The Hybrid Workplace its the world’s next big business challenge, cutting across all verticals, positions, job roles and industries.
70% of employees want hybrid work to continue according to a Microsoft study. . Yet the same 70% want more in-person collaboration. How can that be? It is.
And the point is clear. Most people want hybrid work. But few understand how to make it successful.
The Hybrid Workplace is Here to Stay
According to a recent McKinsey study, 90% of companies will need to run hybrid workplaces after the pandemic. Yet only 32% of companies have a plan in place or even a clear vision for hybrid work.
Despite the lack of planning, two-thirds of companies are aware they need to prepare for hybrid work. It’s just that more than half of them aren’t doing it. Why not?
Because the hybrid workplace involves ways of thinking and working that are distinct from how we have done things before. This need for new approaches has some slower-thinking companies in paralysis. In some cases, companies are simply too busy keeping afloat to worry about the future yet.
This is a mistake. Studies from the 2008 financial crisis show that future focus during an extreme crisis leads to an advantage of more than 30% That’s both during the crisis and after it.
So you need to start thinking about your long-term plan for hybrid work now. Even if you haven’t brought a single person back to the office yet.
How Can You Make the Hybrid Workplace Work?
You don’t want it to work “as well as” the old ways. You want it to work even better.
Thus, the question facing managers and leaders is very simple. But the answer is quite a bit more complicated.
You need to empower two opposite sides of the equation. Don’t show preference in your systems and processes for remote vs in-office vs hybrid. Set everything up to work well for everyone.
Won’t this cost three times as much, or more? And make everything three times as complicated?
No. It need not. The key is to work with the advantages of hybrid work, not just wrestle with its challenges.
We drive our Employee Experience Solution for Hybrid Work with four straightforward steps. We thought it’s worth explaining in a bit more detail.
Empower Working Together Separately
When COVID-19 struck in 2020, entire companies were forced to change their approach to working together synchronously. They shifted from physical boardrooms to online meetings on Zoom, Teams, Meet and other platforms. For early adopters, this was even old hat. But for the majority of employees it was a new skill.
We need to become fluid with the switch between synchronous and asynchronous work. Last year we did the same trick with remote and in-person.
The goal is to work with everyone, wherever they are, AT ANY TIME! Even when your time and their time are not the same time.
In the hybrid workplace, working together alone will become commonplace.
Use tools like Collaborative Assessments and Collective Surveys to share input across a team of any size. Incorporate Whiteboards into your project as part of the team’s toolset, a place to save iterations and variations right inside the project.
Build a practice of peer transparency. When everyone knows what everyone else’s job is and what their goals are it is easier to support each other.
Support New Methods for Employee Success
People engage when they experience success. When they feel trust. When they are connected to the company’s goals and values.
You are training your people to work together as well when distributed as they did in the office. Now you also want to start to show them how to succeed while asynchronous. Provide the tools they need to maximize their success. Further, let them see how supporting one another’s success doesn’t take away from their own achievements, but adds to it.
Start to manage projects the way you would manage an innovation challenge. Share every step and be open to input from anyone at any moment. Don’t wait for long-term results. See how you can measure incremental progress to encourage your talent to see their progress every day. Give them ways to share this progress with everybody. And be ready for successful ideas to bubble up much faster than before.
Make Connecting Commonplace
The traditional approach to engagement is that it is a measure. The new approach in the hybrid workplace is that engagement is a goal and core activity. The old way of driving engagement was top-down. Engagement today needs to be parallel and bottom-up.
Make engagement a key OKR. Ask employees to spend time every day actively engaging with one another. Whether they think they need to or not. Soon, they will enjoy and look forward to it. Even if they used to be a bit of a curmudgeon.
With everyone working from different places, it’s easy for office-based employees to get the preference for resources and especially time. By making digital engagement the norm, you remove the potential stigma facing out-of-office participants. It’s also much easier to track and refer back to digital engagements. Every one of them can be saved and re-accessed.
You make engagement far more productive when you realize that recognition is the most important driver of positive employee experience. This is equally true in the hybrid workplace. Sure, some employees would rather be recognized privately. But the vast majority of your talent will be just fine with you recognizing them openly and widely. Even better, make it easy for your people to recognize their teammates. Peer praise is as potent as praise from leaders when the environment is created in the right way. And more than 40% of employees actively want more praise from their peers.
Create a New Culture Based on Today’s Values
Culture is, of course, a word everyone defines a little differently. But what it amounts to is: how does your company know itself? To thrive in the hybrid workplace, your company must operate based on hybrid workplace values, right? These include the strange shift that people come before mission perhaps for the first time. You will benefit from ensuring that innovation and engagement are two of your core values. Cognitive and social flexibility are the skills of the 22nd century.
Help us help you by reaching out to us. Schedule a demo of our AT THE EDGE EMPLOYEE EXPERIENCE SOLUTION FOR HYBRID WORK. We’ll show you the above principles in action. We’ll make it clear to you that these four steps are the key to hybrid work. Whether you use our solution or not.
COLLABORATE – DELIVER – ENGAGE – TRANSFORM.
Don’t take our word for it. Schedule time with us.
AT THE EDGE
Michael Lee, SVP Strategy, Innovation Minds