Understand location and time dependencies

In many organizations, there will be work that’s dependent on a particular location. Some industries, like manufacturing, will always be tied to physical locations, as will others where the work relies on non-portable equipment.

Often, activities will also be constrained by time, such as customer contact roles and for employees located in specific time zones. Today, however, the majority of knowledge economy work can be done at any time and in virtually any location.

Even so, it’s important to recognize that while certain activities can be done remotely in theory, investment may be needed to make this work in practice. You may need to implement new technology or add a hub location outside your existing property estate, for example.

People aren’t robots Be mindful though that this kind of assessment shouldn’t be a mechanical exercise. Your people aren’t task-completing units that can be slotted into a rigid plan. Just because an activity can be achieved remotely doesn’t mean the individuals involved will want to work that way.

A knowledge worker with a home office may have very different views to someone living in a small, shared apartment with no dedicated workspace. So, while it’s fundamental you base your strategy on data, your decisions should take into account both hard numbers and softer human factors.

The four levels of hybrid readiness Once complete, your analysis will allow you to categorize roles and activities by their location and time dependencies. At a basic level, you’re likely to identify the following four groups:

> Those roles and activities that are not dependent on location

> Those that have partial location dependencies

> Those that could be made flexible with appropriate investment

> Those that are dependent on location

Once you’ve defined all activities according to these groups, you can look at the hybrid readiness of any role and compare this to the preferences of the employees concerned. Where alignment is good, you can begin looking for optimization.

Where there is misalignment, you can consider what trade-offs can be made and whether role redesign is possible (see step 5). In the end, it’s about balancing the needs of the business with employee preferences and wellbeing.

"In a true hybrid workforce model, employers and employees agree that business objectives – the goal of achieving the highest levels of productivity and engagement – are what determine where, when and by whom the work gets done."

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