What is hybrid work? Today, it probably depends on who you ask. What’s becoming clear is that there is no clear definition, leaving organizations to muddle through the ambiguity as many work towards bringing their people back together in real time with actionable plans. There is no lack of information available, but the majority of it frames hybrid work as a one-size-fits-all solution, which couldn’t be further from the truth.
As organizations seek clarity, they must understand that hybrid work is and needs to be a customized model for every organization looking to adopt it. Work is increasingly more tailored to each organization, so the implementation of hybrid work requires deeper reflection on the values and beliefs each company holds true. What differentiates organizations is not just the work being done, but the ways in which work colleagues experience their unique culture.
While hybrid work isn’t new (you can read about it here or here), we need a more hopeful and optimistic way to frame the conversation. And organizations need to look inside for the answers to reshape and redefine their work experiences. If you’re tasked with figuring out how to make it work specifically for yours, asking and answering these three questions can help.
We’re using three questions to think about hybrid work that can help create the foundation for developing your plans and the future of work.
What do flexibility and autonomy mean for your organization?
Through the course of the pandemic, remote workers praised the newfound flexibility and autonomy that remote work offered. But there are numerous examples of how employee flexibility isn’t serving either the organization and or the employee. If you’re looking to adopt a hybrid model, how can you start to think about flexibility and autonomy in new ways that support both the organization and the individual? Fully defining what flexibility and autonomy mean to your organization through explicit language and examples can help you shape what this might look like in practice.
What allows people to come alive while working together?
Organizations need to define what creates meaningful connections for their employees. Ask yourself what makes your people come alive together in ways that are unique to your culture? How are meaningful connections made? Since almost all those connections previously took place in person, how can they be replicated virtually? The tools and models you choose should reinforce this element of your culture. Challenges like increasing efficiency are easy to solve. But asking yourself how your hybrid culture can make people come alive at work is more worthwhile to your organizational health.
How does your organization thrive as an ecosystem and support your purpose?
Hybrid work presents the possibility of disconnecting us from both the people we serve and the people we work with every day. A strong sense of purpose can help bridge the gap between the “why” of work and the “how” that drives it. When defining your unique hybrid work process, one important question to ask is how it will support your organizational purpose. And more critical to the development, how will you facilitate the right connections, places, and tools your colleagues need to fulfill your organization’s purpose while thriving together?
Solving these three issues will require a lot of original thinking – and some original answers. There is no guide, no other company’s footsteps to follow, nor any blanket solutions that work across an entire organization, since divisions and departments will need some modifications. Organizations will have to make small, incremental steps to figure out their hybrid future, one decision at a time. Adopt a mindset of learning, curiosity, and iteration to build your own future and allow people and purpose to be your guides to determine the next steps forward for your organization and employees. If you maintain focus on both, you’ll realize you don’t need an entire roadmap to create the plan, you’ll just need to know the next right step to take.