3 Challenges of Hybrid Working and How to Overcome Them
According to a Gallup study, 53% of Americans expect to work in a hybrid arrangement in 2022 and beyond. This number is significant enough for corporate America to get hybrid working right today. Unfortunately, early indicators show we are on the wrong path. Here are the biggest challenges of hybrid working for organizations. And how you can overcome them.
Today’s executive guidance feels like someone threw spaghetti at the wall. Multiple arbitrary “policies” like “6 in-office days per month,” ” 1 day a week in the office,” “3 days on campus per week minimum,” confuse and frustrate employees.
These approaches feel like HR started writing hybrid working policies and stopped at the first sentence. Organizations have shifted the responsibility of managing employees to the employees themselves. Without guidance. I can hear executives telling HR: “They will figure it out.” When organizations abdicate managerial responsibilities like this, employees make the trip to the office, only to meet another computer screen and endless Zoom calls. New hires start without ever meeting anyone in person. They stare at black boxes on Zoom because no one turns on their cameras. And a generational divide separates Baby Boomers who prefer in-person from younger employees who prefer remote.
To overcome these challenges, get leaders back into the boardroom. Revisit the organization’s mission, vision, and values, and infuse them into the brand’s culture. With the anchor of mission, vision, and values, leaders can engage in a return to office project that redesigns HOW to work. And re-aligns that work with the organization’s cultural beliefs.
Organizations require comprehensive hybrid work policies that have schedules at the division levels, rules for travel, and directives for leaders to organize regular, in-person social events.
In other words, the hybrid work policy needs to communicate expectations (and the reasons for those expectations) to all employees. Will some employees dislike this? Absolutely! That is inevitable.
However, what will help leaders swallow this bitter pill is understanding that employees will leave your organization, regardless. The difference is, they will leave because they are disengaged and disconnected from the organization. Or because they are not a culture fit. The latter does not lead you anywhere. The former helps set your North Star into the next decade. And that North Star ensures your organization’s vitality.
Insufficient Investment in Hybrid Work Infrastructure
The biggest challenge of hybrid working is that 2022 strategic plans and budgets took hybrid as a cost saving. Organizations celebrated lower real estate costs, and skipped the necessary investments in additional corporate events, T&E, collaboration technology, and office space redesign. These are all the necessary things that offset the loss of human connection that comes with the loss of shared workspace. That loss is a game-changer, and it has to be recovered.
During the Cold War, MIT professor Thomas Allan researched why some US engineering projects were more successful than others. He found teams with members who had the least distance between their desks were the most successful. As Allen said, “if you can see the other person or even the area where they work, you’re reminded of them, and that brings a whole bunch of effects.” Today, leaders are not accounting for the negative impact of the disappearance of these effects. Nor are they properly designing and investing in solutions. We have encountered this with clients who point to budgetary constraints when we recommend leadership summits, in-person All Hands meetings, and virtual engagement activities.
When executives talk about hybrid, they only look at the real estate cost savings side of the coin. What they fail to see are the necessary investments to offset the disappearance of the pre-covid social environment that built strong employee relationships (the relationships that fuel productivity and employee retention). Organizations need an infrastructure to enable employees to do what they used to do: to form relationships, collaborate, grow within the organization, and feel like they are part of something and their role matters. Putting them on Zoom is not enough.
In order to build and maintain high performing teams in a hybrid working environment, double down your investments in:
1) Travel Budgets
Double your travel budget. At least. Bring people together quarterly. Or re-think your leaders’ responsibility to include additional travel. Get them out making deep, in-person connections across your distributed office regularly.
2) New Positions
Open new positions for doers in HR. They are the Event Planners in our new working world. Call them Culture Ambassadors, or Hybrid Experience Engineers. And give them meaningful budgets to program manage regular in-person career chats, volunteering offsites, and all day All Hands offsites with guest speakers. Empower them to facilitate connections across your organization. Do not hire another Senior Executive to create your company’s strategy and execution plan for remote work. Trust an existing executive to do that. This is not the hard part. Save that $300K, and invest in a leadership offsite with style and impact.
3) Training Budget
Increase your training budget significantly. Invest in new onboarding and training programs that empower your new and veteran employees. Stop thinking about training the old, pre-remote work way.
Instead, reframe your training to enable employees. And triple the budget. These are bold asks to compensate for big losses. Think about it. Those real estate cost savings mark the robbery of the space where employees connected and shared knowledge with each other. Re-invest real estate savings into building a human connections engine for your employees in the hybrid environment. This is the path to effective teams.
Another sad realization about the current state of corporate affairs, is the lack of awareness and empathy for the current state of employee connection. People are isolated in their homes. They lack context about the companies they work for, and their roles within them.
So, now is the time to invest in an analyst to publish an internal newsletter. Or a developer to stand up your intranet. Reach back to your own experiences. Remember all the key people we learned about, just by being trained on our first day of work? Our colleagues told us stories. They dropped a name, and, in passing, explained what that person did, who s/he worked for, and whether they liked him/her.
Think about those organic, impromptu chats by the water cooler, or in the restroom.
Now, understand what happens when all this context disappears. In the current hybrid working environment, you are left with an Outlook email system and a barely maintained org chart from an archived presentation.
How productive would you feel if you could not even send an email to the right recipients? How safe, confident, or content would you feel if you had no clue how you relate to the organization you just joined?
To combat this, open communications projects. Share information with higher frequency than ever. In meaningful ways, repeat messaging about everything that makes your company culture: values, rituals, heroes, etc. And use that communication to orient and empower your employees.
In 2022, organizations lost many communications mediums we once relied on. Consider all the passive forms of communication we had pre-hybrid. Office design, nonverbal actions of leaders (JetBlue’s CEO Dave Barger knew all our names and used to high-five us in the elevators and hallways). To compensate for these losses, invest in a communications team. That team will build a communications strategy; design a multi-channel communications plan; and communicate, communicate, communicate.
Overcome Hybrid Challenges with the Right Onboarding, Training, and Budgets
It seems we are back again with our friendly reminder that the old ways are not working. Until leadership changes the way they do things, organizations will continue to lose talent, productivity, and resources.
Positive change happens when we rethink training; implement relevant, supportive onboarding programs; and engage in the budgeting and re-orging that successful hybrid work requires.
The Moment of Arrival
How to start? Develop an Onboarding Program. And design formal onboarding experiences. To be clear, onboarding is NOT remote training. Nor is it shipping out a company swag bag. It must be done in person. Of course, this brings us back to the critically important travel and events budgets and policies.
In his book, The Culture Code, Daniel Coyle coins the term “the moment of arrival.” This refers to the experience when a new employee joins a company. It is a pity this special moment remains underfunded.
JetBlue Airways still has an expensive, comprehensive onboarding program. It includes flying new employees to “the LODGE,” a campus-like hotel in Orlando. The funding of $32MM was an historical investment in employee experience. And it created some of the strongest colleague relationships I have ever witnessed.
However, this is only possible if an organization dedicates a culture budget and a team to spend it appropriately. Too often, we meet new hires who have been with an organization for nearly a year. They have never met their leader in person.
Leaders, we must do better. Surely, if JetBlue could find 32MM, you can find one.
How to Prepare for AI: Dispatches from CR Summit, Charleston
On the eve of the #CRSummit in Charleston, customer experience leaders from various industries held the first AI Committee meeting. AI is a challenging topic to cover because it has…
Why Bt2B Businesses Must Think Like B2C in the Next Decade
B2B vs B2B thinking makes a real difference when it comes to customer experience. According to Gartner at least 80% of B2B buyers now expect the same buying experience as…
Hospitality Experience and Why We lack Seamless Travel Experiences
Hospitality is taken for granted across government agencies, airlines and hotels. In my line of work, I often hear “I want to have the JetBlue customer experience.” Although many claim…
How To Define Your Purpose And Have Unique Culture
If you Google the word “purpose” you get the definition “the reason for which something exists.” This is a challenge if you think about it in the context of organizational…
What is the best question for your CX Survey?
As customer experience professionals, we need to factor in this disconnect when we design surveys. And when we react to survey results. Customers have an image of who they want to be. However, their behaviors do not always reflect that image.
Travel Experience Stories: How Not to Leave Customers Stranded
Meet Diane. Diane is traveling with her 2 year old and 5 year old to her in-laws’ house for Thanksgiving. This is the one annual trip she takes. And she…
How to talk to your CFO about customer experience and revenue growth
Last month we introduced the topic of Customer Experience ROI and the complexity of building a good business case for it. The Customer Experience business case is strong, but not easy to prove. Today we will focus on two big wins of a successful customer experience investment – revenue and customer growth of your business.
Customer Experience Tips and Best Practices In 2017?
This is Post 2 of Liliana Petrova’s series on customer experience. She shares customer experience tips, lessons learned, and best practices for the new year. And dives into organizational culture…
4 Career Tips to obtain a Customer Experience Role
In honor of the 4th of July, we are rounding up 4 career tips for CX professionals. Set aside some time during the break from work to take stock in your CX career and evaluate the steps you need to get to the next level.
Would You Pitch In To Save Toys “R” Us For Your Children To Experience? #ToysRUsGoFundMe
Last week we laid out the big moves that the leadership of Toys ‘R’ Us failed to take to evolve with customer needs and thus joins other brands as examples of…
Hiring Tips: Who Should I Hire First on My CX Team
The pressure to demonstrate business impact and ROI on your Customer Experience initiatives quickly makes your first hire even more important. As usual, there is no answer that fits all scenarios perfectly. We have some helpful strategies to consider based on the structure of your organization and your goals.
5 Tips to Create Great Customer Experience Design Strategy
A customer experience design strategy that is sustainable and successful starts by having a vision and knowing who your customer is. This launching point enables you to design customer experiences…
What Can Casino Consulting Firms Learn from Airlines?
Today we’re talking about casino experience. Casinos and airlines are similar in their operational complexity and sense of wonder. They also are similar in the way they can implement technology…
Patient Experience Trends in 2021 – Telehealth is Here to Stay
Today, we continue our series about 2021 Customer Experience trends and tactics. We take a closer look at patient experience and what telehealth means for the future. Both for patients…
Customer Experience, Self Service, and the Gift of Time
Time is the most precious gift in life. If you think about it, time is the one thing we all want more of. As we get older and busier, time gets even more valuable to us.
Do You Know Why The Iconic Brand Toys ‘R’ Us Closed Doors Despite All Our Memories? #RetailBlues
The year is 2016. You are the CEO of Toys ‘R’ Us. Your brand still controls 13.6% of the toy market although the company is highly leveraged, a strategy of…
Liliana Petrova Talks Patient Experience in Healthcare Podcast
Recently, we recorded a podcast on patient experience in healthcare with Stacey Richter. Today, we are excited to share it with you. On the episode, we discuss travel and healthcare…
Get Customer Experience Basics Right and You Don’t Need to Invest in Wow Moments
Wow Moments are a Customer Experience hot topic. Customer experience professionals ideate how to build, prioritize, finance, and measure these Wow Moments. Chip and Dan Heath wrote a whole book on the topic: The Power of Moments. No Wow Moment saves you from negative word of mouth if your brand fails to get the customer experience basics right or to deliver the expected brand experience consistently.
Customer Experience Audit: Starbucks Bets On The Physical Experience
Starbucks is opting in for the physical experience in order to become a lifestyle brand while other brands are investing in omni-channel experience.
Customer Experience Audit: Uber Bets On Self-Driving Cars With Big Volvo Purchase
The question that remains unanswered is who will be part of the future of transportation. Uber is going for the vertical integration – the whole pie. The future industry of urban transportation will be made of players in three different categories: cars, self-driving software, and ride-sharing network. In contrast, Lyft approaches the future through partnerships.
Create Your Tribe: How Great CX Makes a Lifestyle Brand
Newcomers to the market realize that their business is only as strong as the growth of their customer base. With that in mind, senior leaders work hard to shorten the distance between them and the customer.
Paperless Customer Journey – JetBlue Deviceless Boarding
JetBlue Biometrics – Innovation and Disruption This year, JetBlue entered the ranks of the innovators who disrupt industries by applying customer experience technology. They not only imagine the future. They…
The Great Re-onboading: How to Bring Back Your Employees
Re-onboarding is the next employee experience organizations need to tackle. Since March 2020, leaders have encountered pandemic shutdowns, remote workforce transitions, and the Great Resignation. As restrictions lift and we…
What is Telemedicine? Keeping Medicine at the Heart
Guest Post by Dr. Melynda Barnes for The Petrova Experience. In this post Dr. Barnes answers the question “what is telemedicine,” and reminds us to keep medicine at the heart…
Healthcare Whitepaper: Impact of Patient ‘I Wants’ in Healthcare
Rachel Dreyfus joins The Petrova Experience with a guest blog about patient experience. Background A culture of positive patient experience is increasingly important in Healthcare, affecting patient outcomes and satisfaction….
Culture Starts at the Top
Without a leader who believes that today’s business success is about acquiring and retaining customers, you cannot even begin the process of building a culture. Leaders who are passionate about the customer are also passionate about creating culture and employee engagement.
Human Experience: Do You Really Know Your Customers?
Steve Jobs said: “Get closer than ever to your customers. So close that you tell them what they need before they realize it themselves.” He did not just say that….
Digital Customer Experience Strategy – Top Three Mistakes
How many of you have interacted with financial and insurance institutions who seem to have forgotten the invention of the world wide web and applications design? In 2021, Major players…
Coronavirus Travel: What Does Hospitality Mean Now?
I want to tell you about my recent passenger experience. Earlier this week, I traveled to New Orleans from JFK Terminal 5 in New York. I had planned an airport…
Poor Integration is Bad for Customer Journey and Worse for Brands
Although we all have bad customer experiences, there is still a big debate about “the CX field” and whether it will survive the test of time. There is no doubt…
Let’s Get You Certified as a Customer Experience Professional!
Like all mature professions, customer experience has a certification that is internationally recognized. Adding it to your resume will signal to the business community that you are serious about customer experience and your aspiration to be part of its leadership ranks…
What is Customer Experience? What are the Faces of CX?
Each area of CX represents a path for CX professionals to impact business health and build successful careers. One of my favorite CX analogies is that it is like the blood in our bodies. When CX is done well, it touches every aspect of an organization. That’s what makes customer experience so much fun! You will never be bored working in CX.
Customer Experience Trends – 8 Actionable Tactics in 2021
As we begin Q4 of an eventful 2020, it’s time to look out for the 2021 customer experience trends and tactics for creating exceptional experiences in increasingly complex environments. We…
Customer Experience Design – How Do You Want Customers To Feel?
Last week, we talked about CX Design in terms of space and function. Today, we continue our customer experience design journey to talk about the design of emotions and feelings. All…
Why you need a defined culture for customer experience?
When designed and built correctly, customer experience expresses an organization’s brand. Your brand and marketing promises serve as a guiding light to your experience team. Similarly, organizational culture serves as a goalpost for the service side of customer experience.
Aviation Industry, Coronavirus Isn’t the Only Thing Killing Us
Eighteen years ago, September 11th caused a three-day halt of the US commercial airlines and resulted in a 31.6% reduction in travel in September 2001 compared to the previous year….
Customer Facing Experience: Communication and Hospitality
Today, we are talking about communication as part of the customer facing experience. This is one of the most misused and misinterpreted notions both in our professional lives and our…
Airport Experience – Are You Letting Down Your Precious 2021 Travelers?
A month and a half ago, as part of our ongoing conversation about airport experience, we introduced the concept of revenge travel. We pleaded with the public to trust us…
Organizational Culture and Access to Information
By and large, people perceive culture as an HR discipline. The most common perception is that culture covers the soft side of performance. Culture is about how you do things, not so much about what you do. This approach to culture could not be more wrong. In fact, organizational culture is about so much more than a few words in a performance review sheet. It is about leaders expressing values, and the action guidance their cultural behaviors provide.
Leadership During the Pandemic: Guest Post by Rachel Dreyfus
This is a guest post by Rachel Dreyfus, President, Dreyfus Advisors, who researched leadership and organizational culture during the pandemic. How has Covid19 influenced leadership over the past three months?…
How a Personal Interaction builds Repeat Customers
A customer-centric methodology is key to the successful outcome of my interaction with Hello Spud. It is the reason this story appears here, and not among the CX Big Fails! The company did not send an automated response. It did not deliver a message stating “sorry we couldn’t help you, would you like something else.” Instead, the company co-founder reached out to me personally across multiple channels (a handwritten note, followed by personal emails).
Customer Experience Audit: FedEx Omnichannel Disaster
In our Strategy, Org Design & Culture series, we cover customer-focused companies that are willing to adapt, take risks and discover new ways of staying relevant. Sometimes, we encounter brands…