again. Feel familiar? This whiplash will give you certain decision fatigue, and while some of the indecision is unavoidable, lobbying for a hybrid work model that suits your needs (and your employer’s) is within reach.
Here’s the point: COVID-19 has many of us in a reactive state, including our employers. And if we’ve learned anything, it’s that we can’t control the virus, nor our anyone else’s reaction to it. So instead of upending your future work plans based on a new variant, or not, we all have an opportunity to get clear on why we want to work hybrid.
Is it because having the flexibility to work remotely improves your personal quality of life? If so, how? Take a bit of time to reflect on this so you can come up with a schedule that incorporates these benefits into the nuts and bolts of your proposed schedule. (We’ll talk more about this in Step 3.)
Is it because it’s improved your relationship with your kids, or your partner? Take note of this as well, as it will probably reinforce your commitment to making the hybrid model work for you. Does it save you money? Does it save you time?
Remember time poverty, the feeling that you have too many things to do in a day and not enough time to do them, can detract from your overall happiness even more than money woes, says Harvard Business School Professor Ashley Whillans and the author of the seminal Time Smart: How to Reclaim Your Time and Live a Happier Life.
Whillans’ thesis invites us to start thinking about where, how, and with whom, you spend your time, as does thinking about the “why” of hybrid work.
You’ll want to get very clear on the specifics of why hybrid works better for you and your loved ones, so this feels less reactive and more like an empowering step in shaping the future of your work life.
STEP 2: Gather the evidence
Global data is on your side. The majority of companies reported an increase to flatline impact on their productivity with a hybrid work model, according to the McKinsey survey. Specifically, fifty-eight percent of executives surveyed by McKinsey reported an increase in productivity with an additional third reporting no change overall. In 2021, worker engagement has maintained about the same as it was in 2019 and is up eight percent from 2012 according to Gallup’s annual State of the Global Workplace report.
Be sure to review your personal work record over the last two years. If you had annual reviews, take the highlights and incorporate them into your case. If you haven’t done your review yet, this is a good time to think about making the hybrid work model ask.
This should be an enjoyable process. Neither 2020 nor 2021 were the best year for most of us, and yet you’ve learned something along the way — that you work better, in part, out of the office. So relish in your professional highlight reel. It should be celebrated.
STEP 3: Have a plan, so your boss doesn’t have to
Figuring out the hybrid work model is really the role of your employer, but you’ll make your case much easier if you do the work for them. Decide how you’ll work, where you’ll work, and what hours you’ll work, so that you can tell your manager how you envision the hybrid model working for you — without breaks in productivity or contribution from your end.
A little insight: managers’ top concerns are trust, cultivating corporate culture, and fairness according to Out of Office: The Big Problem and Bigger Promise of Working from Home by Anne Helen Petersen and Charlie Warzel.
Again, in future pieces, the Daybase blog will turn a lot of this around to our employers, but for now, let’s focus on what you can do to strengthen your case.
Perhaps you’ll take some inspiration from employees at the business communication behemoth, Slack, where most workers have the option to work remotely on a permanent basis. Slack employees have a “one-pager” system that among other things includes the best times to contact them for a response, and how they like to work best according to Petersen and Warzel.
This kind of forethought and intentionality is precisely the kind of thinking required to make the case for successful hybrid work.
Here’s an example: Say you’re on a team of ten. Maybe you have the habit of keeping to yourself and doing good work, albeit in a silo. This is a good time to start checking in with your colleagues and your manager a little more, just to clearly state where you’re at with a project and make sure you’re working in harmony with the team. Notice the rhythms of your team and think about how the hybrid work schedule that’s ideal for you can also complement your team’s natural rhythms.
Where will you work? If you’re like us at the Daybase blog, where our entire HQ team is remote, you too will want to work remotely. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you want to work from home. Consider a Daybase membership, which allows you to access an on-demand workspace right in your community, minutes from your home, gym, and more. Whether you want to take an uninterrupted call or need reliable internet for that 10-way Zoom call, Daybase has you covered.
Ok, now that you’ve thought through the when, how, and where of hybrid remote work, by the time you have a conversation with your manager about going hybrid, you’ve set the stage for good communication. You’ll have an idea of the days you’d want to be in the office to make the most of team in-person time, and you’ll have a good sense of how, if at all, your working remotely will impact the balance of the team.
STEP 4: Have this conversation now, while company policy is likely influx
If you’ve made it to 2022 without having a conversation about going hybrid with your employer, you’ve likely been thinking about it for months. Don’t push it off anymore, this is the time.
The chart below tracks office occupancy numbers in New York City-based on a recent survey from security firm, Kastle Systems. Prior to the Omicron COVID-19 peak, employers were steadily marching their workers back to the office. As recently as December 2021, occupancy was up to nearly 40% in New York City. For the moment, the recent spike in cases has upended this trend, but your C-suite and HR departments are certainly planning company-wide policy after this latest swell and you want to make sure your situation is considered while the policy is still flexible. Again, remember you’re probably not the only employee to be bringing this up.
STEP 5: Gut check
The Great Resignation, which saw American workers quitting their jobs in record numbers, is just not about quitting your job says Anthony Klotz, the organizational psychologist and professor at Texas A&M who coined the phrase in May of 2021. “It’s not just about getting another job, or leaving the workforce, it’s about taking control of your work and personal life… This is a moment of empowerment for workers,” he told CNBC’s Make It in a January 2022 interview.
The Daybase blog is both aspirational and brass tacks, we don’t presume to know the specifics of anyone’s work or family situation. And so, the final step before having this conversation — or let’s be realistic, multiple conversations — about working a hybrid model is to get really clear on your bottom line.
Is working hybrid non-negotiable for you? If so, no need to approach the conversation like a bull in a China shop, but it’s important to know your bottom line. If hybrid work is something you’d like but isn’t a dealbreaker, that’s good to know too. Either way, a good gut check will help make this conversation clearer for you, which in turn, will help your outcome with your employer.