Ready to Start your Culture Shift?

Get in touch and transform your culture today.

Reach out using the form below and we’ll respond as soon as possible. We appreciate your interest.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Which Hybrid Work Model Is Best for Your Organization?

Hybrid is a spectrum – not a single model.

By Gustavo Razzetti

March 2, 2022

The 5 Hybrid and Remote Work Models for Your Business

Many companies say, “We're going hybrid,” but it’s not really clear what they mean. Hybrid is a spectrum – from companies requiring people to show up three specific days a week to others shutting down all offices but one. Defining your model is critical to succeed in a hybrid workplace. Most importantly, include people in the process.

When the pandemic hit, the change management team at GoTo! acknowledged that it was critical to empathize with employees. They conducted a series of company-wide interviews to understand the different challenges. As a result, they uncovered six working personas: Working as a new hire, Working individually, Working with other adults, Working with young children, Working with school children, and Working while caring for adults.

As Douglas Flory told me: “The six personas landed really well when we shared them with employees. We created emojis for each and people started using them in Slack, creating empathy and great conversations about the specific challenges each group was facing.” This approach strengthened belonging and confirmed the importance of involving people in the journey. When GoTo! went remote-first, the company used the personas to inform its decision and help employees adapt to the new model.

Start by understanding the 5 different types of hybrid and remote work models. Review the pros, cons and implications.

1. Remote-Friendly or “Office First”:

People are still expected to work from the office most of their time . There are guardrails dictating which employees can work remotely and on which days (usually one or two). Remote requests need to be approved by managers. It usually has a structured approach for everyone. Like when Apple expected everyone to return to the office and work three days a week in person and two remotely.

Remote-friendly is an improved version of the pre-pandemic workplace. However, it’s a frustrating model that reflects the gap between what senior leaders want and what people expect.

2. Fixed Hybrid or “Buckets”:

The organization predetermines a set of categories – employees work according to the one they fall into. Leadership usually defines these buckets and employees don’t have much of a say. For example, Citigroup categorized all jobs into three groups: “resident,” “remote,” or “hybrid.” In some roles like branch-based or data centers employees are expected to be fully in the office (“resident”).

The downside of this model is that it creates an unequal workplace – some people have a lot of freedom and flexibility while others have none. Also, many of the assumptions behind the categories are based on how people used to work rather than exploring what the future could look like.

HubSpot has also defined three buckets (@office, @flex, and @home) but allows employees to choose the one that works best for them.

3. Partly Remote or “Collaboration Days”:

Employees are expected to work on-site the majority of their time but have the flexibility to work a few days remotely. Unlike in Remote-Friendly, teams can choose when those remote days happen.

Google defined that most employees would spend three collaboration days at the office and two days working from home. The problem with this model is that it’s still office-centric – although it provides more flexibility to the teams, it assumes that people need to be together to do great work. Most importantly, collaboration is structured around a schedule rather than a project or the different modes of work.

4. Flexible Hybrid or Flexible Schedule:

In this model, employees can choose both their working hours and location. It provides agency for teams to organize around work, integrating individual and collective preferences.

The biggest challenge of this model is that’s less predictable – for example, in assessing needs such as office space. It can also promote proximity bias. However, there are many tools we discussed before to increase belonging and participation. Moreover, the team aligns on when and why they get together based on the different collaboration modes.

Twitter adopted this model, allowing employees to work from home or the office – partially or full-time.

5. Remote-First or Virtual-First:

In this model, remote work is the default mode for all employees. The company may retain certain office space for special occasions, such as events or design sprints. All employees are expected to work remotely most of their time. Leaders, too.

Although it offers schedule flexibility, it’s less flexible than Flexible Hybrid – working mostly from the office is not an option. This is a huge downside, especially for non-tech companies – forcing everyone to work entirely remote can backfire. Also, some people prefer working from the office for the majority of their time because of their personalities or lack of proper home office space.  

Dropbox adopted the “virtual-first” model while keeping offices in all their locations and hubs. Their offices, now known as “Studios,” are collaborative team-building spaces.

Which of the types of hybrid work models is best for you?

Flexible-Hybrid and Remote-First are the best options as they address people’s expectations. Employees want to design their work schedule around their personal lives – not the other way around. Most importantly, it provides the autonomy, trust, and accountability needed to thrive in the new work reality. For example, GoTo! hired new leaders in key roles who wouldn’t have been found if the company had asked them to relocate and work from the office.

Review the different models and select the one that works for you. Involve people along the journey. Define what hybrid really means to your organization.

As Organizational Psychologist Tasha Eurich told me: “Smart organizations openly talk about what it means to be a hybrid organization. They make it explicit, emphasizing the value of both remote and in-person collaboration.” Provide agency, allow people to make choices on how and when they want to work. As Eurich recommends, “As long as they are doing their work well, we should give our teams the opportunity to have the best of both worlds.”

1. Be clear: What does hybrid mean to your company? Choose your hybrid model wisely.

2. Define how the approach will affect the different areas. For example, manufacturing fully in-person, but legal and marketing are flexible hybrid.

3. Clarify which arrangements will be made at a company level and the flexibility that teams and individuals have.

4. Encourage your team to review the 6 work modes to design their workday around collaboration, not just schedules

5. Review all your workflows: Will existing workflows work if you don’t have 100% of the people at the office all the time? Design clear norms and rules that cover specific areas such as communication, and hiring (more on that later).

6. Revisit how decisions are made. A hybrid workplace requires distributing decision-making rights

7. Monitor progress. Adapt your model based on learnings from the different teams and iterate.

8. Make sure leaders model the right behavior.

Remote work makes it more imperative to explicitly define how each element of work happens, being more intentional on communication, documentation, and collaboration. Darren Murphy, Head of Remote at GitLab, told me: “Leaders are too much focused on structuring informal conversation at the expense of not paying attention at structuring operations.”

Making that shift is easier said than done. Leaders act as gatekeepers instead of culture curators – the assumptions they hold about people harm autonomy. To thrive in a hybrid workplace, your team requires the trust and freedom to choose how they want to work.

My new book Remote, Not Distant is out in June – join the waitlist and be the first to know.

What do you think?

Comments

Previous

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

Next

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

Let Innovation Thrive

Related Posts

How to Create an Ownership Mentality Within Your Team

Read More

Want Happier Employees? Build a Culture of Trust

Read More

The Problem With an Always Urgent Workplace Culture

Read More
view all Posts
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

All rights reserved. © 2020 Fearless Culture

Privacy Policypowered by psychoactive studios
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.