In the post-pandemic world, many organizations are still experimenting with optimization of employee hybrid work schedules.
In an episode of the HRMorning podcast “Voices of HR,” Amy Cosgrove, the VP of people for North America for the finance/business management technology company Sage, said striking a balance between in-person collaboration and remote work maximizes productivity and employee well-being (she specifically mentioned the “found time” from less commuting to work).
“There are real personal and professional advantages to being able to be hybrid, as you can focus the work that you do on those remote days in a very different way,” she said. “The most important decision factors for companies are around what will make the company the most productive (and) what will make (employees) the most productive. And I think that that’s dependent on both the company and the culture, whether or not (employees) need collaboration or whether they need more focused time.”
Approaches to hybrid work
So is there such a thing as an ideal number of days in the office for maintaining healthy productivity and a healthy corporate culture?
“Our teams have team agreements. Each leader has determined the ideal number of days in the office for teams. … We have, for instance, ‘Together Tuesdays,’ where we all try to be in the office on Tuesdays, because what you don’t want is to go back to the office and nobody else is there,” she said.
Sage’s “Flexible Human Work” policy allows employees to decide how many days they want to work in the office, with a minimum of two days per week. In this hybrid work model, the teams “decide, at least one of those days (that) they’re all going to be in on the same day, so that they can actually have face-to-face meetings. They can have face-to-face team events, and really take advantage of the in-person collaboration that we all know exists,” she said.
One component of Sage’s Flexible Human Work is a “work away” program that allows employees to work remotely from anywhere in the world for up to 10 weeks per year. Because of payroll tax law implications, requests must be approved in advance.
According to Cosgrove, the keys to a successful hybrid work model are collaboration between managers and employees, and open communication. Managers need to be supportive of individual needs and preferences, regularly asking “What do you need?” Conversely, employees need to be open to discussing their work styles and preferences.
For example, during the worst parts of COVID, Sage had “always listening” time periods where employees could provide feedback via the company’s engagement survey platform. Leaders would then connect and communicate with employees about what they said could be better, driving employee engagement by showing that they care.