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CEO Corner: The Hybrid Dilemma

Alice Ayres
Published:  06/22/2021

Empty conference roomPhoto by Benjamin Child on Unsplash

It feels like every conversation with members I have lately, turns quickly to the question of what is ahead and where we will all work. For some, the hospital or health system has eliminated space by either downsizing or eliminating onsite space for philanthropy teams. For others the space remains but some team members have become accustomed to working from home and many have found that they are at least as productive, if not more so when they do. Only a very few seem to be predicting a full return to the office by the full team.

The business press is awash in articles about this, and high profile for-profit players (like Amazon, Google and Twitter) have put a stake in the ground as to their own policies.  The rest of us are left to weigh the pros and cons of each arrangement for culture, engagement, production, recruitment, and retention.  

Several studies have been done on employee preferences (one of the most thorough by the Pew Research Center), and “hybrid” – where each employee spends some time working from the office and some time working from home, or where some employees are permanently working from home while others come to the office at least sometimes – seems to be a clear preference. In fact SHRM did a study that showed that 52% of those surveyed would prefer to work from home permanently.

Allowing this more flexible work arrangement appears to be good for recruiting and retention as well. A Morning Consult study showed that 59% were more likely to apply for a job if the employer had flexible work arrangements. And in a FlexJobs survey, 81% reported that they would be more loyal to their employer if they had flexible work arrangements, while 39% said that they would look for a new job if their employer did not allow flexible work arrangements moving forward.

In a moment that many are calling “The Summer of Resignation” with record resignations across all industries but with healthcare and tech driving the trend, how we all handle this next phase of “normal” is going to have dramatic impact on our teams and our workplaces.  

That said, there are very valid concerns and challenges to this new hybrid model.  Questions like how to maintain a cohesive team culture or foster connection to the mission come up frequently. So too does the question of how to stay relevant among clinicians and other colleagues who are in the hospital daily when we do not have a physical presence.  While the truth is that we will all be part of this great experiment and we will all learn together, here are a couple of thoughts:

  • There is a difference between a team culture and an office culture.  Perhaps in a fully remote or hybrid environment, discussions about team culture can center around shared values and how the team interacts with one another while discussions about office culture can focus on the benefits of the new home office.
  • We all still want to be connected, so finding ways to touch base informally in a virtual or hybrid environment are critical. Send a text, make a call, hand write and send a note to show team members you are thinking about them.  Schedule more regular check-ins (for shorter amounts of time) to make sure you are connecting frequently.
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate.  Especially as we enter the hybrid environment, be sure to communicate to everyone frequently. Consider hosting all-virtual team updates (even for those in the office) so the experience is the same for everyone. Think about using video and email to make sure everyone knows what is going on across all areas of the team.

I hope you will share your ideas and what is working and not as we all enter this next new normal together. Learning from one another’s wins and mistakes is a great way to accelerate our collective learning, and is what makes the AHP network so powerful. 

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Meet The Author

Alice Ayres
Alice Ayres
President and CEO
Association for Healthcare Philanthropy

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