CUT THROUGH THE NOISE ABOUT HYBRID
MillerKnoll's research with Future Forum and conversations with industry experts are helping us cut through the noise about hybrid work and think more strategically about supporting flexibility.
"The word hybrid keeps us stuck in the 'where'," said Cali Williams Yost, the founder of Flex Strategy Group and a recent guest on a MillerKnoll Looking Forward podcast episode that dug into the business case for flexible work.
Hybrid not only can mean different things to different people.
It can also lead to confusion and ambiguity within an organization. "It's like the term collaboration from a few years ago," said Joseph White, Director of Design Strategy of MillerKnoll. "It's this huge overarching term that points to a tremendous amount of variety."
We have found that using the term flexibility may be a better approach. According to White, “flexibility” more accurately reflects what people expect from their work experience and what they’re looking for going forward.
People want flexibility.
MillerKnoll's research with Future Forum shows that 80 percent of global desk-based workers say they want location flexibility (where they work). In comparison, 94 percent of those employees say they want schedule flexibility (when they work). They want to come to the office for activities like collaborating with coworkers and clients, attending in-person meetings, and building camaraderie and for younger people and new hires, being in the office is highly beneficial for mentoring and development opportunities.
"By focusing on flexibility, you can take a more strategic approach to work and the workplace that includes broader support for employee autonomy over not just where, but when, and what kind of work gets done."
Tailor your flexibility strategy to the work experience you want to support.
- Flexibility in place design. Support the experiences that are often more difficult to support at home. By diversifying the types of spaces found within the office and incorporating furniture solutions that are inherently flexible themselves, you can reframe your entire approach to the workplace. This flexibility is essential for allowing organizations to respond to an uncertain economic landscape, provide a sustainable plan for change, and support the essential work experiences that people are seeking today.
- Flexibility in the technology that's used. An intentional approach to flexibility also allows people to adopt the technology that most effectively supports their preferred working location and schedules and their desired level of collaboration.
- Flexibility in how people adopt new norms. While aligning places and technology to support the work your people are doing is an important starting point, it's only the first step of a successful flexibility strategy. You have to think through the guardrails based on the work that you want to get done. Not just the tasks of the job but the culture you want and all of those broader strategic objectives you will want to achieve.
- Prototyping the future of flexible work. Implementing a flexibility strategy right now is an opportunity to reimagine how your organization works, but it can be challenging to decide where to start. Consider testing a few ideas out. Pilots are a model of discovery that explore and tests new activities in the workplace ecosystem.