The work landscape is changing dramatically and hybrid working is here to stay. This sets the stage for employees to expect a new range of benefits to support their work, and you can seek out an employer who offers more, or you can demand more from your current organization. Since everything in life has changed, from how you shop to how you get together with friends and family, the value you get from your work should also change.
You could say that hybrid working in itself is a benefit, but more than a benefit, it becomes table stakes for employers to attract and retain workers – something that will shape people’s decisions about whether whether they should join, stay, leave or hire. In fact, new research from McKinsey found that among those who took on new jobs, the top reason they joined an organization was for workplace flexibility.
In this new hybrid world of work, companies must therefore think in new and creative ways about the advantages, benefits and resources they will provide to workers. These are things that you can demand with new fervor and that organizations will increasingly need to deliver.
Benefits for working hours
When evaluating the right hybrid experience, consider the benefits associated with the job itself. Businesses are increasingly focused on wellness and looking to relieve the pressure that can come from days filled with back-to-back meetings, video calls and endless tasks.
Suggest your company experiment with shorter meetings of 50 minutes each so people can breathe between sessions. Or look for organizations that offer the ability to take Fridays off once a month, or work half days on Fridays, or have company-wide no-meeting Fridays. Each of them has the advantage of giving people more space to pause and do in-depth work without the constant scramble of meetings. And they have the added benefit that if the model is shared company-wide, you’re not the only person taking a Friday off.
Flexible working hours are another useful option – the ability to start later if you have to take the kids to school, or to retire early for HIIT class and resume in the evening. Companies are also increasingly offering sabbaticals (paid or unpaid), unlimited vacations, or self-care days where people can choose to take a day off if they really need some extra respite, so look for these types of options or recommend them.
Benefits for the office
Another consideration is the perks companies provide within the office. Many organizations are realizing that people don’t want to go back to seas of gray boards with labyrinthine work environments. Smart companies value the journey by creating places you want to return to in the first place. Social hubs, great work cafes where people can get food (free and healthy) and work side-by-side with the community are examples. You can also recommend your company to offer them.
Additionally, companies are realizing that people need better places to collaborate and socialize, but also places of privacy, especially for employees who don’t have an ideal setting at home for distraction-free work. . The ability to close a door, even if you’re not a senior manager, can really be an advantage, and you can ask for it when organizations are looking to modernize their offices. Employers also offer rejuvenation spots, providing nap pods and adding natural elements to the space.
Process is also important here. The best companies offer support to employees discovering new ways of working, by sponsoring team discussions where colleagues talk about their new norms of collaboration and individual work. Nobody wants to come into the office to make video calls all day. One benefit you can therefore demand is to have the direction, support, and practices that guide new collaborative processes.
Look for companies that offer stipends to equip home offices with desks, ergonomic chairs, better lighting, or improved technology. Or recommend your organization get creative with transportation to and from work, whether that’s on a Wi-Fi shuttle or offering allowances for parking costs. For example, Google offers subscriptions to scooter services to take employees to the nearest office or bus stop. Employers realize that the workplace extends beyond the office – and they invest in the whole experience – something you can also ask your employer.
Benefits for your life
Work is part of a full life, and research shows that when people are happier in their life outside of work, they tend to be happier at work too. Smart companies recognize employees as whole persons and expand the role of the company by ensuring fulfillment in all aspects of employees’ lives. It is therefore a key criterion that you can take into account when evaluating your organization or a possible new one.
Look for companies that offer resources for teaching and tutoring when parents have children learning at home or catching up in school depending on how far behind they may have fallen. Also look for companies that offer child care allowances and applications for elder care or emergency child care. Many companies also offer pet care options, pet insurance, or opportunities to bring pets to work, recognizing how much furry friends are part of the family.
Wellness benefits have expanded and you can search for an organization or recommend your current organization to provide apps that support meditation, sleep, healthy eating, exercise, mental health therapy in online and telehealth. Or suggest your organization offers stipends for exercise equipment or classes. Education is also part of this, with organizations offering mindfulness training or financial skills training.
More important than the benefits themselves is that companies value employees more holistically and incorporate wellbeing as part of the experience they create, so look for organizations that demonstrate that they appreciate as a whole person.
Benefits for the community
Another set of benefits that you can increasingly demand is about building a community. Employers recognize that working remotely can present challenges for employees to connect and feel part of it. Some offer perks like employee resource groups or membership groups for everyone from caregivers and runners to knitters or motorcycle enthusiasts.
You can also look for companies that are embracing apps like those that help people find friends and build new relationships with co-workers. Or ask your organization to host events in the office like pet shelter adoption events, barbecues or corporate activity fairs, or events outside of work like volunteer days or meetings.
Also consider the culture
Overall, organizations offer a range of work options. The majority are moving to a three-two model where they expect people to be in the office three days and they will offer employees the flexibility to work wherever they want the other two days of the week. In fact, a new study from Stanford found that hybrid working options reduced employee quit rates by 35% — so you can talk to your employer about this if they’re not already offering this approach.
But a word of caution: when choosing a business (or recommitting to a business), make sure that hybrid options for where and when you work come with a culture in which you have real choice and real autonomy. If the company offers hybrid work, but you still feel like you have to come in every day to gain respect or advance your career, the culture hasn’t really aligned to a hybrid model. Or if leaders don’t have the skills to engage remote teams (and there’s no development to get them there), culture might not be the best option.
Look for cultures that offer strong direction balanced with opportunity to participate and influence, and cultures that offer clear accountability and policies balanced with adaptability and responsiveness. Look for cultures that manage by performance, rather than just presence, and that emphasize accountability as well as recognition and celebration. Also look for cultures where you feel fit and motivated to share common goals. These will be the hybrid work experiences that will serve you best and keep you motivated to engage wherever you work.
While the media may introduce a false contradiction – setting up a debate over whether working from home or working in the office is better – in truth, the hybrid is one proposition at a time. When it works, the hybrid is the best of both worlds.
Ideally, the hybrid allows working from anywhere with plenty of choice and flexibility for employees. But it should also provide a strong center of gravity of an organization – a culture you want to be part of with interesting work and supportive colleagues.
A new day
If the past two years have taught us anything, it’s the importance of work experience. It’s a new day, and you can demand more from your current business or a new business as it seeks to attract, retain, and engage you.
Prioritize what’s most important to you and demand more of your employer, or appreciate the extra perks they already offer. It’s a new day to enjoy work and thrive in all things work and life – and expanded employer benefits, incentives and perks are a great place to start.