The pandemic has undoubtedly changed how and where we work – and CWB is no different.
While we’ve been on a journey to create a more flexible work environment for the past several years, this was significantly accelerated with the onset of the pandemic and subsequently moving more than 80 per cent of our workforce to full-time remote work.
Like many businesses, we’ve learned a lot over the past two years about navigating untraditional work environments and unprecedented circumstances – and like many, it required us to be agile and prepared to pivot.
While we certainly haven’t gotten it perfect, we’re humbled to be named to the Great Place to Work® 2022 list of Best Workplaces for Hybrid Work because it’s based on our employees’ direct feedback. We’re so grateful not just for their tireless efforts to support our clients and each other, but for their candour in letting us know when things are working and when we need to do them differently.
Entering a new chapter in hybrid work
From how to support our teams both in their roles and in their wellness, to how to balance the different needs of our people with the needs of the organization, to exploring what work-life flexibility means going forward, three things are for certain:
- Our learnings will only continue to grow and evolve as we come out of the pandemic and venture back to the workplace in various degrees.
- Our People First culture will continue to be the north star that guides our way.
- We’ll continue to listen relentlessly to what our employees are telling us about how they’re feeling.
Below we share five cornerstones of our current approach to hybrid work. We hope you’ll find these insights helpful to your own back-to-the-workplace strategies.
5 considerations for a hybrid work model
- Better together…and with flexibility: For us, a People First culture requires a real human connection. So does recognizing that life is more than just work, and building in options for flexibility can help people perform at their best. That’s why we’re viewing in-person connection through the lens of being present for connections that count. In other words, considering quality over quantity when it comes to what drives the need to be in the same physical space.
- Keep culture, values, and client experience at the forefront: This means ensuring there’s a balance between employee desire for flexibility, the requirements of the role, and leaning into the organization’s values for how employees support and engage with each other and with clients. Put great customer experience at the centre and work outwards from there to explore what’s possible within your service delivery model and what employees are asking for. At CWB, this means recognizing that some roles need to be in-person to deliver on our promise of ‘obsessed with your success’. A bit of wisdom we’ve learned along the way, too: a) hybrid work likely won’t be a one-size-fits-all approach across the business, and b) the first go at it isn’t going to be perfect.
- Encourage re-connection and recognize this will be an adjustment: We’ve all been apart for too long! That’s why it’s important to create a plan to help re-establish team and workplace culture connections in a way that’s sensitive to the fact that we’ve been away from each other for over two years, and employees may have apprehensions about getting back to in-person contact. For CWB, reconnection means mindfully and gradually reintroducing activities that were familiar to the team before the pandemic such as staff social events, BBQs and breakfasts at the banking centres, and after-work happy hours – while also acknowledging without judgment that some may not feel comfortable with participating, or participating to the extent that they used to. And all of that is ok.
Something else to remember: for employees you hired during the pandemic, this might be their first time setting foot in your workplace and engaging with their team in person. So don’t forget to welcome and orient them to their new physical space and introduce them to team members they may not have previously encountered in their more isolated work-from-home environment.
- Listen – and communicate back: Continuously seek feedback from your employees – and do this often because things can (and probably will!) change. And then remember to always share that feedback and how you intend to use it. No one wants to see their opinions and insights go into a vacuum. At CWB this includes ongoing employee surveys, feedback channels (like our ‘Ask an Executive’ email inbox), and townhalls to address topics that are top of mind for leadership, teams, and individuals.
- Expect that you’ll need to re-visit and adjust your approach...a lot: We certainly don’t have it all figured out and are continuing to learn as we go. We’re regularly revising our plans to reflect the current environment, how our employees are feeling, and other determining factors.
Bringing it all together
Learnings over the past two years from navigating untraditional work environments and unprecedented circumstances can help inform this next chapter as many of us are venturing back to the workplace in various degrees. We’ve learned that developing a hybrid work approach involves putting great customer experience at the centre and working outwards from there to explore what’s possible within your service delivery model and what employees are asking for. Regardless of what hybrid work looks like for your business, listening to your employees, seeking feedback, and demonstrating what you’re doing with that feedback are important cornerstones of any solid approach.