Pivot: The Musical Chairs Game of Remote, Hybrid, and In-Office Workforces

We are approaching three years since we collectively took a left turn into the remote workforce.  The landscape of the workforce has changed dramatically with the Great Resignation, and now a recession on the horizon.  As we continue to weigh what the future holds, one thing that must remain constant; flexibility. 

One Size Does Not Fit All

As we sit back and look at our businesses – what is working for YOU?  There is no one size fits all approach to deciding on workforce locations.  For some companies, it’s necessary to be on site, for others, the office is a thing of the past. Ask yourself, what do we truly NEED? If the thought of “well, this is the way we have always done it” comes to mind, chuck it at the door. Continuing down the path of this old antiquated thinking likely won’t win you any friends or support your employees the way they want to be supported. Many companies found themselves struggling to articulate their reasoning for returning to the office, and in turn, alienated their employees.  If you aren’t able to be transparent about your “why” of returning to the office on a full or hybrid basis, then why are you actually doing it? 

Get Creative

Early in my career, I heard a story of an executive vice president needing a flexible work arrangement to support picking his kids up from school.  It was the early 2000s and this was virtually unheard of at the time, but the company supported him. For over a year, he was able to leave work at 3pm and log back in from home once the kids were settled around 4pm. Why would the company do this? It’s easy; they supported a highly successful employee in a creative way that he needed. In turn, his loyalty to the company was solidified, and ultimately, this mutual trust and respect led to him becoming CEO several years later. 

Imagine that we took this approach to every employee. How can you get creative to help support them? If you are traditionally an 8 hour in the office and on-location setup, how could you change that to support a work-life balance for your employees? Ask them! Maybe they would prefer a 4 X 10 hour approach. Perhaps, if your company allows; movable shifts or rotating days off. The possibilities are infinite for what can work for you. For roles where more flexibility can be managed (i.e. hybrid or fully remote positions), what is stopping you from allowing your employees to choose where they best work? Companies such as Slack, Upwork, Spotify, Pinterest, and LinkedIn successfully support a remote first, hybrid option for their employees. Allowing the employee to choose and know what works best for them immediately builds trust between the organization and the employee.  

Flexibility is key

Just as Henry Ford’s assembly line and the COVID-19 pandemic taught us, things change rapidly.  What worked on March 1st, 2020 no longer worked one month later. The continual theme of the past three years has been flexibility. Organizations often get stuck in decision paralysis; by the time they make changes, it’s too late. Pilot programs are often a great way to test things before they become final, or to get feedback from employees on what may and may not work. Organizations need to be willing to move fast and make mistakes. Failing forward and learning from your mistakes is one of the things that leaders often assert to their employees as part of their growth process, so why wouldn’t we take on that same mantra organizationally? Collectively failing forward and learning together is something an organization can be proud of.   

Here at Emtrain, we are continually honing our strategy. We embrace the remote first/hybrid model for our employees, partnered with a four day workweek. We’ve been piloting the four day workweek for over a year, with minimal changes to the program.  We continue to assess it on a quarterly basis with feedback from our employees to make sure we are hearing what may need to change.  

You can assess your strategy every three months or six months.  If something isn’t working exactly the way you want it to, you can make a small change and branch off of your original strategy.  If you need a wholesale change, you can, in the words of the eternally wise character Ross Gellar from Friends; Pivot! 


hybrid workmental healthremote workWorkplace Culture
Kristen Davis
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