Managing the hybrid workplace

What does it take to prosper in a hybrid working world?

CMI research shows a large majority of managers (80%) are already working in a blended approach, where between one and four days a week are on-site, and the rest is remote. The Accenture Future of Work Study 2021 indicates that 63% of high-growth companies have adopted a “productivity anywhere” workforce model. But models that satisfy all the needs of all workers all the time are hard to find, says Accenture. The reason for this is likely the sheer number of factors at play when setting people up for their best work in a hybrid structure. There are no ‘one size fits all’ answers.

The type of work you do plays a role, of course. And then there is variation found in the working environment. It is easier to work from home if you have a defined space for work that is relatively distraction free, ergonomically not harmful (i.e., with a decent chair, desk, and lighting), and reliable, fast internet connection. Remove one or more of these factors and quickly the traditional office becomes a more appealing place to work, even when we consider travelling time. Added to that are personality factors such as introversion or extroversion that leave some people loving a remote set-up, and others longing for more physical interaction and connection. The Accenture research also found that Gen Zer’s expressed more desire for opportunity to connect and collaborate face to face, likely the result of them being at the start of their careers. Earlier Gens are not far behind in calling for face to face, but the key point is that different phases of life and their associated commitments may well have an impact on what we value most, at a point in time.

“It’s complex, because there’s also wellbeing issues around whether people want to be in the office and how they’re able to keep safe. If we put employees at the centre of this, how do we make sure they can cope with, and more importantly, thrive in whatever model we develop?” Hybrid Working, Now for the Reality – CMI

As we grapple with how to arrange ‘work’, we’ll need to think about what hybridity means for people as individuals, and to ask them. There is so much variation. Truly, each person is unique. Our models need to take account of business needs as well as personal differences. That’s if we want to set people up to thrive in a hybrid workplace, and to attract the right people to the business for the future.

Managing the hybrid workplace is moving from about ‘place’ to about ‘potential’. And that’s an exciting shift.

Job seekers, employers and employees can move into this shift with these kinds of questions:

  • What do I need to do my best work?
  • What resources do employees / others need to do their best work?
  • How can we tailor resources to needs?
  • How do we ensure access to resources?
  • What new competencies must we build?
  • How visible are our employees?
  • How am I leading by example?
  • What kind of future of work do we want to build, and be part of?

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