All across the country, companies are giving their employees more choice than ever before.

Whereas before the pandemic, white collar employees were typically required to work from the office five days a week, and in COVID-19’s immediate on-set, they were required to work from home, today it’s become increasingly common for employees to have the option to choose. Many companies have embraced hybrid work policies which enable employees to split their time between the office and home.

Industrious’ Chief Commercial Officer Anna Squires Levine recently spoke on a panel about hybrid work policies at RETHINK Office 2021: National Online Conference. Here are four takeaways from that discussion that show enterprise companies are navigating the workplace at this moment in time.

Enterprises Prioritize Flexibility

Because of the ongoing uncertainty around the pandemic, many enterprise companies are hesitant to put requirements in place around employees’ in-office attendance. Instead, they’re prioritizing flexibility in their return-to-office plans, and giving their employees options on where and how they work, whether that’s from home or the office.

“We’ve advocated that employees have choice and flexibility in terms of where and how they work. So many people who previously may have been assigned to an office depending on their line of business may now have a choice in terms of being a flex worker, hybrid worker, or continuing to work from home,” said Michelle Meyer, VP of the Americas real estate and facilities at Oracle, on the panel. “We continue to remain watchful, to see what the fall might bring, especially with the upcoming flu season, [and] what happens with the Delta variant.”

Employees Embrace Hybrid Work Polices

Given the option to choose where they work, many employees are heading back into the office a few days a week. In fact, despite the Delta variant, since April Industrious has seen “huge week-over-week increases in attendance of members to our spaces. And that’s been true across cohorts [and] across company sizes,” said Squires Levine on the panel. “I think the largest companies we work with [have] been surprised by how many of their employees, if given the option, actually would prefer to get out of their bedroom corner or just have a different place to go and focus one or two days a week.”

Companies Support Managed Choice

In general, companies are enabling their employees to have more freedom than ever to determine their workplace for the day, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s an anything-goes mentality. Rather, many companies are providing a menu of options to their employees — for example, asking that they come into the office on Mondays or for a specific purpose, such as quarterly planning sessions.

“Ultimate choice is also not the answer,” said Squires Levine on the panel. “The companies that I’m admiring the most right now are the ones who are like … ‘There are eight kinds of ways you can work. We’re going to put guardrails [around] what we think each venue can hold support.’ But then let employees choose what they think is most productive for themselves.”

This approach allows employers to better manage resourcing and to have some say over where and how teams work or interact without infringing on individual employees’ work styles.

Hybrid Changes the How We Work

It’s tempting to think of hybrid as a change in where teams work. But the truth is, it’s much more than that. “With hybrid working, you have to shift your leadership dynamic — how people lead, how they manage. You [also] have to shift how people expect work to be done … and then the tools that we use,” said Grant Christofely, Associate Director of Workplace Strategy at M Moser, on the panel.

The role of the office has changed as well. Instead of being a place where we do all of our work, hybrid work policies turn the office into a point of connection for teams — where you go when you want to collaborate, bond, or tackle a project together. It’s a much more intentional vision of the office, one which is already having an impact on what the office looks like and how it functions for teams in the future.