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The 3 Pillars of Hybrid Work

We must ask ourselves what the wishes are of the respective employees. Hardly anyone will want to work at home all week and many people will not be in the office all week either. Our own research on LinkedIn also shows that the majority of digital employees would like to work hybrid. BakkerElkhuizen has defined 3 pillars and corresponding elements for a well-organised Hybrid Working policy.

Culture and leadership
Culture and collaboration
One of the questions we need to ask is, ‘what does our future corporate culture look like and how do we create it?’. Organisations need to think about the values and culture and the interactions, practices and rituals that foster this culture. For example, a company focused on talent development should ask whether the moments of mentoring that take place in the office can be continued spontaneously in a digital world. Other practices can be reconstructed and enhanced so that the organisation creates and maintains the community and culture it seeks. The redesign and reconstruction of processes and practices will serve as the foundation for an improved operating model that makes the most of both in-office and remote work.

A final question is ‘how important is collaboration and teamwork in the organisation?’. By answering these questions, your organisation can better determine how to set up the hybrid model.

Coaching and corporate health
Health is directly linked to employee creativity and productivity. Currently, there is a downward health trend based on the practices we adopt as a result of working from home. At home and in the office, we work in unfamiliar workplaces that are not designed to meet individual needs as they once were. Can we teach people how to design their workplaces so that they can feel comfortable in the future? We no longer have the overview and control over working environments that we once had, so it is much more difficult to ensure that employees are taking ergonomics into consideration. To implement a structural and effective policy in this area, we need to think about the loss of coaching and corporate health that normally took place at physical work sites. Coaching and the stimulation of personal responsibility and remote monitoring of corporate health is becoming a new standard.
Organisation
Workplaces
When offices are permitted to welcome employees, the Hybrid Working model allows employers to be more flexible with regard to remote working arrangements. Communication, transparency and planning become vital, and it becomes common for people to want to work from home one or more days a week. It becomes important to ensure that employees are aware of the working practices of colleagues to ensure that meetings and collaboration are planned at optimum times and run efficiently.

An obvious reason for offering remote working on a structural basis is to reduce the floor space required and thus save costs. This could also be a sensible strategy to help offset the effects of greater social distance on space.

Research by UBS shows that although offering the opportunity to work from home can contribute to the well-being of employees, not everyone is equal in this scenario. Having a comfortable space to work from home is not something that everyone has access to. This can be detrimental to those who do not have this option available to them.
 


Processes
Before we can (re)design the (home) office, we have to ask ourselves a number of questions.
  • How successful is our existing remote working strategy?
  • Which components of our work cannot be done remotely?
  • At which workplace are our employees most productive?
  • Do we need to monitor the work intensity of our employees?
  • How do we achieve personal contact at a distance and maintain our corporate culture?
  • How do we protect the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) strategy?
Restructure how the work is done
Organisations must identify and completely redesign the key processes for each major business unit, geographic area and function, often with employee involvement. In doing so, companies should look at their professional development paths (e.g., being physically present in the office at the beginning and working remotely later) and the different phases of projects (e.g., being physically present for initial planning and working remotely for execution).

By being forced to work remotely, organisations experimented and learned. They became more agile, without committing to a new programme or manifesto. They learned how to work around the agile principle of co-location. Instead of having team members meet in the same room, technology solutions were devised so that they were in the same virtual space - and daily agile ceremonies (such as standups and checkouts) could be done remotely. This proves that agile methodologies make it possible to be productive remotely.
Systems and locations
Employers' insights
Employers do not always have an overview of how the home office or mobile workplace is designed. The office workplace is also changing. How do we ensure that everyone is able to work in a healthy, satisfied and safe manner?

First of all, it is important to consider whether the changes in the way we work mean changes in the way workplaces are furnished. More flexible workplace solutions (Desksharing), more meeting rooms, creative brainstorming spaces and tools that can be used both at home and in the office (keyboard, mouse and laptop stand).

Organisations could create workspaces specifically designed to support the kinds of interactions that cannot take place remotely. If providing space for specific moments of collaboration rather than individual work is the primary purpose of space in an organisation, shouldn't 80 per cent of the office be devoted to collaborative spaces? For example, organisations can ask all employees who work in cubicles and rarely need to attend group meetings to work from home. If office space is only needed for those who cannot work from home, are co-working spaces near employees’ homes a better solution?

In the office of the future, technology will play a central role in enabling employees to return to the office and work safely. Organisations will need to manage which employees can come into the office, when they can come in and take their place, how often the office is cleaned, whether the airflow is adequate and whether they keep enough distance as they move around the space.

To sustain productivity, collaboration and corporate culture, the boundaries between being physically in the office and being out of the office must disappear. Always-on video conferencing, seamless collaborative spaces (such as virtual whiteboards), both in person and remotely, and asynchronous collaboration and work models will quickly move from futuristic ideas to standard practices.



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