How will you know if hybrid working is a success?
Most people in the UK and US are starting to return to work, many in a hybrid pattern in the next few weeks. Some of our clients have opted to go straight to a full hybrid return to work. Others have decided to run a trial to evaluate the impact of hybrid working before rolling it out more widely.
We have had a few conversations this week around how you measure the success of hybrid, whether this is a formal trial or just a good thing to know as organisations evolve their approach to hybrid working.
By the way we strongly recommend that you position your announcements about hybrid working as a work in progress. No organisation will make a change of this magnitude without needing to fine tune and evolve their approach. If you make evolution and evaluation part of your strategy, then people will understand. If you launch a rigid policy, there is a good chance you will need to backtrack in the future as you learn more about the realities of hybrid working.
Most of our clients are looking at two broad strands of evaluation, engagement (as a proxy for the employee experience), and productivity.
The pre-COVID research on hybrid working is very positive, showing increased engagement and productivity versus working in the office if you want to run a formal evaluation of the impact of hybrid you will need some data.
Many organisations already track engagement and have useful data that reaches back before the pandemic. If you have these measures in place you will have a goldmine of information on the impact of pre, during and after the pandemic. I suspect this will keep academics happy for years and lead to some fascinating insights.
The story on productivity is, surprisingly, much more difficult. When people ask us how they will measure the impact of hybrid working on productivity we always ask “how do you measure it now?”. Surprisingly, few organisations have systematic measures of productivity at a level that would make before and after comparisons meaningful.
There is also the question of when do we compare with – 2019, 2020? It would be good to have comparisons of both so we could see the impact of full remote working on productivity too. We need to find measures that get to the right level of granularity to pick up the impact of hybrid working. Overall business performance is likely to be impacted by a recessionary environment in late 21 and 22, so we need some more specific measures.
Another alternative is to have a randomised control sample of people who return to the office full time. We can then compare engagement and productivity over a period of time between the two groups. We would expect this to be a challenge as it is likely that engagement would fall simply by not being given the choice to work hybrid, whether you wanted to or not.
What measures of productivity does your organisation have in place to enable the realistic evaluation of the impact of hybrid working?
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