Gain perspective of your organization as a system

Despite the standard use of org charts and other schematics, many organizations struggle to get a clear picture of their employees, the work they do and how that work supports their business strategy.

Even basic elements such as job titles can mean different things in different locations — a VP in the US may do the same job as a director in the UK. So, when you begin to look at specific activities in a particular role, things start to get complicated:

> Are those activities being duplicated or split across roles?

> Do employees have skills that aren’t being used?

> Are senior managers spending time on activities that belong to their previous role?

Working out how to improve productivity by streamlining work is complex. And introducing place and time dependencies within a hybrid working model complicates things even further.

This level of complexity can appear daunting at first. But if you want to ensure your hybrid working strategy contributes to business productivity, you’ll need to get into the detail and start looking at your workforce data.

Examine your structure first Begin by looking at the core structure of your business. Understand the shape and scope of your organization by looking at spans and layers.

How many layers do you have? Six or seven is workable, nine or ten quickly becomes unwieldy.

What departments, divisions and subdivisions do you have and how do reporting lines work? These are the basics you want to get a handle on first.

Understanding the span of control of your organization is vital and will help you clarify accountability. Because if ambiguities exist, you can be sure a hybrid working structure will quickly magnify them.

When interrogating your organizational structure, spreadsheet analysis is no longer enough. To get clear insights and make fast decisions, it’s important to make your data as visual as possible.

You need to be able to show where you are and where you’re going in a way that everyone can understand and get behind. This is central to effectively communicating what hybrid working means for the business and it will have a fundamental impact on your ultimate success.

What shape are you? Compared to a simple top-down org chart, a more visual approach means you can gain valuable insights into the shape of your organization:

> Are some departments more top-heavy than others?

> Do you have too many middle managers?

> Does the volume of entry-level positions make effective management difficult?

By doing this, you can begin to see who is contributing most to business performance, who the approvers are and who’s doing the work itself. This will help uncover dependencies that could have a material effect on your hybrid working strategy.

This is important because it opens up the opportunity to put processes in place that will minimize workflow bottlenecks in a hybrid environment. For example, time-critical decisions shouldn’t be unduly delayed because the approver is in a different location.

By gaining clarity into how the business operates as a system, you can begin to plan what must happen to take account of location dependencies within your hybrid working strategy.


"A major transformation in the way work is done will bring many complications for organizations, from grappling with scheduling and how best to repurpose physical space to rethinking inclusion and performance management."


Roy Maurer SHRM