Most companies are about to return to the office in “hybrid” mode, with a minimum requirement to be in the office. This is what the Ordre des CRHA survey revealed in May. And this is confirmed by a more recent ADP Canada survey, where 60% of workers say their plan to return to the office has some form of hybrid schedule.
In a hybrid work scenario, two strong trends emerge: companies that will ask their employees to return to the office according to a fixed and predetermined formula of days in the office each week (52% of organizations, according to the Order’s survey) and those who will determine their policy according to the nature of the tasks (23%, again according to the Order’s survey).
How do these approaches differ? Is one approach better than the other? We asked Julie Tardif, CHRP, co-founder of the human resources consulting firm Iceberg Management.
I admit that I prefer a time-sharing model depending on the nature of the tasks or the nature of the intended benefits, explains the CHRP. If the company has identified that it wants to develop interpersonal relationships and a sense of belonging, then it can deploy initiatives in this regard: it will request the presence in the office for team meetings or training activities.”
For the CHRP, a work organization policy that merely requires a fixed number of days lacks transparency and clarity as to the reasons for returning to the office.
If the reasons are not well explained, the employees will ask themselves: am I coming back to make the commercial lease profitable? Is it to do the meetings that were abolished during telework? I think it’s better to communicate the benefits of being in the office, but also the benefits of staying at home.”
However, the CHRP understands the benefits of a fixed day policy from a management perspective. It is indeed easier for a manager to count the number of days an employee has come to the office than to help them build a hybrid work schedule to optimize their work at the office and at home.
Managers then trust that people will naturally do tasks for which they are more efficient in the office than they will at home. But is this still the case? asks the CHRP. Employees need help and if they do not raise their hand, ask them if they need it, otherwise the lack of personal organization can lead to a significant decrease in productivity.”
Focusing on added value
By adopting a telework policy based on the nature of the tasks, the employer focuses not on the number of days, but on the added value of being in the office. It forces employees to think about managing their energy, insists the CHRP. Because the challenge is there: to understand which tasks are done better at home and which ones are done better at the office.
Of course, there are general categories of tasks that seem to be done better in the office. In the Ordre des CRHA survey, workers identified team meetings, co-worker meetings and teamwork (23%) followed by human contact with co-workers (11%) and access to documents (9%) as having the most added value to get done at work. But, beyond these specific tasks, each worker has their own personal preferences.
The ability to concentrate at work is a personal dimension. Some immerse themselves more easily in tasks that require concentration at the office, while others can at home”, notes the CHRP.
The main disadvantage of a task-focused approach is that it requires a lot of autonomy and self-management from employees. Julie Tardif herself admits that if an employer does not indicate a minimum threshold of days in the office, some employees – due to lack of organization – will always stay at home or, on the contrary, will always go to the office, rather than practicing an “optimized” hybrid work schedule.
Once in a while, they will remember to go to the office. The employer will have to make reminders. Some employees will need a lot more coaching, they will feel lost having to make a home and office schedule.”
The CHRP explains that employers will therefore have to accompany their employees to analyze the nature of their tasks and their time to help them build their schedule.
Managers, it is now up to you to decide!