Everyone’s heard of remote and hybrid work models, but what about the “shybrid” approach? The term “shybrid” was first coined by Paul McKinlay, vice president of communications and remote working at printing company Cimpress, in a Bloomberg article in December. McKinlay described it as “the failure of companies to accept that they have, in many cases, lost the right to demand in-person attendance at a piece of real estate on any kind of regular basis. It’s about continually pushing back return dates without declaring on a future model and leaving people in this limbo.”
This shybrid approach is the result of a big gap between what employers want and what their employees want. An August survey from accounting and advisory organization, Grant Thorton, showed that 89% of executives plan to return to the office full time while 17% of non-executive workers want to fully return to the office.
This reluctance to commit to a single return to office date or strategy causes valuable talent to walk out the door–every departure costing companies money, resources, and time to rehire.
WHY DON’T EMPLOYEES WANT TO RETURN TO THE OFFICE?
Employees enjoy the flexibility that hybrid work offers them. They can decide when and where they work instead of being confined to a cubicle from 9 to 5. Hybrid work settings also allow employees to have a better work-life balance. Flexibility makes it easier in some cases to work around strict childcare hours and have more opportunities to participate in hobbies outside of work. Remote work also eliminates expenses for employees whether it’s wardrobe or commuting costs.
The pandemic has introduced the benefits of working from home, and many people aren’t willing to give up the freedom that a hybrid or remote work model provides them. A January poll from Bloomberg Morning Consult showed that 55 percent of remote workers would consider leaving their job if they were asked back to the office.
WHY IS SHYBRID STILL HAPPENING A YEAR LATER?
Some suspect that this stubbornness from employers comes from their refusal to relinquish a sense of control. Others believe it may be due to fear of losing the company culture and difficulty collaborating and communicating virtually.
Despite employers’ efforts to get people back in the office, many employees are reluctant to comply. Since many companies adhere to a hybrid or remote approach, organizations that continue to push in-person attendance suffer to retain talent, costing them money.
Since many companies adhere to a hybrid or remote approach, organizations that continue to push in-person attendance suffer to retain talent, costing them money.
Robert Teed, a Lambent advisor, and Founder and Chief Coaching Officer at Integri Group, acknowledged the battle between executives’ desire for a full office and employees’ preference for remote work at a recent fireside chat. Workers have said, ‘Hey, we want more flexibility,’ Teed remarked. “I tend to sort of wrap that [together] as being choice and flexibility, but the concept is exactly the same: it’s that they want to control that part of their lives.”
SO, WHAT’S NEXT FOR RETURN TO OFFICE?
Well, the summer months and typical vacation schedules might not help. The Pew Institute conducted a survey that showed that 64 percent of workers felt that it was easier to balance work and personal life after switching to telework. This includes the ability to vacation and spend time with family.
Not being constrained to the office, remote employees are able to work from wherever they choose which allows them to travel during the summer months.
WHAT CAN EMPLOYERS DO?
If employers are going to continue to pressure workers to come back into the office, then they need to redesign their spaces to enhance the in-person experience. Consequently, space planning teams have been tasked to plan the smartest spaces possible. For example, Space and Occupancy Planners at Wells Fargo, Inc. in Minneapolis are expected to understand shared and flexible seating and workplace strategies as well as concepts such as desk sharing.
Space planning teams are also reducing costs with better space management. Corporations need to reduce or restructure their office space in order to accommodate a workforce that will not return to a 5-day office presence.
Space planners need data they can easily visualize and the ability to predict future utilization patterns. They can get some information from badging but it lacks sophistication and the ability to predict future trends. Powerful AI software like Lambent Spaces has helped major employers bring workers back to the office safely.
Alex Trotto contributes to the Blog and Social Media channels for Lambent. She is currently a Northeastern University student in her sophomore year.