- To create a successful hybrid work model, top-level executives must be actively involved in the decision-making process, as the transition to a permanent hybrid work model is a strategic choice that impacts the company’s future.
- It is essential to gather baseline quantitative and qualitative data for each metric, including employee surveys and focus group interviews, to inform decision-making before establishing a permanent hybrid work policy.
- Companies may experiment with various hybrid work policies by continuously reassessing and refining their strategy, then comparing the results to identify the most effective approach.
As a staggering 74% of American businesses embrace long-term hybrid work structures, it becomes imperative for company leaders to assess the efficacy of their chosen work models. Since a one-size-fits-all approach does not apply to hybrid work environments, organizations must determine the best model for their unique needs and culture. So, how can leaders gauge the success of their chosen hybrid model and make necessary adjustments?
The initial step is to define clear success indicators. However, many companies fall short when it comes to evaluating crucial aspects of hybrid work transitions. For instance, an Omdia report reveals that while 54% of organizations experienced improved productivity after adopting hybrid work arrangements, only 22% established metrics to measure these enhancements.
The adage “what gets measured, gets managed” highlights the significance of selecting relevant and measurable metrics that contribute to an organization’s success. To ensure meaningful data, both quantitative, objective measures and qualitative, subjective assessments should be employed.
A Strategic Choice: The Hybrid Work Model
To create a successful hybrid work model, top-level executives must be actively involved in the decision-making process, with the Board’s approval. Delegating this task to the HR department is a mistake, as the transition to a permanent hybrid work model is a strategic choice that impacts the company’s future. This decision demands careful consideration and coordination from the highest levels of the organization.
To establish effective metrics, it is recommended that the executive team participate in an offsite meeting, where they can focus on long-term strategic planning without distractions. Prior to this event, it is essential to gather baseline quantitative and qualitative data, including employee surveys and focus group interviews, to inform decision-making.
Identifying Crucial Success Metrics for Your Hybrid Work Model
My clients’ experiences have shown that various success metrics can be employed, with some being more critical than others. Each of these metrics should be measured before establishing a permanent hybrid work policy, to get a baseline. Then, the metrics need to be evaluated every quarter, to evaluate the impact of refinements to the hybrid work policy.
Retention offers a clear-to-measure hard success metric, one both quantitative and objective. A related metric, recruitment, is a softer metric: it’s harder to measure and more qualitative in nature. External benchmarks definitely indicate offering more remote work facilitates both retention and recruitment. For instance, a survey of 1,000 HR leaders finds that 95% of respondents believe offering hybrid work to be important for recruitment, and 60% perceive hybrid work to boost retention. And in a report by Owl Labs that surveyed 2,300 full-time US workers, 52% indicated they would be willing to take a pay cut of 5% or more to be able to choose where they could work.
Thus, if the C-suite chooses to adopt a more flexible policy, I recommend my clients put it on their website “Join Us” page, as did one of my clients, the University of Southern California’s Information Sciences Institute. HR will inevitably find they get an uptick in inquiries from job applicants referencing this policy, as well as potential hires showing enthusiasm for it in interviews. That enthusiasm is something that can be measured.
A key metric, performance, may be harder or easier to measure depending on the nature of the work. For instance, a study published in the National Bureau of Economic Review reported on a randomized control trial comparing the performance of software engineers assigned to a hybrid schedule vs. an office-centric schedule. Engineers who worked in a hybrid model wrote 8% more code over a six-month period. Writing code is a standardized and objective measure of productivity and provides strong evidence of higher productivity with at least some remote work. If there is no option to have such clear performance measurement, use regular weekly assessments of performance from supervisors. But avoid software tracking programs, because the Owl Labs report finds that it causes 45% of employees to feel stressed.
Collaboration and innovation are critical metrics to effective team performance, but measuring them isn’t easy. Evaluating them requires relying on more qualitative assessments from team leaders and team members. Moreover, by training teams in effective hybrid innovation and collaboration techniques, you can improve these metrics.
Several hard-to-measure metrics are important for an organization’s culture and talent management: morale, engagement, well-being, happiness, burnout, intent to leave, and quiet quitting. For instance, the Owl Labs report indicates that 46% of employees would quiet quit if forced back to the office full-time, meaning do the bare minimum needed to avoid getting fired.
Getting at these metrics requires the use of more qualitative and subjective approaches, such as customized surveys specifically adapted to hybrid and remote work policies. As part of doing the survey, it’s helpful to ask respondents to opt into participating in focus groups around these issues. Then, in the focus groups, you can dig deeper into the survey questions and get at people’s underlying feelings and motivations.
One way to get at wellbeing and burnout involves a hard metric: employees taking sick days. By measuring how that changes over time — seasonally adjusted — you can evaluate the impact of your policies on employee mental and physical health.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion represents an often-overlooked, but critically important, metric impacted by hybrid work. We know that underrepresented groups strongly prefer more remote work. Thus, my clients who chose to have a mostly office-centric schedule had to invest substantial resources into boosting their DEI to compensate for the inevitable loss of underrepresented talent.
Measuring DEI is quite easy and objective: look at the retention of underrepresented rank-and-file staff and leaders as the hybrid work strategy gets implemented. Also, make sure that your surveys allow staff to self-identify relevant demographic categories so that you can measure DEI as it relates to engagement, morale, and so on.
Last, but far from least, my clients also consider professional and leadership development, and onboarding and integration of junior team members. A Conference Board survey finds 58% of employees would leave without adequate professional development, and that applies even more so to underrepresented groups. Leadership development is critical to the long-term continuity of any company. And onboarding and integration of junior staff is a fundamental need for success. Yet most companies struggle with figuring out how to do these well in a hybrid setting.
Measuring professional development is best done through more subjective tools, such as surveys and focus groups. You can also assess how much staff improve in the areas where they received professional development, and compare in-person vs. remote modalities of delivering learning.
Evaluating leadership development is easier and more quantitative and objective. Assess how well your newly promoted leaders succeed based on performance evaluations and 360-degree reviews. Onboarding and integrating new staff involves performance evaluations by supervisors and measurements of their productivity.
Try, Try Again
As the new policy is implemented, leaders should continue to evaluate its success based on the chosen metrics. If the results are unsatisfactory, adjustments can be made, and the effects of these changes monitored. Companies may also experiment with various hybrid work policies, comparing the results to identify the most effective approach. By continuously reassessing and refining their strategy, organizations can successfully achieve their hybrid work model goals.