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It’s widely believed that a three-day work week in the office is the magic number, but it’s a fundamentally flawed approach that many large companies have adopted. Instead, what leaders need to focus on is how hybrid her work arrangements address customer needs.
Columbia Business School study reviewed a text analysis of the earnings reports of S&P 500 companies and found that company executives talk about customers 10 times more often than employees. This number has increased over the last 15 years. Additionally, when companies discuss employees, executives are more likely to associate employees with risk factors and consumers with growth opportunities.
Ironically, executives fail to translate this focus into action when it comes to understanding return-to-office and hybrid work policies. for example, investigation Only 28% of 1,300 knowledge workers say their company makes the commute to the office worthwhile. Naturally, widely believed Being in the office three days a week is the magic number, and many large companies have adopted it, but it’s a fundamentally flawed approach.
Instead, leaders should focus on how hybrid work arrangements address customer needs. Her 3, 4, 5, 2, 1, or 0 days in the office may be best for the customer. But to create a successful hybrid work plan, prioritizing customer needs is critical, and business leaders must base their strategies around this focus.
As world renowned expert In the Future of Work, where we helped 22 organizations develop hybrid and remote work policies, we can confidently say that this is the biggest mistake companies make with hybrid work. In other words, theystart with whyFor customer success, don’t go back from the end goal to the policies needed to make it happen.
Debunking the 3-day work week myth
The assumption that having employees in the office three days a week is the best hybrid work solution is incorrect. This one-size-fits-all approach fails to consider customer-specific needs.
Amid the uncertainty of the pandemic, a three-day work week has emerged as a popular solution. As companies experimented with hybrid work models, this arrangement appeared to balance the benefits of remote work with the need for face-to-face collaboration. However, the adoption of this model by many organizations has led to the misconception that it is universally applicable.
The effectiveness of a three-day work week varies greatly by industry and role. Areas such as software development and creative services, for example, may be able to work more remotely without losing productivity or sacrificing customer needs. On the other hand, industries and functions that rely heavily on face-to-face interactions, such as sales, may require more onsite presence to maintain the quality of customer service. A tailored hybrid work strategy takes these industry and role-specific considerations into account to ensure that work arrangements are aligned with sector-specific demands.
Instead, leaders must adopt a more agile approach that prioritizes customer needs and adapts to an ever-evolving business environment.
RELATED: New trends in remote work help employers retain talent amid labor market pressures
understand the customer
The first step in creating a customer-centric hybrid work plan is to deeply understand customer expectations and preferences. This includes researching customer feedback, conducting market research, and having an open dialogue with customers. By understanding their needs and preferences, you can tailor your hybrid work arrangements to better serve them.
For example, a company that provides technical support services may find that their customers appreciate the prompt response to their inquiries. In this case, it is important to adopt a hybrid work model that ensures sufficient staffing during peak times, regardless of employee location, to meet customer needs.
In fact, one of my clients providing such services found it more convenient for staff to work remotely most of the time during the week. This is because most employees were much more willing to work non-standard hours when working remotely. The shift to non-standard working hours thus enabled the company to provide customer support for a longer period of time with faster response times. Still, his customer service staff would come into the office one day a week to see if there was someone available for the rare occasion that a customer came to the office in person.
Isn’t that amazing?Own LinkedIn survey We found that 80% of respondents work more non-standard hours working remotely than in the office. This is because staff would like to work longer than standard hours if they don’t have to waste time commuting to the office.
Align hybrid work with customer expectations
Once you identify your customer’s needs, it’s imperative that you adjust your hybrid work arrangements accordingly. This can mean rethinking assumptions about the optimal balance between remote and in-office work for different roles.
Consider a B2B professional services organization that has long relied on in-person meetings and events to build client relationships. With the rise of remote work, many of your customers may prefer virtual meetings, necessitating a change in your sales team’s approach. In this case, a hybrid work model that offers greater flexibility in how and where employees work may be better suited to changing customer preferences.
This was the case with one of my clients, a law firm. Their leadership initially assumed that customers would want to return to face-to-face meetings as the pandemic subsided. But I urged them to actually research their clients rather than act on their assumptions. It was a preference for video conferencing for interactions. It was king for conducting formal discussions, but the client preferred that most routine meetings took place via video conferencing.
A customer-centric hybrid work plan should include mechanisms to measure success and adapt as needed. Regularly assess the effectiveness of the hybrid work model in meeting customer needs through customer satisfaction surveys, feedback sessions, and other metrics. Use this data to make informed decisions about adjusting your strategy.
For example, if customer feedback suggests that response times have increased since implementing a hybrid work model, adjust staffing levels or redistribute tasks to better serve clients. Please consider providing a Consider an example told to me by the Chief Human Resources Officer of a rural healthcare system with several hospitals in a Midwestern state. Many employees are using hybrid or fully remote modalities, but issues have arisen with case management departments working remotely and usage reviews. They had to return them to the office because they realized the importance of working with hospitalists for inpatients. This was essential to ensure a good discharge plan and a smooth transitional care, which proved impossible remotely. Here’s an example of hybrid work failing to satisfy patients and repositioning staff to prioritize patient needs.
Cognitive Bias: Hidden Barriers to Customer-Centric Hybrid Work Plans
Cognitive biases are dangerous errors of judgment that lead to poor decisions in everything from work to life. our relationship, often undermines effective hybrid work arrangements. One of the cognitive biases that hinders the shift to customer-centric hybrid work plans is the status quo bias. This bias is the tendency to prefer the status quo to change, even when the potential benefits of change outweigh the risks. In the context of hybrid work, the status quo bias has led leaders to stick to traditional office work arrangements or opt for the popular week 3 without considering whether these options truly serve their customers’ needs. You may be hired for day shifts.
To overcome the status quo bias, business leaders seek objective data and feedback to determine whether current models are effectively meeting customer expectations and how existing work arrangements are being replaced. should be critically evaluated. That way, you can make more informed decisions about the best hybrid work model for your organization.
Another cognitive bias that can hinder the development of customer-centric hybrid work plans is confirmation bias. This bias refers to our tendency to retrieve, interpret, and remember information in ways that confirm our pre-existing beliefs and assumptions. In the context of hybrid work, confirmation bias can cause leaders to focus only on evidence that supports their view of the ideal way of working and ignore or dismiss information that contradicts their beliefs about what customers actually need. there is.
To combat confirmation bias, business leaders should actively seek out diverse perspectives and opinions inside and outside their organizations. Through candid dialogue with employees, customers, and industry experts, leaders gain a more balanced and comprehensive understanding of the factors that influence the success of her hybrid work. This allows us to design a working model that truly prioritizes customer needs rather than simply following existing beliefs.
By recognizing and addressing the impact of cognitive biases in hybrid work decision-making, business leaders can develop more customer-centric strategies that truly meet the needs of their clients. This realization, coupled with a commitment to continuous improvement and transparent communication, paves the way for a successful adaptive hybrid work environment.
The key to a successful hybrid work plan is putting customer needs first. By debunking the 3-day work week myth and adopting a more agile approach, business leaders can create customized strategies that truly address the unique needs of their industries, teams, and customers.
Understanding customer expectations and preferences, tailoring hybrid work arrangements to meet those needs, and enabling teams to deliver superior service are key to designing a customer-centric hybrid work plan. It’s a step. Transparent communication and a commitment to continuous improvement by measuring success and adapting as needed further enhance an organization’s ability to navigate the complexities of hybrid work.
Ultimately, putting customer needs at the forefront of a hybrid work strategy fosters a vibrant work environment that supports both employee satisfaction and customer success. By adopting this customer-centric approach, business leaders can help keep their organizations agile, adaptable, and thriving in today’s ever-changing work environment.