Is Your Hybrid Model Actually Working? Use These Success Metrics to Find Out.

Is Your Hybrid Model Actually Working? Use These Success Metrics to Find Out.

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With 74% of U.S. companies transitioning to a permanent hybrid model, leaders are turning their attention to measuring the success of their hybrid work model. That’s because there’s a single traditional office-centric model of Monday to Friday, 9 to 5 in the office, but there are many ways to do hybrid work. Moreover, what works well for one company’s culture and working style may not work well elsewhere, even within the same industry. How can a leader determine if the model they have adopted is appropriate for their company’s needs?

The first step involves establishing clear success metrics. It is not common for companies to measure the important aspects of hybrid work. For example, a new report from Omdia suggests that 54% of organizations find that productivity improved from adopting a more hybrid working style, but only 22% of organizations established metrics to quantify productivity improvements from hybrid work.

Related: They Say Remote Work Is Bad For Employees, But Most Research Suggests Otherwise — A Behavioral Economist Explains.

Hybrid work is a strategic decision

From my experience helping 21 organizations transition to hybrid work, it’s important for the whole C-suite to be actively involved in formulating the metrics and for the board to approve them. Too often, busy executives have the natural instinct to just leave it up to HR and let them figure it all out. This is a mistake. A transition to a permanent hybrid work model requires attention and care at the highest levels of an organization. The C-suite won’t be able to coordinate and get on the same page about hybrid work success and will find themselves in a mess six month after the transition.

It’s a good practice for the C-suite, to establish the metrics at an offshore location where they can be removed from the daily hustle and make long-term strategic decisions. It’s important to establish baseline internal metrics before the offsite. This includes objective and quantitative measures. There are many external metrics for hybrid work. However, every company has its own culture, systems, processes, and talent.

Which success metrics matter in the hybrid work transition?

Based on the experience of my clients, companies focus on a variety of success metrics, each of which may be more or less important. To establish a baseline, each of these metrics must be measured before any permanent hybrid work policy can be established. Then, the metrics need to be evaluated every quarter, to evaluate the impact of refinements to the hybrid work policy.

Retention is a clear-to measure hard success metric. It can be both objective and quantitative. Recruitment is a related metric. It’s more difficult to measure and qualitative. External benchmarks clearly indicate that remote work is more effective in both retention and recruitment.

Thus, if the C-suite chooses to adopt a more flexible policy, I recommend my clients put it on their website’s “Join Us” page, as did one of my clients, the University of Southern California’s Information Sciences Institute. HR will notice an increase in inquiries from job candidates referencing this policy. They will also see potential hires showing enthusiasm about it during interviews. It is possible to measure that enthusiasm. Performance is a key metric that can be measured depending on the work being done. For instance, a study published in the National Bureau of Economic Review reported on a randomized control trial comparing the performance of software engineers assigned to a hybrid schedule vs. an office-centric schedule. Engineers who worked in a hybrid schedule wrote 8% more code over a six month period. If there is no option to have such clear performance measurement, use regular weekly assessments of performance from supervisors.

Collaboration and innovation are critical metrics for effective team performance, but measuring them isn’t easy. They can only be evaluated by team leaders and members who have performed qualitative assessments. Moreover, by training teams in effective hybrid innovation and collaboration techniques, you can improve these metrics. There are many metrics that are difficult to measure for a company’s culture or talent management. These include morale, engagement and well-being, motivation, happiness, burnout and intent to quit. Getting at these metrics requires the use of more qualitative and subjective approaches, such as customized surveys specifically adapted to hybrid and remote work policies. It’s a good idea to ask respondents to participate in focus groups on these topics as part of the survey. Focus groups allow you to dig deeper into the survey questions to understand people’s motivations and feelings.

One way to measure the wellbeing and burnout of your employees involves a hard metric: employees taking sick days. By measuring how that changes over time — seasonally adjusted — you can evaluate the impact of your policies on employee mental and physical health.

Related: You Should Let Your Team Decide Their Approach to Hybrid Work. A Behavioral economist explains why and how you should do it.

Diversity, equity and inclusion represent an often overlooked but critically important metric impacted by hybrid work. We know that underrepresented groups strongly prefer more remote work. My clients who decided to work mainly in an office environment had to invest significant resources to increase their DEI to offset the loss of talent.

To measure DEI, it is simple and objective. As the hybrid work strategy is implemented, you will need to look at the retention and leadership of the underrepresented rank-and file staff. Make sure your surveys allow staff to identify relevant demographic categories to help you measure DEI in relation to engagement, morale and so forth. Last but not least, my clients also think about professional and leadership development, onboarding, and integration of junior staff members. A Conference Board survey finds 58% of employees would leave without adequate professional development, and that applies even more so to underrepresented groups. Leadership development is critical to the long-term continuity of any company. For any company to succeed, it is essential to onboard and integrate junior staff. Many companies have difficulty figuring out how to do this in a hybrid environment.

Measuring professional development is best done through more subjective tools, such as surveys and focus groups. It is possible to assess the progress of staff in areas where they have received professional development, and to compare in-person learning with remote learning. Evaluation of leadership development is more straightforward and objective. Assess how well your newly-promoted leaders succeed based on performance evaluations and 360-degree reviews. Onboarding and integrating new staff requires performance evaluations by supervisors as well as measurements of their productivity.

Conclusion

Once you have the baseline data from these diverse metrics, at the offsite the C-suite needs to determine which metrics matter most to your organization. You can choose the top three to five metrics and then weigh their importance in relation to each other. Using these metrics, the C-suite can then decide on a course of action on hybrid work that would best optimize for their desired outcomes. Next, create a plan of action for implementing this policy. Use appropriate metrics to measure success. If you find that your metrics aren’t as good, you can revise the policy to see how it affects your metrics. You might also consider running experiments to test different versions of the hybrid policy. You could have one day per week in one office and two days in another. This will help you to see how it affects your metrics. For the first three months, you should revise and reevaluate your approach once per month. Then, once per quarter thereafter. My clients found that this approach helped them achieve the best results in reaching the metrics they had set for their permanent hybrid model.

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