Remote and Hybrid work

20 July 2021

4 min.

Hybrid work mode: Why is it important to give a choice?

With physical workplaces reopening and teams going back to the office in hybrid mode, it’s more important than ever to give people a choice. Discover why and how.

Post-pandemic: Why is giving choice especially important?

The pandemic created a choice deficit

For the past year, the pandemic has left us with a lack of choice! We could no longer go to work, visit family, or travel as we wanted. We were told what to do and we were forced to do things in new ways.

When we have no choice, we feel that we lack control. So, not having a grip on the steering wheel, and therefore being subjected to events, is a major source of stress.

Not giving choice leads to negative emotions

Perhaps you’ve implemented a new wellbeing initiative in your team or offered a new gift as part of your recognition program. And yet, despite the fact that you thought you were improving working conditions or making a positive change, the response was less than enthusiastic.

You may have found your team members to be killjoys, and your little inner voice may have called them crybabies. Your reactions and emotions were certainly valid. However, other people’s responses of disappointment were just as valid!

Disappointment and resistance are often due to the fact that people don’t feel that they have a choice in what is implemented. They feel that they are being forced to do something and that, on top of it, they are expected to be grateful for it.

On the other hand, there is evidence that offering “controlled choices” and even better, choices that were “unexpected” leads to a higher level of engagement. It also reduces negative emotions. In addition, it is a way to demonstrate trust and respect for colleagues and employees.

How to offer choice in the right way?

The Neuroleadership Institute tells us that to drive more engagement, the optimal number of choices to give initially is 3 or 4. Offering 2 choices is fine… however, the brain perceives this as a dilemma. Beyond 4 choices, it becomes confusing and difficult to remember, so it’s too much.

For example, if your organization decides to redesign workspaces by reducing assigned cubicles to provide more collaborative spaces, this is a great opportunity for a manager to give a choice, and for an employee to be able to make a choice. Indeed, it is an opportunity for each team member to work from the place that suits them best.

And if desks are assigned, it has been demonstrated that allowing the freedom to personalize your workspace increases productivity by 25%! So, don’t hesitate to give free rein to personalization!

Finally, prior to the pandemic, many organizations offered classroom training on a specific topic or topics related to their issues, and as such were the same for all participants. To try a new approach in this era of hybrid work, you could also offer each person the choice to further their development in their own way.

At Palo Alto Networks, an American telecom company, they offer 4 choices through their Flexworkprogram in regards to development

  • Through peer reviews, quizzes, and self-assessments
  • With a personalized development plan
  • Through conversations with their manager
  • By targeting their personal development goals

How can you further consult your team members or employees and get them more engaged?

At Boostalab, we use the Heatmap in organizations that want to do this exercise. The Heatmap is an easy-to-use, 24/7 consulting tool that we have developed to take the pulse of organizations and teams.

A survey like the Heatmap allows you to hear concerns about returning to the office. It also allows you to gather ideas for hybrid work or to choose new work practices that better meet the needs.

Otherwise, if you have the opportunity to participate in a consultation or have ideas, don’t hesitate to be proactive and get involved in the change. By sharing your innovative solutions and out-of-the-box ideas, you will feel more engaged and encourage others to do so as well.

The Heatmap

Consult, engage your teams, and make decision-making easier with a visual tool.


Finally, one of the keys to a successful transition is to treat people like adults by giving them choice rather than deciding for them. And while this is important in the context of hybrid work, allowing choice should be a habit for all times and teams.