It is not surprising that organizations have adopted hybrid work in droves. During the pandemic, employees demonstrated that they could be trusted to be productive and perform work from a distance. As we emerge from the pandemic, employees overwhelmingly want to retain a degree of remote work rather than return to the pre-pandemic 9 to 5 office environment with commutes, extra costs, and all the other inconveniences that come with an inflexible, centralized work environment.
As a result, many organizations have attempted to support a pivot to hybrid work. They’ve examined new work modes (i.e., the blend between on-site and remote work), created processes for assigning employees to work modes (based on job and personal fit), and determined which weekdays and how many days per week staff should be required to be in the office. Now that these hybrid decisions have been made, organizations are in a wait-and-see, reactionary mindset with respect to talent management.
Yes, there is value in providing leaders and employees with the autonomy to sort out some of the hybrid work details themselves, but they need frameworks, skills, practices, and exercises that will enable them to navigate the world of hybrid work effectively. After all, hybrid work is the most complex work arrangement due to the additional challenges it presents, such as:
1. How do we know where our colleagues are, how to reach them, and what mode a meeting is in (e.g., remote, hybrid, in person)?
2. How do we make days in the office worth the commute, expenses, and advance planning?
3. What are new ways of leading that lend themselves well to managing a team of hybrid workers? What capabilities and skills are needed beyond those required in the office?
4. How can executives make hybrid work a strategic advantage, rather than a necessary evil designed to avoid a Great Resignation?
As pioneer experts on distributed work since 2003, we recommend that proactive, hybrid-supportive organizations do the following rather than adopt a wait–and–see approach:
1. Seek out, listen to, understand, and use employee feedback to gauge the current climate. Learn how people are adjusting and how to support employees through the transition. Use pulse check surveys and multivariate analyses to isolate the most important factors.
2. Identify any skills gaps among leadership and address them. Everyone from executives to frontline leaders need to role model effective hybrid work. Competencies or capabilities (such as flexibility and empathy), skills (such as planning and organizing), and habits (such as appropriate check-ins and meeting management) must be honed.
3. Identify any skill gaps among individual contributors and address them. Do employees have the self-management, communication, teamwork, and technical skills to excel in a hybrid work environment? Do they have technological agility—the ability to dynamically adopt the right communication medium at the right time and for the right message?
4. Identify mechanisms to support teams and team leaders. Teams are the building blocks of modern organizations. They are the engines that translate inputs into outputs in the organizational value chain. The organization can only perform as well as its collective teams. Therefore, it is important to double down on your efforts to develop high-performing remote and hybrid teams. This can be done by diagnosing team health or creating a Team Playbook for Hybrid, which are the rules of engagement that will support a healthy, productive, and high-functioning team where people want to stay.
How is your organization proactively addressing the above issues when it comes to hybrid work? Do you have a talent management strategy in place to ensure that employees are able to contribute to their maximum potential?
Would you be interested in a free consult to gauge your organization’s current state with respect to hybrid work and identify drivers that can take your organization’s talent to the next level? Reach out to our hybrid/remote workplace organizational psychology experts today.