Be clear about why you’re going hybrid

Because hybrid working has largely emerged in response to easing coronavirus restrictions, it has tended to focus on how to maintain business-as-usual in challenging circumstances. In reality, this isn’t the best starting point for building your strategy.

Business-as-usual thinking tends to bring a 9-to-5 office-based mindset to a world that’s leaving that way of working behind. Instead, we need to think differently.

Rather than beginning with location, you should start with the work. Because when you deeply understand how work creates value for your business, you can see how hybrid can improve how work gets done throughout your organization.

It means you can focus more effectively on the business benefits of making a change and less on implementing blanket policies around days spent in the office. This might lead to you expanding access to the talent marketplace, for example. Or it could be about improving productivity by removing location dependencies. Or even redefining your employee value proposition in response to employee feedback.

Building on success The great home working experiment of the last 18 months tore down many preconceptions about remote working. Businesses were pleasantly surprised that productivity increased when they’d expected the opposite.

Sadly, they then began to discover the reasons behind this were neither wholesome nor sustainable. This set the stage for the rise in hybrid working, an acknowledgement that remote working was here to stay but that it had to move on.

Many organizations now recognize that hybrid working offers a way to capture the benefits of remote working for employees but also make it work for the business. What began as an exercise in operational continuity has evolved into an ambition to determine the best mix of people, skills and capabilities to meet key objectives and support business strategy.

Getting strategic about going hybrid At its core, hybrid working is about business performance rooted in operational excellence. It’s about:

> How you contain costs

> How you counter worsening industry-wide skills shortages

> How you ensure the right people are working on the right things

> How you determine what work can be done remotely or even be automated

> How you improve processes and better serve customers

> How you get products to market faster

It’s this business-level strategic thinking that should be the foundation of your approach to hybrid working and everything that follows. It needs to be clear, compelling and communicated effectively to management and employees alike if it’s to succeed.

"The smart money in today’s highly disrupted environment will flow to businesses that are ‘composable’ — made up of interchangeable building blocks that can scale up or down or swap out, according to the context. A hybrid workforce model offers exactly that kind of radical flexibility."

7 Myths Standing Between You and a Hybrid Future of Work, Gartner