Taking control: can hybrid work without autonomy?

Our latest WORKTECH Wednesday briefing looks at new research that strengthens the case for flexible hybrid workplace strategies and the latest guidance to help the decarbonisation of buildings

While hybrid working has consistently proved to be the clear preferred model for working, many organisations are struggling to hand over autonomy and control to their employees to plan their own work schedules. Apple, for example, announced its hybrid strategy in which employees are required to be in the office every Tuesday and Thursday and one other day of their choice.

New research suggests that hybrid, without flexibility and autonomy, can still put employee retention at risk. The research conducted by Future Forum, a research-based consortium launched by Slack, with founding partners MillerKnoll, Boston Consulting Group and MLT, surveyed more than 10,000 knowledge workers globally in the US, Australia, France, Germany, Japan, and the UK.

The survey data found that 80 per cent of employees want flexibility in where they can work and 94 per cent want more flexibility in when they work. This demonstrates the demand for more flexibility among employees who seek more autonomy over their work processes than ever before.

‘Employees are seeking more autonomy over their work processes than ever before…’

While some hybrid strategies allow employees a degree of control, the survey data indicates that lack of schedule flexibility can dramatically impact overall employee experience scores. Compared to those with moderate schedule flexibility, knowledge workers who say they have little to no ability to set their own hours report having 3.4 times worse work-related stress and anxiety and 2.2 times worse work-life balance. Employees with rigid work schedules also say they are three times more likely to ‘definitely’ look for a new job in the next year.

So, is the answer to give carte blanche to employees over their work schedules?

While this approach may work in some organisations, many companies are still concerned about fostering culture and collaboration in the office. For those companies struggling to hand over complete autonomy of work schedules, the research suggests that transparent and open communication between employees and employers could help to increase scores for employee experience and engagement.

Bridging the sustainability gap

Until recently, greenhouse gas emissions have only focused on energy consumption in buildings. This approach has limited organisation’s responsibility to report on the carbon output of their building portfolio.

Now, new guidance will enable those who run and manage services in buildings to measure and reduce emissions both directly and across their supply chains in order to help them meet carbon reduction targets.

Issued by the Sustainable Facilities Management Index (SFMI), with the support of facilities management business BAM FM, the new guidance aims to upskill those in the facilities management sector to measure ‘Scope 3’ emissions and identify responsibilities for reporting these emissions. It also explains how to capture and reduce emissions in line with the COP26 target to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Enabling sustainable work

Hybrid working can be a critical tool to enable a sustainable work life, according to Louise Dyrendahl of EY Consulting. Speaking at the upcoming WORKTECH22 Wellbeing conference on Tuesday 20th September, Dyrendahl will explain that sustainable work life is about enabling working and living conditions that support people in engaging and performing throughout an extended working life. She will also present recent global EY research which shows a shift in power towards the employee, who currently favour hybrid working models but do not necessarily feel that they have access to hybrid.

Book your place at WORKTECH Wellbeing here.

In our WORKTECH Wednesday Briefings, we reach out to our 10,000-plus Academy members, WORKTECH attendees, speakers, partners and sponsors while WORKTECH’s professional conference series continues through our in-person, virtual and hybrid platforms. This edition is posted 31 August 2022.
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