With organizations beginning to contemplate what a hybrid work environment looks like, we invited a panel of leaders to share their thoughts and advice regarding hybrid work and what the future of the office could hold.
1 What does hybrid work mean?
Hybrid work is new to some and a practiced approach for others. Ashley Porciuncula, Co-founder of Orbital Chat, made a great point when thinking about the definition.
“If you ask 10 people what “Hybrid Work” means, you’ll probably get 10 answers! That’s what’s so great… It is what you make of it! To traditionally office-based staff, it’s anything that’s outside the norm of being in an office 9-5 Monday to Friday. The best hybrid teams allow employees to decide where they work best and set them up for success in those environments. For some, that’s a central office. For many others, it might be a home office, a mobile workspace, or some combination during the week.”
Flexibility of locations and workplaces was brought up as a key feature of hybrid work and ensuring a successful setup for all employees.
“Hybrid work is all about flexibility. Flexibility for individuals to do their best work anywhere while still enabling organizations to thrive. Hybrid also comes in a variety of flavors, something I wrote about earlier this year.”
– Jon Sadow, Co-founder of Scoop
2 What are some benefits of having the option of working remotely or in-office?
Most of us have experienced working both in an office pre-pandemic and shifting quickly to remote. But what happens when we are given the option of choosing where we work best? We asked our experts.
“We’ve learned that productive people can be productive anywhere, and often more so when they are empowered to place themselves where they can work the most effectively.”
– Chad Carlson, Co-founder of The Nook App
The benefits of having the option of where to work differ for everyone. Lizelle van Vuuren, Co-founder & CMO at Undock, listed examples of benefits with hybrid work.
“Benefits of remote work and a hybrid workplace are first and foremost an opportunity for people to have more wellness stitched into their daily/ weekly work schedules. No commute, less stress, parents get some time back, and more productivity days.”
3 What tools are needed to support a hybrid workplace?
It’s important to level the playing field for all employees, regardless of where they are located. That may mean integrating new tools to ensure seamless communication for those working remotely and in-office.
“Tools like @fellowapp will be really helpful for meeting notes to make sure everyone is on the same page, no matter where you are!”
– Alexandra Sunderland, Engineering Manager at Fellow.app
Use a meeting management tool like Fellow to ensure everyone is on the same page, regardless of their working location!
Jon Sadow listed four primary categories that companies should have in order to thrive:
- “Safety & Compliance: Employers need to be able to create a safe and productive work environment for their employees.
- Capacity & Attendance: Companies need to manage and set workplace capacity, automatically assign the right desks (or flex space) for employees, and easily access data to make informed investments in the workplace.
- Team Coordination: Employees want their office time to be productive, which means they need to know who else is coming in on what days, and what their team/managers’ expectations are for their own attendance.
- People Insights: Ultimately hybrid work is a people strategy, which means organizations need the data to evaluate how it impacts everything from engagement to retention to promotion equality.”
Lastly, Lizelle van Vuuren points out that behind any successful organization is one thing – leadership.
“At the heart of a successful hybrid work model is leadership. No tool stack can solve for remote and hybrid work if leadership is not empowering teams with understanding, tools, process, communication, and clarity.”
4 How do you ensure all of your team members and employees are considered and included no matter where they live or work?
Many companies are still navigating what hybrid means for their employees.
“Admit to employees that are going to test x for x months then rethink. Admit that you do not have the perfect answer yet. Dropbox does a really good job of communicating this to their employees.”
– Laura Beales, Co-founder of Tally Market
Hilary Smith, Head of Marketing at Corpay One, emphasized the need for visibility of all team members.
“Ensure every face can be seen on a screen and time is given to those calling in. Talking into a conference room isn’t ideal in everyday meetings and can be intimidating. Make sure the remote team is heard and welcomed!”
5 How can managers and leadership be trained and prepared to manage in a hybrid work environment?
For those managing hybrid teams, things may be different than usual. We asked our experts for their best advice on being a successful manager in this new environment.
“First, it’s important for everyone on a team, not just managers, to be on board with WHY the company supports hybrid work. This builds empathy for those who need it, and helps everyone understand the underlying goal. Next, people need to observe their superiors taking advantage of hybrid work, at least occasionally. This will reduce the risk of stigma forming around it, and helps them know that you’ve offered them the option, and you meant it!”
– Ashley Porciuncula
It’s important to lead by example as leaders so that each of your team members feel comfortable and confident in choosing whichever way they work best. Being transparent and personally practicing working both in an office and remote shows your team either option is acceptable and not preferred. Manuela Barcenas, Marketing Manager at Fellow, further emphasizes this point.
“One potential issue with hybrid work is that employees who work in the office at the same time as managers and leadership may be perceived as more “dedicated”. Leaders have to be very intentional about this, making sure all employees get the same attention and opportunities.”
6 What are some best practices to run hybrid meetings?
As more organizations begin to explore hybrid environments, we believe it’s important to share our knowledge and best practices so we can all learn from each other. Here are some best practices our panelists had to offer.
“Our management team recently agreed on these:
– Avoid back to back meetings
– Diarise the time you need not the default 30/60 mins
– Don’t assume everyone can continue if your meeting is running over
– Avoid the ‘second call’ by confirming any actions agreed”
– Suzi Archer
Jon Sadow shared a do/don’t list for hybrid meetings:
– Invest in the right A/V and internet setup, both in-office + at home
– Make sure whiteboards are virtual if collaborating and/or fully visible to virtual participants if presented
– Make time for hellos & small talk for virtual folks (not just when walking in the room!)
– Let meetings always be led by in-office folks
– Have side or follow-up conversations during or after the meeting without documenting in the meeting notes!
– Jump into a room” for a chat without including virtual stakeholders”
7 What advice would you give to organizations that are contemplating adopting a hybrid work model to their organizations?
Lastly, our panelists shared what approach we all need to consider with hybrid. Laura Beales reminded us that change is good.
“Don’t be afraid to embrace change and try things, a lot of companies are moving back to paying for 7-day offices when the reality is they know that they no longer need this space. Think about the opportunity alternatives can bring.”
Alexandra Sunderland mentioned what we should all keep top of mind as we approach this ‘new normal’.
“Start by doing a lot of listening to the broader company and the people on your team. Ask them what their needs are, what they want, and how they see the future and any challenges. Ask early and often, over calls and in surveys too. Be human-first.”
Hilary Smith focused on the beginning of an employees journey through onboarding and building a strong team.
“Focus on strong onboarding so you can help set expectations and get new team members integrated right away – no matter where they sit. Invest in people who are solid communicators, organizers, and all-around team players.”
Thank you to our panelists for their participation and well-thought-out answers. Stay tuned for the next #ManagerChats topic that will be announced soon!