Research from Gartner indicates 46% of workplaces will follow a hybrid working model in the near future. It’s also estimated that in 70% of manager-employee relations, either the manager or employee will be working remotely at least part of the time.

While another BCG study highlighted 53% of South Africans would prefer a job that allows them to work from home occasionally; and 44% indicated they want to work remotely (compared to a global average of 24%).

This trend is further confirmed by a survey of 150 CEOs in America’s largest companies. 85%  reported they were reducing office space by as much as 50%.

It’s no wonder the Financial Times forecasted earlier this year that “Hybrid” would be the word of 2021!

Understanding the complexities of hybrid working

In a recent Harvard Business Review article, Edmondson and Mortenson stressed the importance of keeping in mind “that hybrid working arrangements present a parallel increase in managerial complexity; managers face the same workflow coordination challenges they’ve managed in the past, now with the added challenge of coordinating among people who can’t be counted on to be present at predictable times.”

McKinsey is of the opinion that the hybrid working model brings a real competitive advantage because employees will have the flexibility to be more productive, while still feeling they belong to an emerging community.

However, Prof Lynda Gratton wrote in the MIT Sloan Management Review: “To find the right way forward, leaders must understand the time and place axes of hybrid work – the upsides and downsides of where and when people work – and align them so that they feed the energy, focus, coordination and cooperation needed to be productive.

She highlights the following four energy principles of hybrid workplaces:

  1. Use the office space to amplify coordination.
  2. Make working from home a source of energy.
  3. Take advantage of asynchronous time to boost focus.
  4. Use synchronical time for tasks that require coordination.

10 Factors to consider before moving to a hybrid working model

In the words of Lynda Gratton, it’s crucial that “hybrid arrangements should never replace existing practices – as when firms began automating work processes decades ago.”

Here are few fundamental questions that need to be considered first:

  1. What will be the design of the hybrid office?
  2. How will you maintain optimal productivity?
  3. How do you create high performance teams in a hybrid environment?
  4. What are the rights and obligations of employees and employers in the hybrid world?
  5. What will be the new models of performance evaluations and management?
  6. How will you build a corporate culture that creates of a sense of purpose and belonging?
  7. How will you have to rethink people strategies in terms of talent management, diversity and inclusion, learning and development, etc.?
  8. How do you create an exceptional employee experience in hybrid environment?
  9. How do you promote employee wellbeing in the new hybrid work environment?
  10. How will you create and manage psychological safety in a hybrid workplace?

Moving to a hybrid working model also calls for a new leadership model that is built around purpose, empathy and collaboration. Leaders will be responsible for creating a culture of innovation, while simultaneously offering hope in difficult and disruptive times.

Don’t miss the Hybrid Workplace Conference, taking place online on 23-24 June 2021. This two-day, virtual conference will bring together local and international experts to answer of these questions, and more! You can learn more – by clicking here.