A Creative Solution for Hybrid Work

Grodnitzky, Ph.D.
October 10, 2023

I’m baaaack! After I dedicated the last two months to updating our Generations Master Class, this is my first blog since July. I hope you enjoy it!

If you knew how to build a work environment for the future, would you build it now or wait? If you chose “build it now,” are you sure? Because you may not like what that entails. Over the past two months, the question I’ve received most often is: What will the future workforce look like?  

Here is the answer I’ve been providing, with the data.

Hybrid Work Is Here to Stay

The most significant trend in hybrid work is that it's here to stay. Many organizations embraced remote and flexible work arrangements during the pandemic, and employees appreciate the greater flexibility in where and how they work. As a result, we can expect that hybrid work models will continue to be a prominent feature of the future workplace.

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This graph illustrates that, over the past year, the percentage of people working full time at the office has not changed. The percentage working solely from home has decreased.  The percentage working a hybrid schedule has increased. 

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If you force your employees to return to the office full time, you risk losing more than 40% of your workforce.

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In this Time Magazine article, employers seem to be aware of the aforementioned data, so between Q1 and Q2 of 2023, they have been moving to a structured hybrid work schedule.

How Smucker Succeeds with Hybrid Work

The J.M. Smucker Co. recently made news because of its unique approach to structured hybrid work. While many other companies are trying to schedule two or three days per week in office, Smucker uses a “core weeks” model.

Under this model, employees come to the office for specific reasons — such as collaboration, relationships and working on difficult problems — during 22 core weeks per year (about two weeks per month). During core weeks, employees are expected to be in the office, typically about three days a week. This is not an absolute. For some employees, it’s more; for some employees, it’s less. Core weeks create blocks of time for teams to collaborate, build community and focus on projects that require a total company perspective.  

The model provides more flexibility than the core days (typically Tuesday-Thursday) model. With core weeks, employees don’t have to live in Orrville, Ohio, where Smucker’s HQ is located.  And Smucker can hire from all over the U.S. Employees who live outside of commuting distance  to HQ travel there during those core weeks, at their own cost. They stay at hotels, in apartments or with family. As a result, Smucker has been able to retain employees who have moved away and to recruit employees who live in other parts of the country. During core weeks, about 80% of Smucker employees are in the office. Most companies are still struggling to get 50% of their employees in the office consistently.

What About Employee Productivity?  

Smucker says the core weeks model communicates trust and inspires employees to go above and beyond for their colleagues and clients. The company tracks team-based performance vs. individual performance. Smucker reports that 80% of their brands are growing. Top- and bottom-line results continued to grow through and after the pandemic. Additionally, engagement surveys show that this model allows employees to stay connected to each other and to the culture at Smucker. Employees continue to be productive wherever they are working.

How much flexibility do your employees have? Are you measuring team or individual performance? What do you need to do to more fully engage your employees?

I’d love to hear your questions and comments. If you would like to discuss this topic further, just drop me a note.

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