How to Create a Performant and Equitable Hybrid Model for All Employees
Productive freedom is here to stay.
Remote work is becoming a reality, and quite fast. Are you prepared to embrace it?
We are currently witnessing a massive process of work reconfiguration using hybrid models. This challenge and, at the same time opportunity, is special because of its scale – it involves organizations differing in terms of size, structure, activity – but also through its experimental nature – it requires creativity and the ability to innovate, flexibility and agility to reinvent the way we run our businesses.
A common question for any leader involved in such a reset is how to obtain a good collaboration between remote employees and those working from the office, so that no one feels disadvantaged or deprived of certain benefits.
Under normal circumstances, an organization that would have intended switching to a hybrid model could have started with a few pilot teams, in order to test the transition from 9-5 in the office to remote.
Depending on the observations along the way, the company could have made adjustments and gradually obtain a customized work model, thoroughly verified before any large-scale implementation.
The pandemic accelerated this transition. It showed us that we can innovate spontaneously and that we can make remote work effective without pilot tests.
Now, as we rethink the proportion and conditions of returning to the office, we find that the pandemic has taught us something else: to put more value on individual needs and desires of all our employees, to involve them in the decision-making process and invite them to create along with their managers the best hybrid systems, integrated into high-performance business models.
Specific hybrid work challenges
As in any innovation exercise, in order to develop effective hybrid teams, it is necessary to start from concrete scenarios.
- For example, we need to ask ourselves how will communication take place or how will we manage meetings with some of the participants in the office and others remote? How often are we going to hold meetings from now on? What kind of technology will we need, but also how will we approach the debates, so that the whole team feels equally involved in dialogue and decisions?
- How could we encourage collaboration between colleagues and departments when some employees do not meet physically and others do? How can we avoid splits in our teams, how can we fairly integrate remote workers?
- Which model suits our business: to have fully-remote employees and fully-on site employees or to allow rotations between these two options for everyone?
- Where will the leaders work?
- What kind of survey tools can help us identify each employee’s workplace preferences? How can we respect a variety of individual options within a coherent and productive organizational culture?
- Is it necessary to rethink some benefits for our employees, such as access to the company car or facilities nearby the company’s premises (e.g. access to a gym next to the office)? How do we take into consideration the fact that some needs differ when working remotely?
- What kind of specialists and trainings can assist our managers and teams in the transition to a hybrid model?
How to obtain a performant hybrid work model
As many leaders currently involved in the transition to hybrid models have noted, we are not talking about replicating previous procedures, but about rethinking internal workflows from the ground up, in order to achieve increased performance and employee satisfaction.
In an article published by the Harvard Business Review, also mentioned in our newsletter (to which you can subscribe from the website’s bottom bar), specialists at The Future of Work Consortium have identified four major directions to approach these transitions:
- Rethinking jobs and tasks. For each position in the organization chart, we need to understand the specific needs of flexibility in terms of time and workspace. Does asynchronous communication or quick feedback benefit the employee? Does he/she mostly need quiet places for focus or, on the contrary, face-to-face contact with colleagues, associates and customers?
- Employees’ preferences. Assuming one can work both remotely and on site, it is important to have options adapted to his preferences. Most likely, extroverts will opt for more time spent at the office, while others will prefer more remote working days.
- Rethinking projects and workflows. These should be adjusted to the hybrid context so that there is coordination within mixed teams and between departments.
- Fairness and inclusion. By thinking empathetically, positively and creatively, by communicating effectively with the whole team and by involving everyone in decisions, companies will avoid feelings of injustice, burnout or decreased performance.
While the transition to hybrid work is not without challenges, we are currently getting more and more encouraging signals from companies that openly embrace such changes.
What other elements would you consider important in order to make this transition advantageous to all?