Like new business ideas, new workplace concepts sound crazy the day before a breakthrough or in this case, a pandemic. Soon after, people begin to see real world use cases that get them excited and make them feel safe. During the pandemic, many organizations had the opportunity to tame the skepticism and learn how they can remain productive, or in some cases, increase productivity, fuel growth, and strengthen margins while working remotely. So, now as we get closer to what all of us hope is the end of the pandemic, companies are faced with a new challenge: how to bring people back to work. 

Let’s take a step back for a moment. This is not going to be a simple, light task. I’ll go as far as saying that this is the go-to strategy for 2021. The players that execute properly will thrive and the players that execute poorly will get hurt. Every decade or year has a main focus or strategy, for example: the 80’s was about the pc/software strategy, 90-00 was about the internet strategy, 00-04 was about the search strategy, 04-12 was about the social strategy, 12 -18 was about the camera strategy, 2019 was all about the AI/AR/VR/voice strategy, 2020 was all about the survival strategy + digital strategy, and now in 2021, I believe it will be the hybrid work strategy. Top executives have confirmed that the future of work is hybrid, and many companies are shifting to hybrid work models for all roles that aren’t essential to perform on-site. But, why do so many companies lack a vision for hybrid work? According to McKinsey, 68% of companies have no detailed plan communicated or in place for handling hybrid work. 

To execute on the “hybrid work strategy”, thoughts around when and how to do this safely is a top concern, however, consideration around whether employees want to come back at all is very important as well.  

In my opinion, roles and sectors matter when approaching this conversation, however, organizations need to have open and transparent conversations when creating policies that are flexible, collaborative, balance virtual/in-person work, and give employees choice. For example: if employees would like to return to the office, they can. If employees would like to relocate to a different office, they can. If employees can and would like to continue to work remotely, they can. The goal is to have and maintain a happy group of employees who feel safe and are enthusiastic to work.

The pandemic has shown that many of us have enjoyed the flexibility of working from home because we were not shackled to a desk or have had the opportunity to invest our break time on household chores versus cooler talk and/or browsing on our phones. The right solution might look different for individual team members, but one thing is true – the old model of “one size fits all” is only getting older. I think the past year has shown that in many cases, there are far better ways to work. And to be frank, isn’t that the goal? To do better? Flexibility and choice, something has already been running with for our workforce for the past 7 years, is all about doing the very best work while having fun, and this comes from the autonomy provided with a hybrid workplace environment. But, it’s not only fun, it’s about investing your time where you want and living life on your terms, in addition to being part of an organization with a deep and aligned purpose. This is what the workforce will demand moving forward.

With that said, a hybrid work model gives employees more freedom regarding when they can work and where they can work from, and allows them to engage in microtransactions online, as well as deeper interactions in person. This increased flexibility, choice and autonomy for employees allows them to fit work around the rest of their lives. All in all, this improves employee satisfaction while increasing productivity and quality of work.

But for this to work, we need to keep a few things in mind:

Employers need to create a hybrid workplace. In order to do this, they need to invest in better recruitment strategies and tools. They need to hire the best. By hiring the best, you can trust that they will not abuse the autonomy, and work with high standards and reliability. They need to invest in strong technology that will streamline communication and increase collaboration in order to ensure corporate alignment. 

Employees need to understand that this is not a free for all. Hybrid work is not easier. There will be pressures to perform, and more accountability. There will be many times when work overlaps with life, so you’ll need to embrace work life harmony in order to actively manage your personal calendar and work. Also, hybrid work means engaging in a “Results-Only Work Environment”. Employers will be focused on results and performance more than ever, and demand that you put in that invisible work that is being done when no one is watching. This will take extreme discipline, commitment and time management skills. In my opinion, hybrid work will raise the bar to deliver with high standards. Great teams, moving forward, will be made up of great people, all of whom contribute and communicate extremely well. It won’t be enough to check the boxes and meet expectations. In a hybrid work environment, employees will need to make contributions that move the needle for the business – something that is visibly and meaningfully core to what drives value.

In the end:

My tips for employees: Know how to manage your day and time better. How? 

  1. Start early.
  2. Communicate better. 
  3. Take initiative to ensure you’re aligned with your team and organization.
  4. Stay committed to your calendar and block off non-negotiables to avoid burnout. (ex. Dinner with my fam).

My tip for employers as mentioned in a previous blog:

The truth is, if you don’t have people, you don’t have a business. So, as businesses start bringing employees back into the physical workplace, they’ll need to understand that everyone’s comfort level will be a little different, so you need to plan for that slowly, diligently and positively.

Tweet me and let me know what you think.