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How to be fair in a hybrid world

Hybrid working is a hot topic

What does a good hybrid working solution look like?

If you ask 10 different people, there’s a good chance you’ll get 10 different answers. We all have our own view on what ratio of remote to office work is best.

A poll by SurveyMonkey & Zoom highlights this wide variety among workers on their preferred post-pandemic working arrangements.

Of those employees who are already working remotely:

👉 33% prefer a hybrid model working mainly from the office
👉 32% prefer a hybrid model working mainly from home
👉 20% would like to work fully from the office
👉 15% would like to work fully from home

But the poll also found other factors at play. For example:

🏢 Younger workers are more likely to prefer office work
🏠 Technology workers are more likely to prefer working from home

And other variables can affect how people feel too. The poll found preferences could change depending on a respondent’s:

➡️ Race/Ethnicity
➡️ Gender
➡️ Education level
➡️ Income
➡️ Age
➡️ Industry

That means it’s unlikely any organization will land on a hybrid working solution that works for everyone.

But that makes your role even more important.

According to Microsoft’s 2021 Work Trend Index, 41% of employees are considering leaving their current employer. 46% are thinking about a major pivot or career transition.

If the new rhythm doesn’t work for a member of your team, it’s now more likely to nudge them towards the exit door.

Fly Clouds GIF by @levberry.

But you can make a big difference to your team’s sense of belonging by focusing on what equity and fairness look like in a hybrid workplace.

One of the challenges with hybrid working will be maintaining strong cultures, morale and camaraderie among team members—and ensuring fairness and equity both in practice and in perception. Organizational success is correlated with a strong sense of common purpose and shared identity—the feeling that we’re all aligned toward a common end goal and all have an important role to play—and fairness will be critical to a sense of unity. TRACY BROWER, PHD SOCIOLOGIST AND AUTHOR/WRITER

Here are three simple steps you can take to begin building equity and fairness into your new working arrangement.

Focus on individual colleagues

Deloitte’s 2021 ‘Return to Workplaces’ survey found that 32% of employers say their biggest concern about their future workplace makeup is “Maintaining culture”. Only 13% say “Maintaining fairness”.

🤔 Kevin Casey of The Enterpriser’s Project says this suggests there’s a greater interest in organizational needs rather than individual ones.

But it’s important to make sure your team feels their individual needs are recognized too.

✔️ Ask them in 1:1s how the new working arrangement affects them personally

✔️ Show empathy if the new arrangement affects someone individually

✔️ Share your own personal feelings about the arrangement, both positive and negative

An individual focus reminds everyone that their experiences and views matter.

Reduce the have / have not effect

Sociologist Tracy Brower says it’s important to reduce the impression that some employees have things that others haven’t based on where they’re working.

For example, if you’re in the office and have exciting news, try not to say it out loud to in-person colleagues. Share it first on a digital platform everyone can access.

Ask yourself how you can adjust your actions to make sure that as few people as possible miss out because of where they’re working.

Be accessible

Even if you have little input into your organization’s arrangement, make sure your team is able to talk to you, offer feedback and ask questions about the situation. If you sidestep these interactions, your colleagues could feel their views aren’t being heard.

Feeling heard is essential to build trust between you and your team.

💡 Pro tip: Check that you’re accessible to everyone equally, both those working remotely and those in person.

💪 An action to take away

When you next have a 1:1 session with your colleagues, ask them how they feel personally about the working arrangement. If you feel comfortable, share your candid reflections too.

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