Americans are heading back to the office. But while the biggest corporations are making bold moves around how and where their employees work, credit unions must tread more carefully. Avoid borrowing strategies that don’t fit your mission and culture, instead look to your team and the outcomes you hope to achieve and come up with a hybrid strategy that is best for your organization.
The process for creating a great hybrid workplace isn’t as different as you’d think – it still revolves around understanding your employees and the work they do and coming up with a strategy that supports them. And this is even more important in a hybrid setting, as leaders often had a fundamentally different experience with remote work than their teams.
We’d like to share a few questions to help get you thinking about your hybrid strategy and assess how it is impacting your employees and your mission.
What are the greatest benefits of working from home, and can any of these benefits be carried over to the office?
Think about the advantages that your employees have seen working from home. A commonly reported benefit is higher productivity with individual focused work. If there is a significant gap in any of the areas you’ve identified advantages in working from home, there may be an issue with your physical working environment that needs to be addressed. For example, are distractions and interruptions disrupting your employees trying to focus on individual work in the office?
Who benefits most from working from home? What is your hybrid policy for different roles in your organization?
In many, if not most organizations, it’s the knowledge workers in highly collaborative roles who gained the ability to work from home during the pandemic while more task-based workers focused on individual production needed to stay in-person. Yet the latter are much more easily held accountable to clearly defined goals than the former. If collaborative workers are more remote while individual contributors spend more time in the office, this can point to a disconnect between a hybrid strategy and the intended outcomes.
What are the benefits of in-person work, and are they being realized?
In-person work and face-to-face interactions help employees build trust and develop working relationships, which is the foundation of your organization’s culture. It also supports better collaboration, as well as cross-departmental cooperation and an exchange of ideas that leads to innovation.
But are these benefits being realized? Consider if team members’ in-office days overlap and whether these interactions are actually happening. One of the worst-case scenarios of a return to office is employees working alone in mostly empty offices, meeting via Zoom.
Isolation is consistently listed as one of the greatest challenges of working from home. Is this a challenge in the office as well? An effective hybrid strategy must address this issue.
Are your staff adequately trained and supported?
Think about how your hybrid strategy supports mentorship and knowledge transfer. Do newer employees have enough interaction with their seniors, and is the knowledge and culture of your credit union being passed down? Do newer employees have the same access to leadership and opportunities for advancement as those who started before the pandemic?
Are you creating an experience that makes employees want to come into the office?
It’s one thing to tell employees to return, but an entirely different challenge to motivate them to return. Is your hybrid working experience motivating your employees to return? Does your office support their work activities? Their comfort and wellbeing? Their need for human connections?
If employees are asked to return and don’t want to, this can lead to attrition. It’s critical that you understand what it is that employees want out of the in-person experience and to give them a clear reason to return.
These questions aren’t comprehensive of hybrid workplaces, nor do they provide an overview of the topic. But rather they are intended to help credit union leaders think about the expectations of a hybrid workplace strategy versus the reality, and to identify opportunities for improvement.
At Momentum, we believe that hybrid is the future of credit union workplaces and we’ve invested heavily in researching this topic. The most comprehensive resource available today is the whitepaper The New Hybrid Credit Union Workplace, published in partnership with The Filene Research Institute. You can download it from Filene at filene.org/560.
If you have any questions about the hybrid future or work or developing a hybrid workplace strategy at your own credit union, reach out today and start a conversation.