According to a recent post-COVID study conducted by The Predictive Index, 97% of survey respondents—all of whom were CEOs—stated that their organizations will embrace some degree of remote work in the future. As workforces have acclimated to the work-from-home environment, several reports point to improvements in overall workplace productivity and performance. But if remote working arrangements are here to stay, how can organizations maintain a strong workplace culture and keep their employees engaged?
Recently, I was asked to moderate a webinar with a group of industry leaders who discussed this very topic. Titled “The New Hybrid Workplace,” this in-depth panel discussion centered around sustaining company culture, back-to-office plans, and overall workforce flexibility in the age of remote work. Here are some of the major takeaways from the conversation:
Remote, hybrid, or return-to-office?
If organizations have learned one thing over the past year, it’s that flexibility is critical to business success. That’s why companies must be mindful of flexibility when arranging their remote, hybrid, or return-to-office plans. A recent Forbes survey stated that 97% of employees don’t want to return to the office full-time; instead, they prefer a blend of working from home and working from the office. Flexible remote work arrangements are more suitable for all professionals—both young and old—to more effectively take care of personal responsibilities.
According to webinar panelist Trisha Daho, a strategy, culture, and diversity consultant with Empowered, companies have historically used remote work as a perk to reward top-performing employees. She suggested that organizations should evaluate workers’ annual performance on a case-by-case basis before deciding if they will be allowed to benefit from a flexible work schedule. For some employees, working in an office environment is critical in keeping them focused and productive.
Fellow panelist Allen Rogoway, a corporate real estate advisor with Cresa Global, believes that companies will have the opportunity to re-imagine space and workforce preferences. Rogoway predicts that companies will be much more intentional by offering physical space to collaborate in centralized locations with proximity to public transportation and amenities. Organizations will offer a variety of full-time and hybrid remote work options, thereby enhancing their ability to recruit, manage, and retain top talent.
Sustaining company culture
As businesses move forward with hybrid or fully remote work arrangements, they mustn’t lose sight of the significance of preserving company culture. Maintaining a positive and engaging workforce is of the utmost importance for any high-performing group or team. In the eyes of Trisha Daho, organizations can use this opportunity to refine and improve their culture for the future. By setting goals and KPIs to measure hiring and performance management initiatives, HR departments can initiate and drive a new and improved workplace culture—even when most employees are working remotely.
For many organizations, finding and retaining talent has long been a significant challenge to success. In some local or regional markets, quality talent can either be difficult to find or too expensive to hire. That’s why it makes sense for companies to prioritize a flexible workforce that can work from home. Instituting full-time remote work capabilities will enable businesses to expand their talent searches outside of a restricted area. Tapping into talent markets across the country can help discover candidates that better align with their organizational culture.
To accelerate a possible return to the office, some employers across the country have begun considering whether to mandate their employees to be vaccinated. Designed to increase worker safety, requiring employees to be vaccinated is allowed—although exceptions must be made for those with disabilities or certain religious beliefs. According to Walker Lawrence, a partner in Levin Ginsburg’s employment and labor practice group, expect employers to continue encouraging, incentivizing, or requiring their employees to receive the vaccine. Employers should also consider using tax credits that allow them to pay workers for the time spent getting the vaccine.
To lease or not to lease?
Due to the recent chaos in the commercial leasing space, Allen Rogoway predicts a rise in favorable, tenant-friendly market conditions over the next 12-18 months. As companies prioritize right-sizing, there will be a considerable amount of space available on the sublease market. Landlords will compete even harder for companies that are ready to commit to new spaces by offering greater flexibility in lease terms, expansion/retraction options, and concession packages—including robust tenant improvement allowances and rent abatement. Expressing a similar sentiment, Walker Lawrence stated that shorter leases will become the norm for organizations across the country, as tenant-friendly compliance rules will be advantageous for companies looking to maintain an in-office presence.
While our world is still coming to grips with what the future of the workplace will look like, early indications point to a flexible working environment—one that incorporates elements of remote and in-office work. To prepare for the road that lies ahead, organizations need to begin assessing commercial leases, evaluating the possibility of vaccine mandates, and mapping out strategic return-to-office plans. By proactively planning for the months to come, you will set up your organization for long-term business success.
Interested in learning how you can elevate your business performance through talent optimization? Contact our TalentRise team today!