The heart of the hybrid
Two years ago hybrid probably conjured mental images of cars powered by both electricity and fossil fuel. More recently hybrid is the word on most leaders’ and employees’ lips as a descriptor for our workplaces going forward.
What’s interesting here is that if we strip back to the basic meaning of hybrid – anything of mixed origin or composition, or the combination of two or more different things – then the blend of unique individuals that make up an organisation mean the organisation itself is a hybrid.
What we’re really thinking about then is working differently in this hybrid world…in a way that’s effective, productive, engaging and meaningful to those employed and those the organisation serves.
So what’s at the heart of the hybrid working discourse that has spawned thousands of column inches and consumed much airtime? Research has delved into the impact of homeworking on organisational efficiency, on employee engagement, on employee well-being, and, having experienced an alternative, into people’s preferences as to where and how they work.
Whatever the combinations of where and how that emerge this is about more than structural changes. That means deep consideration of four key aspects:
- People – what is going to make them feel most satisfied, fulfilled, empowered and productive? Only by engaging them in the discussion and design can we get to a solution in which people feel they have a say and a stake.
- Leadership – how well equipped are leaders to manage what will feel more like a mosaic than a complete picture? Emotional resilience, deep reserves of empathy and a willingness to loosen the reins of control will be needed to keep people connected, empowered and foster their sense of belonging and being valued wherever they’re working.
- Culture – how strong and magnetic is it now? And what needs to be reinforced or amplified? This is about understanding what attracts people over distance as well as close up and continually investing in those factors?
- Purpose – why does the business exist and what is its contribution to the world? This fourth aspect is perhaps the most important guiding and empowering the right decisions and actions for leaders and employees and providing the powerful magnet at the heart of culture.
In the scramble to get the where and how equation right we must not lose focus on the somewhat trickier human dimensions of the hybrid opportunity.