Should your employees be in the office or work from home? This is a question many businesses are tackling right now, and LinkedIn has the answer: Yes.
Rather than fret about what everyone should do, LinkedIn's CEO, Ryan Roslansky, announced that LinkedIn's new policy was that they would trust people to work however and wherever worked best for them.
"We've learned every individual and every team works differently, so we're moving away from a one-size-fits-all policy," wrote Roslansky, and that is advice that every business owner should remember.
Why one-size-fits-all isn't sustainable
Some jobs absolutely have to be done onsite. Doctors can't operate from the beach, and factory floors need humans who are there. Support personnel should also be onsite in those situations. (Nothing says we don't care about our employees like an HR person who works from home while the employees are in the office.)
But many jobs can be done from home, and many people work well from home. Not all people work well from home, though. Some of those know it, and some don't. Good managers let those who can work from home and are good at it do so and manage the others appropriately.
Employees want flexibility, and having a completely remote workplace or a completely onsite team limits your hiring and retention ability. (To be clear, if you want your business to be 100 percent in the office or 100 percent remote work, that's great. Just be clear up front about the expectations. You will limit your hiring pool in doing so, but you'll also get people who are a good fit.)
LinkedIn is wise to have a mix. Coming into the office is a good thing for many people--and as Roslansky points out, 87 percent of LinkedIn's team wants to be in the office at least sometimes. This is higher than the 71 percent of people overall who prefer a hybrid work environment.
Trust is key
If you can't trust your employees to do their jobs, they probably shouldn't be your employees regardless of location. However, working from home is a skill, and you may need to train and coach people on how to do it. You need to work differently in your living room than you do in your cubicle. The distractions are different, the environment is different, and the boundaries are different.
Managing remote workers is also different from managing people you can see. Yes, every manager should be managing by performance, but there are still differences. For instance, you can walk by someone's cubicle and tell that they are struggling with something. You can then offer help or guidance. In a remote environment, your employee needs to be proactive about speaking up--or the manager needs to be proactive about asking. Either way, it's different.
But trusting your employees to make their own decisions about what works for them can go a long way toward building an engaged workforce.
However, one note: Roslansky's message didn't say that everyone would always get to choose where they worked. He said, "We're embracing flexibility with both hybrid and remote roles," which sounds an awful lot like some roles will have more time in the office, by design. That's OK--just be honest about each position when hiring.
Trying to force everyone back to the office 100 percent probably won't be a successful strategy. LinkedIn is wise to listen to its people.