Making Hybrid Work, Work

Making Hybrid Work – Work

The priority during the COVID-19 pandemic was crisis response and emphasizing health and safety, essential services, and the virtualization of work. And all of us had to step up various ways to respond to this crisis and play various roles in keep others and ourselves engaged, maintaining workflows and being resilient. But now as the COVID numbers seem to be tracking in the right direction, we need to turn our attention toward to a new phase – refocus. Refocus on how we work together in an environment where our working rules need to be redefined.

Most definitions of hybrid work usually entail one of two scenarios:

  • Hybrid can mean that some people and teams work mostly in-person in the same location, whereas other people and teams in the same company are largely or entirely remote.
  • Hybrid work can also mean that most people work some days in the central office and some days from home or another remote location.

To master anything requires practice. The same is true for adopting a hybrid work model. This flexible model of work has many benefits—improved employee productivity, and real estate cost savings. If not done correctly though, adopting hybrid work can lead to a decline in workplace experience, retention, and creativity. To reap the benefits of this flexible model of work, we need to make the workplace a space employees want to spend their time.

Four key steps to making hybrid work – work for you are the following:

1. Ask & Assess3. Partner
2. Gather Feedback4. Delight
1. Ask and Assess

Ask yourself questions that probe for the hybrid needs of your people. Potential questions include:

  • How dispersed is our team? Are most employees close to an office location?
  • Do we plan on growing the team? How open are we to bringing on remote talent?
  • Do we work best as a team when we’re in-person? Can we replicate our work virtually?
  • Is workplace flexibility important to our company culture?
  • Will remote or hybrid work options improve engagement, retention, or inclusion?
2. Gather Feedback – Regularly
  • Listening to employees is critical to making hybrid work a success. Be sure to keep an open line of communication with your people as you’re thinking through changes to the workplace that may impact them.
  • When developing workplace schedules, get your employees’ points of view.
  • Consider creating a cross-functional workplace committee that includes employee representatives.
  • Have more than one method for gathering employee feedback. Try creating a feedback channel on MS Teams or Slack or an “always-on” survey.
3. Partner with HR & IT
  • According to Gartner, IT spending in companies will grow by 6.2% in 2021 alone. To make the right investments, collaborate closely with HR and IT teams.
  • HR should have insight into the kinds of tools that employees need to be productive while on-site. IT will make sure people’s infrastructures can support the networking connections necessary for hybrid work.
  • When you’re adopting a new model of work, it can be easy to over-invest in workplace tech trends.
  • Partnering with IT and HR will ensure you do not invest in unnecessary technologies that no one wants or needs.
4. Delight Remote & On-Site Employees
  • People need to experience moments of delight and since employees may have all the resources they need at home, the workplace needs to have a special X factor to entice them to come in on a regular basis.
  • Organize workplace activities that include remote employees. For example, hold a virtual karaoke contest, external guest speaker, or casual happy hours.
  • Create an online team group that encourages people to take part in a daily photo challenge or question of the day. These are easy for anyone to participate in, regardless of their location.
  • In the office, add drink stations so employees can help themselves to coffee and tea. This will also help spark interactions between employees who may not work together on a regular basis.

Hybrid work presents new challenges for the workplace. The transition won’t be seamless. But organizations that learn to make the most of this new style of work stand to gain unprecedented flexibility, agility, and autonomy. As we slowly emerge from the pandemic, the business world has an unprecedented opportunity to reimagine itself. We must be intentional and equitable with how we choose to rebuild.

Work may never be the same as it once was. And that may be very cool.

Corey Atkinson
VP of Strategic Learning & Development

Follow Corey on LinkedIn.

As an experienced organizational development speaker, consultant, master facilitator, coach, and author – his focuses on delivering meaningful and measurable strategies for organizations to create insightful leaders and harness team potential. With over 20 years in the organizational development industry, Corey is well known for his ability to connect with any audience at any size. He has provided strategic learning, organizational consulting, professional speaking, coaching and training to organizations – of all sizes – across North America. Some of his clients include: Shell, Aviva, BMO, VIA, Tim Hortons, Miele, and government agencies at all levels. He has a results-based partnership approach to develop customized solutions that meet an organization’s unique business needs and resolve their most significant issues, helping them to create a lasting competitive advantage.