Design and Construction, Human Resources, Sustainability/Business Continuity

7 Ways Organizations Can Lead Workers Into a Hybrid World

As workplaces continue to deal with the challenges of developing an effective hybrid environment for their employees, it is important that facilities managers work together with executives so they can help their organizations succeed while meeting the needs of both management and employees. Mike Petrusky, host of the “Workplace Innovator Podcast” and the “Asset Champion Podcast,” as well as Director of Events at iOFFICE + SpaceIQ, recently spoke about these challenges during the Facilities Management Advisor’s Facilities Management Now 2022 webcast session entitled “Facility Management for the Hybrid World: Leading Your Team for the Future Workplace.”

Petrusky compared COVID-19 and its aftermath to The Lord of the Rings trilogy, saying employees played the role of Bilbo Baggins when they were forced to work from home at the beginning of the pandemic. He added that while it took some adjustment, employees finally got comfortable working from home. He also compared Gandalf to the role that executives should take as they inspire employees to go on an adventure by coming back to the workplace.

“Leaders need to lead organizations and people, we need someone to come along and inspire us to remember what it was like to be with other people,” he said, adding that facilities teams have the responsibility of improving their facilities and working with other departments to make a hybrid world happen, as we cannot go back to how organizations functioned before the pandemic.

7 Ways Organizations Can Lead Workers into a Hybrid World

1. Technologically Agile Physical Workspaces

Organizations should use technology to provide information on what is going on in their facilities to employees regarding:

  • Cleaning protocols—how the facility is being cleaned by facilities professionals;
  • Air quality—how the air is cleaned and data backing it up;
  • Sensors—measure temperature, humidity, and occupancy levels; and
  • Desk and room bookings—rooms or areas that can be booked in advance on employees’ cellphones based on the estimated number of occupants.

2. Communicate with Employees

It’s important to communicate what the current plan is regarding returning to work full time or on a hybrid basis. Specifically, organizations should ensure employees understand:

  • How the facility is being changed to acknowledge the changing needs of employees;
  • The value of the office setting and the pleasure of working with people in person;
  • How the facility will meet Maslow’s hierarchical needs, including physiological, safety, love and belonging, esteem, and self-actualization; and
  • How concerns of employees who may not be ready to go back to the worksite will be addressed.

3. Power of Working Remotely

For those who prefer, offer an option to work remotely at least part time. Organizations should:

  • Effectively provide remote employees with the ability to participate virtually with people in facility conference rooms.
  • Allow employees to use personal technology (such as mobile devices) so they can work from wherever they choose.
  • Provide employees with different workplace setup ideas, either in the office or remotely, such as a stand-up desk, dual monitors, and a privacy screen.
  • More clearly understand the pros and cons of working remotely and working in the office.

4. Redesign

“This is scary for FM’s because there are a lot of costs related to making shifts in the physical world where it is much cheaper to make shifts in the digital world,” Petrusky said, adding that there is no one-size-fits-all approach.

He said this can be done by organizations that will:

  • Make data-driven decisions by using technology to determine how and when the facility will be used, which is especially important when facilities managers redesign communal areas such as break rooms, conference rooms, and multipurpose rooms.
  • Initiate pilot programs, and try different designs.
  • Establish new amenities.
  • Embrace immediate failure as a way to come up with other ideas.

5. Sell Ideas

Facilities managers need to sell their ideas to improve the worksite to leadership. These ideas should be based on:

  • Feedback from recent employee surveys
  • Lessons learned from educational sessions and conferences
  • Research on other facilities
  • The need to have a framework to move forward while using technology as a tool to support the team

6. Balance Needs

The Great Resignation proved that workers can abruptly leave their job and find another relatively quickly. As a result, the workplace must balance the needs of the employee and the employer:

  • Leadership needs to ensure employees are productive at work.
  • Facilities managers need to redesign spaces so employees will be satisfied working in them.

7. Break Down Silos

Petrusky compared departments in a facility to the five high school students who sat in a Saturday detention in the 1985 movie The Breakfast Club. Each student had his or her own label, but they found out they had more in common than they thought. Likewise, he recommended that facilities managers:

  • Help encourage the breaking down of silos.
  • Work together with other departments, including Human Resources, IT, marketing, and the executive team.

In the end, Petrusky said that facilities management teams, along with other departments, need to make returning to the workplace as attractive as possible. He added they should follow the philosophy sung in Robert Palmer’s 1988 song “Simply Irresistible.”

Be sure to check out “Facility Management for the Hybrid World: Leading Your Team for the Future Workplace” by clicking here.