• 5 Hybrid and Remote Work Models Your Association Can Consider

    It’s no secret that how and where people work has changed drastically over the last two years due to COVID-19. More than ever before, Canadians find themselves working from home.

    Organizations have experienced both positive and negative effects of this shift. Positives have ranged from increased productivity and employee satisfaction, while negatives include decreased engagement and communication challenges. But, despite the challenges, employees want options.

    “People want flexibility in every part of their work. They want flexibility in where they work, in when they work and sometimes in how they get their jobs done,” said Deanna Lanoway, vice president of strategic HR consulting at People First HR. “It depends on what kind of work they’re doing. But the ability to creatively solve problems and come up with different ways of doing things is important to most employees.”

    And with a very tight market for talent and retention challenges across sectors, employers are facing a daunting task in deciding the best work arrangements for their organizations.

    “Today what we know is that there’s a lot of stress on organizations to make sure that they’re offering the kind of flexibility and perks that their employees want,” said Lanoway.

    But how do you choose the hybrid or remote work model that’s right for your association? Lanoway recently spoke to CSAE members about the various hybrid remote-work models and the challenges and benefits of each.

    Here is an overview of what they are:

    Hybrid and Remote Work Models

    The Office-Centric Hybrid

    Though many employees don’t want to go back to working in an office full-time, there are still good arguments for having one.

    “The main reason why we still look to this model for a lot of organizations is it’s easier to build a team when colleagues are together for one-on-one professional advice and support,” said Lanoway.

    “When you get people together, you build more connection. It’s faster to resolve small issues. So, there are still lots of benefits around working in an office.”

    An office-centric hybrid model means employees are coming into the office most of the time, but there’s flexibility allowing them to work from home or another location, on specific dates. Lanoway said this model is mostly used for organizations that are “regionally tight.”

    “If almost everybody who works for your organization lives in Winnipeg [for example],” she said. “It’s an approach that offers flexibility in setting your own hours, but it gives you the opportunity to have that team environment with some flexibility that helps keep your employees happier and healthier emotionally.”

    The Fully-Flexible Hybrid

    The fully-flexible hybrid model is when an organization allows all employees to choose when they want to work from the office and when they’d like to work from another location. No scheduling or prior approval is needed.

    “It’s what works best for them,” said Lanoway.

    One of the issues that could arise with this model is if there are concerns over available office space. In that case, this model could lead to coordination issues.

    “Although we hope we’re close to the end of the pandemic, you may not be able to put people right beside each other the way that you did in the past,” said Lanoway. “So, the coordination issue is a bit challenging, especially if you want to have some of the benefits of affordability of having fewer people in the office.”

    The Remote-Friendly Hybrid Model

    The remote-friendly hybrid model involves placing constraints on which employees can work remotely.

    “Organizations that have newer employees often struggle with ensuring that they have the support that they need. Sometimes newer employees or less-experienced employees, or employees in particular roles just don’t do as well working from home,” said Lanoway. “The remote-friendly hybrid basically means we’re mostly an office organization that allows for remote work.”

    This model also gives an organization a way to retain employees who might otherwise move on. For instance, if an employee wants to relocate to another city because their partner got a new job, the organization can allow that particular employee to work remotely.

    There are some equity concerns that can arise with this model. Some employees may wonder why one person can work remotely while they can’t. But this model can also be very good for hiring and attracting new talent.

    “If you have specific requirements and you need to have particular kinds of talent, it gives you an opportunity to find somebody, even if they’re not in your region, while you still have some of the benefits of being in office,” said Lanoway.

    The Hybrid Remote-Office Model

    The hybrid remote-office model means giving employees a menu of options to choose from, but each option has some restrictions or requirements to it.

    For example, an employee can decide they want to work in the office, but if they choose that option, they are committing to working from the office. If an employee chooses to work from home three days a week, they can’t just decide they want to work from the office again full time without any discussion or planning with management.

    “This is a model where you can pick so there’s a lot of flexibility, but once you pick, there are some requirements within that model,” said Lanoway.

    The Fully Remote Model

    Being fully remote means all employees work remotely, with the organization having no central office. Some organizations are built as remote from day one, while others may have decided to go fully remote over the course of the pandemic.

    There are many benefits to the fully remote model, such as being able to hire talent from across the country and the world. It also means fewer overall costs because you won’t be paying to lease office space.

    Yet, one of the biggest challenges to being fully remote is building a strong company culture.

    “It is definitely harder to build and maintain a strong culture,” said Lanoway. “When you’re not co-located, you’re just not spending that much time with people.”

    Though you can build meaningful relationships virtually, there’s more to company culture than that.

    “Culture is the style of interaction. . . It’s that ability to continue to seek your goals, drive to achieve, but think of people first,” said Lanoway. “That is harder to do and it requires really intentional effort when you’re not ever together.”

    Other challenges with the model include employee onboarding and team collaboration if that’s a big part of how your organization works.

    “When you have high collaboration needs, you might want to have opportunities where people do get together once in a while for specific in-person work,” said Lanoway. “Or you have to really look at the technology that you’re putting in place to make sure that it addresses the type of collaboration you need.”

    Read more informative content for association leaders on the CSAE Blog.

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