Pilgrim is market director and jobs expert with global talent solutions firm Robert Half. She lives in La Jolla.
One of the biggest shifts for workers during the pandemic was the ability to work from home, which for many years was reserved for company’s senior leaders or top performers. Suddenly workers across all levels had the ability to work from home. Companies and employees realized remote work can be done and is effective. But what is the future of hybrid or remote work?
While many U.S. professionals have embraced hybrid work arrangements, our recent study found that a majority of companies anticipate a full return to the office once the pandemic ends. According to an August survey from our talent solutions firm, Robert Half, of more than 2,800 senior managers, 71 percent of employers said they will require their teams to be on-site full time once COVID-19-related restrictions completely lift. Far fewer (16 percent) will allow employees to follow a hybrid schedule, where they can divide time between the office and another location. Fewer still (12 percent) will give staff the complete freedom to choose where they work. In San Diego, 67 percent of employers said they would require workers to return to the office full-time once restrictions lift and only 16 percent said they would allow for hybrid schedules; 15 percent said they would let each employee decide.
What employers must know in today’s talent-driven market is that workers may walk if required to return to the office full-time. There’s a large disconnect between what managers prefer and what employees expect, and companies need to prioritize their people and look to the future. That being said, while our data shows employers expect to go back into the office, there are a good number of companies in San Diego that are offering long-term hybrid models, and they are the ones attracting the best talent. If companies want to attract the best, they need flexibility.
Employees have options in today’s tight job market, and there’s never been a better time to negotiate remote work capabilities.
Before negotiating for flexible work, make your current work-from-home schedule count as one that is effective and productive to the business. Communicate more from the remote environment you are in currently. Also be a tech champion. Learn as much as you can about data-sharing and collaboration apps. Ask for help with learning tech tools to ensure you are connected virtually as much as possible.
Here are some tips to best position you for these conversations with your manager.
Time it right. Depending on your situation, you might be able to wait for an upcoming performance review or a regular one-on-one with your boss to broach the subject. But if you can’t wait, schedule a specific time with your boss to discuss it.
Explain the benefits to the company using recent history. While there are many ways that a hybrid schedule will benefit you, it’s far more effective to explain how your hybrid schedule can benefit your employer. It can be even more persuasive if you use remote work statistics and how you’ve successfully helped the business grow while working remotely. Back up your explanations.
Be specific. Make your request as specific as possible. For example, if you say, “I want to work at home a few days a week,” your manager might think that one day a week is enough. Instead, give a specific schedule and explain why you chose those days and discuss how it will help the company and your productivity.
Prepare your talking points. This doesn’t have to be as formal as a slide deck, but it can be if you want. Jot down a few notes to help you remember what you want to say. Be clear about how your hybrid schedule will help your boss, the team and the company.
Practice in advance. Ask a trusted colleague or family member to listen to your plan and presentation. Seek honest feedback about your ideas. Are you specific enough? Are you backing up your request with data? Are you speaking with confidence?
Emphasize communication and accountability. Your ability to communicate and work effectively with your teammates will be vital to your success.
Offer a trial run. Your manager may be a bit reluctant to try out a hybrid work arrangement for various reasons. If you’re sensing any resistance, offer a trial run to test things out. Work with your manager to set up concrete and objective goals that can measure your productivity and performance.
Offering employees flexibility is a low-cost way to create a positive workplace culture and employee experience, which are central to recruiting and retaining top talent today.