Hybrid Work: Three Questions to Help Balance Organizational Needs with Your Team’s Expectations

Remote work, flexible hours, and people-first leadership have become expectations for today’s top leadership talent – but more and more organizations are finding that allowing individuals to dictate the where, when, and how of work is challenging leaders’ ability to lead effectively, as well as the company’s ability to meet its culture, growth, and performance goals. 

The pandemic made remote and flexible work a reality for many organizations. They transitioned to remote models quickly out of necessity, teams adapted and embraced new ways of work, and leaders learned to lead in new ways. But many organizations are starting to have “back to office” discussions, creating tension between when, where, and how people want to work, and the business needs and expectations of the organization. 

These new “back to office” policies are proving to be not just polarizing across industries, but challenging from a leadership recruitment and retention perspective. A 2023 Angus Reid Institute survey found that for employees currently working from home, 31 per cent would begin looking for a new job if ordered back to the office, and another 21 per cent would resign shortly after being brought back to the office full time.   

While back to office policies may be what’s best for the organization, a people-first approach to culture has organizations and leaders trying to find balance between their needs and the benefits that working from home has had on employees. Many are engaging their leaders and teams in the decision-making process (through surveys, listening sessions, and employee groups), engaging in trial programs (e.g., reassessing the policies after six months), and more – all to help find that balance. 

If your organization is struggling to define back to office policies, here are three questions you can ask to help balance the where, when, and how of your workforce with the expectations of your high-performance leadership talent: 

  • What leadership behaviours are crucial for high-performance talent to fit/add to your current and future-state workplace and style? 
  • What is the purpose of having people back in the office? Does the work need match the place and pace of work? 
  • Are you willing and able to stand by your decisions about where, when and how work is done, even if that means potentially losing top leadership talent? 

You can deliver people-focused solutions and still do what’s right for your leaders and for the organization! It requires in-depth knowledge of what can (and does) work for the company’s culture, and how to drive accountability while delivering a people-first approach. It also requires the courage and conviction to stand by decisions that are in the best interests of the organization.  

Interested in learning more about some of the trends and tensions that organizations are finding in today’s market? Download Waterstone’s latest report, Uncertainty and Expectation: How Tension in the Market is Driving New Thinking for Organizations and Top Talent


At Waterstone Human Capital, we work with companies every day to help them assess and develop their people and culture. Schedule a meeting with one of our experts today and find out how we can help you attract and retain high-performance talent who will help you drive growth and success.