It’s Impossible to Explain – Managing Hybrid/Remote Work Part IV

July 28, 2023

This series has been based so far on the assumption that our organization leaders are smart and forward-thinking.  If this is the case, previous examples related to employee treatment by Corporate Management have been impossible to explain.

In this instance, we want to focus on employee expectations that are impossible to explain.

Recently the issue was raised that it’s a “fairness” problem.  It’s understandable that this issue may arise because, pre-Covid, working from home when the job permitted was often perceived as a benefit.  It was thought to be a privilege for highly valued, trusted employees who couldn’t come to work for one reason or another.

Yet sales people rarely came to the office.  Did that mean they were more trusted?  Of course not – it’s not an issue of trust.  It meant that they needed to be working with their prospects and customers in the field for the company to be successful.

This is not a complicated problem.  Jobs exist to provide labor or service to an organization’s goals and objectives.  If the jobs are on manufacturing lines, people must be at work to keep the lines running.  If the jobs are office jobs that can be performed from home, the manager and team can determine the optimum schedule (hybrid or on-site) that meets the company needs and takes into consideration the employees’ personal situations as well as how and when they are most productive.

Work schedules, like responsibilities and competitive pay, are based on the job.  This is not a fairness issue and can be handled simply through an adult-to-adult conversation.

In addition, remote work or a hybrid schedule is not an employee right.

We recently heard that a group of HR folks who did internal training and consulting wanted to work remotely.  In one instance, classroom training was conducted with all participants in the same classroom and the instructor on Zoom.  If the job is to support internal customers, the needs of those customers should determine the employee’s on-site availability.  We believe the trainer brings additional energy and relationship building when in person.

When urgent problem-solving is required, employees should prioritize the needs of internal customers over their own remote work schedule. An engineer was needed to solve a problem at work.  It was his scheduled remote day and when he was called, he said he wouldn’t come in because it was his “at home” day.

In a high performance work place, we are advocates for maximizing results through open, adult communication and collaboration.  The issue of remote/hybrid schedules has become far more complicated than it needs to be.  There has been an overfocus on time vs. results vs. outcomes.  And, it’s pretty simple that if organizations want to attract and retain talent, schedule flexibility for the employee should be a clear consideration.

What is so hard about making adult-to-adult conversations on issues like this simply a part of the culture?

That’s all we have to say on this topic.  Our next Blog series will be focused on how impossible it is to explain that poor customer service costing thousands of dollars in lost business continues to be prevalent.