Blogs > Intentional Insights > Best Return to Office Plan: A Team-Led Approach (Video and Podcast)

Sep 6, 2021

Best Return to Office Plan: A Team-Led Approach (Video and Podcast)

tags: leadership,decision making,wise decision making,leadership development,decision-making process,leaders,return to the office

Best Return to Office Plan: A Team-Led Approach (Video and Podcast)

The best practice on the return to office plan involves a team-led hybrid-first model with some fully remote options. That means empowering lower-level team leaders to choose the work arrangement that best serves their team’s needs. That's the key take-away message of this episode of the Wise Decision Maker Show, which describes a team-led approach for the best return to office plan.

Video: “Best Return to Office Plan: A Team-Led Approach”

Podcast: “Best Return to Office Plan: A Team-Led Approach”


Links Mentioned in Videocast and Podcast



 Hello, everyone, and welcome to another episode of the wise decision maker show where we help you make the wisest and most profitable decisions. And today will help you make the wisest and most profitable decisions about how exactly to return to the office most effectively. This is an important question, especially with the Delta Varian surging, and making things even more difficult for the return to the office. So how do you approach the question of returning to the office safely and effectively in a way that aligns with business objectives and employee desires, and in a way that you can make sure that you get the work done that you need, while retaining your employees and keeping their morale high. That's what you want. That's what we want. So let's talk about how that can be accomplished. First, realize that the Office of the future is not a throwback to the past, you're not going to succeed, if you're just going to do Monday through Friday, nine to five, the hybrid office of the hybrid workforce is the future. That is the future. And that's what you want to show and orient toward. We have a lot of surveys showing that most companies are actually going toward permanent hybrid work. Two thirds of all companies surveyed are going toward permanent hybrid work of the other, some are doing full time remote work, and some are going full time in the office, and the ones that are going full time in the office, or I think making a serious mistake. Employees for the future, what you're, what the workforce of the future will look like, is that employees will work in the office maybe one, two, maximum three days, usually closer to one, they on average, maybe two days, if they really need to be there, doing collaborative tasks, that's what's you really should be doing in the office only collaborative tasks. That's the activities that are on average best done in person, especially the more intense collaborative tasks. What are your individual tasks best done remotely, in your home office, or wherever you are. Two to four days, closer to four days for most folks, should be spent on their individual tasks, at their home office, or wherever they prefer to work. And some will work remotely full time in these companies, most of these companies that are going to hybrid, they will have some people who work remotely full time, those who do more individual tasks, those who are more successful doing individual work. So that is the future. How do you make the transition to that future? That's a really difficult question. This is nothing that has been done before, where lots of companies at the same time are making the transit transition. Of course, some have done so. So I can use best practices from those. And we can use extensive research that has been done, and how companies have done so effectively, including my own research. I've helped Fortune companies by now transitioning strategically back to the office. And so this is based on extensive external research as well as my own practical experience. You want to conduct an anonymous survey and preferences, to get employees to buy in, to make sure that they feel that their voices are heard, and that you know what they actually want. And you want to offer options offer an option of fully remote, which will include Of course, a quarterly team building retreat to maintain company culture, team cohesion, hybrid options of one to three days per week in the office, choose one else have you want one day in office two days in office three days in office, and then full time in the office five days Monday through Friday, most employees I can guarantee to you will prefer hybrid in the large majority of companies, that's what we clearly see, external surveys show the same thing. So there's a lot of very strong data that most people will prefer hybrid, something like usually two thirds and surveys. And maybe something like a quarter to a third will prefer remote work and then maybe 10 to 15% will prefer full time office work in most companies. And of course, your mileage may vary. So the hybrid, the fit that's best for most companies will be a hybrid first model, with most employees being hybrid with some working full time developing. Now, employees who work remotely really prefer this hybrid model based on extensive surveys. And data can tell productivity supports telework shows that productive people are quite a bit more productive, on average, doing work at home than in the office tend to 14% more productive and even more productive on their individual tasks. Which kind of makes sense because they're not distracted by others. They don't have to commute, which is the number one complaint of people who don't want to be in office. So we also know that employees feel happier, less stressed, more engaged, and that they have better work. work life balances all of those categories, really important ones for employees, if they have substantial remote work capacity, so much not coming into the office more than a day or two a week. Now, the best practice on returning to the office from this extensive research is first providing broad but flexible guidelines for your team leads, and then letting them lead the effort. Don't ask from the perspective of the top leadership, you should not say, here's what everyone is going to do. You shouldn't give broad guidelines. And then let the team leaders who lead the teams of your rank and file employees, so those lower level supervisors determine what works best for their teams. And that should be based on the balance between their individual tasks and their collaborative tasks. Again, collaborative tasks are usually for the more intense ones that are done in the office, the ones that are more or less intense collaborative tasks, that's a wash, you can do them, the office or Tom, and individual tasks are much better done at home. So that's what you want to be thinking about. That's the guidance that you give your team leads in order to make the decisions. Now what about that full time remote work? So we have that hybrid option for most employees. I mentioned that some should work full time remotely, as a full time remote worker, who should do so? Well, only people who can be effective and successful should do so. And that involves people who are self starters, who take initiative, who can make their own way and who can be disciplined working at home. Those are the folks who you want to encourage to work full time, remote, support them working full time remotely. Even if the rest of the team works hybrid, even if a team lead decides Well, we're gonna work hybrid. Still, in the large majority of cases, you want to permit those folks if they can be successful working remotely to work remotely, and encourage the team leaders to permit them to work remotely. Now they would come into the office to maintain their team culture for team building retreat, once a quarter which you should be having anyway for all team members. So that's what the full time remote workers would be. Now, I can guarantee to you from my experience, significant resistance from team leads. Team leads tend to really prefer to be in the office quite a bit more than their employees. Now common reasons for this resistance to hybrid and especially full time remote work arrangements for the employees who are led by these team leads. So for the team members personal discomfort with remote work by the team leaders, team leaders really do feel uncomfortable, they tend to have a personal preference for having in office activities. And they feel a loss of control, a loss of oversight, a loss of engagement with their employees. Now, that is all due to some unfortunate mental blind spots called cognitive biases. And if you've checked out the wise decision maker show, you'll know that we talk about cognitive biases a lot. These are mental blind spots, they cause us to make really bad decisions, whether it's on returning to the office or other areas that are in particular to cognitive biases that you will need to address to make sure that you are returned to the office is effective, and does not face problematic resistance from team leads, who will say all of my employees should work Monday through Friday nine to five, that's a bad idea. You do not want that. So two cognitive biases. One is called the status quo bias, where we tend to orient toward what makes us comfortable because we're used to it, the status quo, we want to get back to it to whatever we perceive as the status quo, if we've shifted from it, or maintain it, if it's fair right now, that's one of these cognitive biases. The other cognitive bias is called load, the anchoring bias, the anchoring bias, were anchored to our initial experiences, even if those disruptions happen that could cause us to should cause us to reassess our initial experiences. So supervisors, those team leads, they've been successful for many, many years doesn't tell 20 years, 30 years in their career for in office environments. And in office management of teams, where they have those people they can see they can have that direct supervision, direct control, direct engagement, direct oversight, they feel successful with that. And they do not feel that they can succeed nearly as well, if they don't have those team members under their oversight, and that's a big problem. So both that status quo bias and the anchoring bias caused team leads to make bad decisions. In order to overcome these cognitive biases caused by team leads. You want to treat remote work as the default. So in order to overcome these cognitive biases, That's why you should have a team work remote work as the default, and only come to the office for specific collaborative activities. So you want to justify any time in the office. And that might be one day, we can be justified by coordinating the team, making sure that everyone's on the same page and having a meeting. So one day a week for hybrid workers should be the default for hybrid work. And that doesn't mean the whole day. That means coming in for a team meeting, spending a few hours and then going home to their individual tasks, any larger activities, projects, brainstorming, and so on, that you want. Those, of course, are additional collaborative activities for which you can come in more often. But you want to justify that as opposed to having that as a default. What about people who will say, Well, what we want more than three days at one to three days, it's not sufficient, that should really be a red flag, that's likely people falling into cognitive bias, because, you know, most of the tasks that you're doing are unlikely to be intense collaborative tasks that require you to be in the office. So you should really justify that very strongly. You should make sure that your team leads who are trying to force people back into the office for more than three days, justify that, especially strongly vision, definitely justify anything over one day. But anything that sort of free days should be not simply strongly justified, but also compensated, like overtime work, so that there's a financial motivation, their budgets will be hit, if they have people in the office for more than three days a week. Well, that's the team lead approached for the best return to Office plan. So you want to make sure to use this team lead approach where you provide those broad but flexible guidelines, while also educating the team leads on these cognitive biases, and having those specific default options as well as financial options, financial incentives, to allow most of your employees to be home for the large majority of the time, when they'll be most productive on average. Alright, well, I hope you've benefited from this episode of the wise decision maker show, please subscribe to whatever channel you've checked out the Sherpa sedan, we have YouTube, the video cast version, we have iTunes, and so on the podcast version. And please leave your comments and thoughts. I'd love to hear them, please email them to Gleb at disaster avoidance Again, global disaster avoidance experts that come and there'll be much more information about the topic of the best return to the office in the show notes. So check those out as well. All right, everyone. I look forward to seeing you on the next episode of the wisest decision maker show. And in the meantime, the wisest and most profitable decisions to you, my friends.  

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Originally Published at Disaster Avoidance Experts on July 27, 2021.  

Bio: Dr. Gleb Tsipursky is an internationally-renowned thought leader in future-proofing and cognitive bias risk management. He serves as the CEO of the boutique future-proofing consultancy Disaster Avoidance Experts, which specializes in helping forward-looking leaders avoid dangerous threats and missed opportunities. A best-selling author, he wrote Never Go With Your Gut: How Pioneering Leaders Make the Best Decisions and Avoid Business Disasters (Career Press, 2019), The Blindspots Between Us: How to Overcome Unconscious Cognitive Bias and Build Better Relationships (New Harbinger, 2020), and Returning to the Office and Leading Hybrid and Remote Teams: A Manual on Benchmarking to Best Practices for Competitive Advantage (Intentional Insights, 2021). His writing was translated into Chinese, Korean, German, Russian, Polish, and other languages. He was featured in over 550 articles and 450 interviews in prominent venues. These include Fortune, USA Today, Inc. Magazine, CBS News, Business Insider, Government Executive, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Time, Fast Company, and elsewhere. His expertise comes from over 20 years of consulting, coaching, and speaking and training for mid-size and large organizations ranging from Aflac to Xerox. It also comes from over 15 years in academia as a behavioral scientist, including 7 as a professor at Ohio State University. You can contact him at Gleb[at]DisasterAvoidanceExperts[dot]com, LinkedIn, Twitter @gleb_tsipursky, Instagram @dr_gleb_tsipursky, Medium @dr_gleb_tsipursky, and gain free access to his “Assessment on Dangerous Judgment Errors in the Workplace” and his “Wise Decision Maker Course” with 8 video-based modules.

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