An article on hybrid work by HSM CEO and Founder Lynda Gratton is the front cover of the latest edition of Harvard Business Review.
The article reframes one of this year’s key preoccupations – the question of what work will look like from now on – as we face a once in a lifetime opportunity to reset the way we work by shedding unhelpful patterns and establishing helpful new ones. Here are some of Lynda’s tips for crafting a successful hybrid work approach.
Understand place vs. time. The role of the office might be front of our minds right now, but it is important to remember that when people work is just as important as where. In the past, “flexible working” meant one of two things: either that people were freed from working set hours, or that they were freed from working in a set place. In a successful hybrid model, they need to be freed from both.
Clearly define jobs and tasks. The question of whether remote working helps or hinders productivity hinges on one question: which critical driver of productivity is most important right now? For example, someone whose role revolves around planning tasks may be more productive when working in undisturbed stretches: their key productivity driver is focus. Those in creative or innovative roles where cooperation is the key driver of productivity need regular opportunities to interact with others in shared spaces that allow for both free-form, serendipitous encounters and more formalised blocks of time.
Understand how work gets done. It is tempting – and seemingly easier – to layer new hybrid workflows processes onto existing ones. But in doing so, we may end up inheriting some of the mistakes of the past. Instead, it is worth interrogating whether existing workflows deliver value in the new world. Does your team need a meeting for status updates or can team members provide these using digital tools in their own time? How should we use face time and office time from now on? Putting the work in now to answer questions such as these will save a lot of time later on.
Promote fairness. The way organisations design their hybrid working approach is an important opportunity to increase fairness. While differing productivity drivers mean that a one-size-fits-all approach is unlikely to work, creating a clearly defined organisational policy that helps employees understand the criteria around flexible working and prioritises their need to make their own choices is crucial to a culture of fairness.
Finally, successful hybrid working means putting people at the centre. Age, role, lifestyle, family responsibilities and time in their role can significantly influence the way someone needs to work. Engaging employees in the hybrid working design process – and ensuring that they can see how these arrangements will enhance their working lives – is vital. Training line managers to lead hybrid teams will help ensure old habits don’t encroach on new working models. Above all, ensuring that your chosen approach accentuates your organisational culture and values will ensure you are fit for the future.
You can read Lynda’s article – a must for anyone planning a hybrid working model – on the Harvard Business Review website here.