My Employees Wanted the Home-Centric Model
tags: wise decision making,leadership development,wise decision maker,leaders,hybrid work,decision making process,decision-making,Hybrid teamwork,working remote from home,Home-Centric Model
Do you follow the desires of your employees or the advice of your peers on hybrid work arrangements? Adam Glassman, Executive Director of the Jaeb Center for Health Research, faced this dilemma. He attended one of my trainings on hybrid and remote work that I gave for Vistage, the executive coaching organization that has peer executive groups around the globe, in collaboration with the Vistage Chief Research Officer Joe Galvin.
Factors to Consider
After the training, Glassman met with me to discuss what to do at the Jaeb Center. Glassman's organization, like many others, sent its staff home in March 2020, which gave the organization an opportunity to rethink how they would work in the future. The decision ultimately came down to whether to bring everyone back to the office, adopt a hybrid model, or become a home-centric company. Glassman considered a variety of factors, including feedback from staff, input from Vistage members and other executives, and financial considerations.
Other Vistage members in his group overwhelmingly pushed him to go back to the office, but I asked him what his employees prefer. The Jaeb Center surveyed its 120 employees and found that over 90% of them preferred the home-centric model. Glassman and I discussed how employee empowerment and listening to team members are essential for retention and happier team members. He acknowledged that there were legitimate concerns about culture and growth and development, but he also knew that they could overcome these challenges with creativity and purposeful decision-making. Thus, I advised him to go with the home-centric model, and that’s what he ended up doing.
One significant factor that influenced Glassman's decision was retention. He knew that allowing his staff to work from home would not only retain current employees but also help with recruitment. Before the pandemic, less than 5% of Glassman's staff worked remotely. Now, a third of the company is not local to Tampa, Florida, where their home base is located. The ability to recruit nationally and not have a dynamic where one or two people are virtually excluded was essential to Glassman. He believed that bringing people into the office for one or two days a week still did not solve this problem.
Another factor that Glassman considered was productivity. He knew that 90% of the work that his employees did was individual, with only 10% being collaborative. Research shows that people who work remotely tend to be individually more productive than people who work in the office, but the connection between people does suffer. Glassman acknowledged that this was still an area that his company struggled with, regardless of whether they were working from home or in the office.
Challenges With Remote Work
One of the biggest challenges of the work-from-home model, Glassman said, is measuring productivity. Unlike jobs where workers have clear quantitative goals, such as producing a set number of items or making a certain number of phone calls, evaluating productivity at a health research center can be more difficult. Glassman said his team is working to find better ways to quantify productivity but in the meantime, they are relying on team leaders to assess how their employees are doing qualitatively.
The shift to remote work has, however, boosted morale in some ways, according to Glassman. He noted that many employees appreciate not having to deal with long commutes, and the center has offered a range of educational opportunities to keep staff engaged with the company's mission. The center has also taken steps to cultivate culture, such as organizing team-building events like axe-throwing and a chili cook-off.
Glassman acknowledged that maintaining culture has been a concern for many leaders in organizations that have gone remote. However, he emphasized that using virtual formats like Microsoft Teams for daily interactions can help to build and maintain culture.
One significant challenge of working from home, Glassman noted, is the need for strong IT support to ensure that sensitive information is protected. The James Center for Health Research is a health care company that deals with sensitive data, so they need to ensure that remote workers are just as secure as they would be in the office. The center has provided all of its staff with the IT equipment they need to work effectively and securely from home.
In the end, Glassman said, it is important to remember that the work-from-home model is not the same as working in the office. Although some things are different, it is possible to maintain productivity, morale, and culture. Glassman noted that while the center is still working on finding better ways to measure productivity, it is focusing on team leaders to assess how their employees are doing.
Overall, the shift to remote work has been successful for the James Center for Health Research. The center has been able to maintain productivity, boost morale, and cultivate culture while keeping its employees safe during the pandemic. With the right support, Glassman said, remote work can be just as effective as working in the office. While he faced pushback from fellow Vistage members and board members, he ultimately listened to his staff's feedback and made a decision that he believed was the best for his company.
Employee preference key in adopting remote work. Listen, empower, retain and stay secure... >Click to tweet
Image credit: Karolina Grabowska/Pexels
Dr. Gleb Tsipursky was lauded as “Office Whisperer” and “Hybrid Expert” by The New York Times for helping leaders use hybrid work to improve retention and productivity while cutting costs. He serves as the CEO of the boutique future-of-work consultancy Disaster Avoidance Experts. Dr. Gleb wrote the first book on returning to the office and leading hybrid teams after the pandemic, his best-seller Returning to the Office and Leading Hybrid and Remote Teams: A Manual on Benchmarking to Best Practices for Competitive Advantage (Intentional Insights, 2021). He authored seven books in total, and is best know for his global bestseller, Never Go With Your Gut: How Pioneering Leaders Make the Best Decisions and Avoid Business Disasters (Career Press, 2019). His cutting-edge thought leadership was featured in over 650 articles and 550 interviews in Harvard Business Review, Forbes, Inc. Magazine, USA Today, CBS News, Fox News, Time, Business Insider, Fortune, and elsewhere. His writing was translated into Chinese, Korean, German, Russian, Polish, Spanish, French, and other languages. His expertise comes from over 20 years of consulting, coaching, and speaking and training for Fortune 500 companies from Aflac to Xerox. It also comes from over 15 years in academia as a behavioral scientist, with 8 years as a lecturer at UNC-Chapel Hill and 7 years as a professor at Ohio State. A proud Ukrainian American, Dr. Gleb lives in Columbus, Ohio. In his free time, he makes sure to spend abundant quality time with his wife to avoid his personal life turning into a disaster. Contact him at Gleb[at]DisasterAvoidanceExperts[dot]com, follow him on LinkedIn @dr-gleb-tsipursky, Twitter @gleb_tsipursky, Instagram @dr_gleb_tsipursky, Facebook @DrGlebTsipursky, Medium @dr_gleb_tsipursky, YouTube, and RSS, and get a free copy of the Assessment on Dangerous Judgment Errors in the Workplace by signing up for the free Wise Decision Maker Course at https://disasteravoidanceexperts.com/newsletter/.
comments powered by Disqus