Hybrid work is on the rise. This statement is justified by numerous global statistics that confirm the willingness of many companies to implement flexible work models. Despite this fact, there are some businesses that force employees to go back to the office. We can observe quite controversial statements from companies like Morgan Stanley requiring team members to appear in the office or WeWork claiming that only engaged employees will return to the office space.
So, how should we convince others that hybrid work makes sense and that shifting towards flexibility in the workplace is the only way to go?
Well, I think we shouldn’t convince anyone at all.
Whenever someone asks me about proof confirming that “hybrid work actually works” I tend to respond that digging into historical data is irrelevant. I believe that we should measure how our business environment is operating right now to draw conclusions. We ought to take a look at global trends, the productivity of our team as well as our business context. There is no one-size-fits-all response that is applicable to every industry.
A brief context of hybrid work
Hybrid work existed a long time ago, but nobody called it this way. Let’s look at for instance sales teams being distributed by nature. Anyway, the idea is quite simple at first glance. It’s supposed to be a mixture of remote-first and in-office practices. However, it’s not hard to imagine that it may not be possible for every company due to its nature. Hybrid work seems like an amazing opportunity for companies in the service industry where we don’t need physical presence on a daily basis.
The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the workplace revolution and when restrictions were being lifted, some companies claimed to work in a hybrid manner. That’s something I can’t agree with at all. Hybrid doesn’t mean rotation in the workspace due to safety measures but a scalable and sustainable framework. It isn’t an emergency solution during the pandemic but a plan that involves a detailed strategy and resources. Therefore, many companies are starting to redesign their office spaces, invest in digitalisation and train their staff to embrace flexible work.
Let’s start with a SWOT analysis
Before we make a decision to enter into a flexible work model, we must determine where we are. Therefore, we should start with a simple SWOT analysis which will help us to assess our current business environment. I’ve mentioned this many times and I’ll do it again – don’t just copy what other companies are doing. If an organisation has decided to allow to work from anywhere, it doesn’t mean that we should follow. Assessing our business needs, goals and environment as well as the preferences of our team is the key to success. There’s a lot to win, believe me, but we can also lose a lot if we don’t act wisely.
It may turn out that our employees are super enthusiastic to shift from the previous office-first model. However, it may be that managers get sceptical as they haven’t been trained to lead a distributed team in a hybrid work environment. I usually tend to observe that when companies or people are sceptical towards flexible work, it’s because of their own, biased experiences from the past. This is completely justified and that’s why we should analyse such challenges deeper.