What’s still missing in the endless remote vs. hybrid vs. in-person debate

What’s still missing in the endless remote vs. hybrid vs. in-person debate

Remote, hybrid, return to the office: the debate still hasn’t ended. Some CEOs say innovation, teambuilding, comradery, and engagement just aren't the same over Zoom, Teams, and Slack. Other companies argue that mandates cause many employees to either quit, or always be on the lookout for a job that’s remote.

We’re neutral. Our technology is used by people who must work in a fixed location, and people who don’t. Customers use SkyHive’s Human Capital Operating System in retail stores, pharma labs, oil fields, schools, government offices, factories, warehouses, homes, shared workspaces, on trains and planes, in community centers, and everywhere in between.

But here’s where I do have an opinion on the debate. Though your challenges may appear to be location-related, it’s possible they’re not.  

If people are being passed over for promotions because they didn’t get to know a manager or company leader because of their geographic location, that’s a skills-intelligence problem. The person making the promotion decisions may not realize how transferable the skills are of people in their own workforce – and thus how quickly employees can fill needed skill gaps – so they hire someone from the outside.  

If you’re hiring a temp firm, or a contractor through an online task-based site, because you don’t know that someone in your own workforce can do the work, that’s also a skills-related problem. And it can’t always be solved just by having people closer to you. There are companies with remote work options that can tell you which of their employees has experience with AWS or Agile.

If your employee surveys indicate that employees are less engaged than you desire, that may not be due to where they work. We’ve all worked with remote employees who are hyper-engaged, and some who are not … and the same for in-person employees. The dividing line we have seen make a difference is a workplace where people are judged for their knowledge, skills, and potential. (Not other things like who-likes-who, who came from the same past employer or school, and who socializes or has lunch with colleagues because of geography.) Fortune 500 companies "report a 30 percent reduction in time to hire, 50 percent higher onboarding efficiency, and 70 percent higher learning & development efficiency” due to their adoption of a skills-based approach.

If your organization's diversity is limited by the composition of the population in your location, that, too, may mean you’re limited to “who has done this job before?" If you could get a granular look at how people could be reskilled to fill your jobs, you may find prospects you didn’t realize were out there. Or, you may, once you’ve seen just how much top talent is available in other locations, decide to loosen your location requirements.

And if employees quit for a new challenge when they could have found a new job internally – and maybe could have even been recruited internally – that's because they didn’t know how their skills were transferable, didn’t know what they needed to learn to switch jobs internally, and you may lack a culture of internal mobility.

Like I said, our technology doesn’t have a location preference. But the real priority is not location but understanding the capabilities of your employees and prospects, and what those individuals should learn to meet the needs of your organization and advance their careers. We’re not agnostic about that.  

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