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There is no doubt that the last two years have left a lasting imprint, fundamentally changing how we define the role of work in our lives. We all have grown dreaming we would one day earn our living by going to work, which meant going to an office that would be away from home. The best place to work according to most of us was a swanky building, plush office & canteen with lots of people.

One thing is clear: We’re not the same people who went to office to work prior to the lockdown. Our experience of working from home during the past two years has definitely changed the priorities of most people, drawing a bright line between what’s important—health, family, time, purpose-and what’s not. As a result, what people want from work and what they’re willing to give in return have changed. The power dynamic is shifting, and perks like free food and a swanky office are no longer what people value most.

Which scenario would you prefer?

Scenario 1: You are asked to come to the office, you get up early, hurry through your breakfast and get stuck in traffic for 60 minutes! You are forced to listen to the incessant honking or maybe just sandwiched in a metro gazing out of the window. You are already drained by the time you reach the office and once you leave the office, the same story continues on the way back.

Scenario 2: You decide to have breakfast on your balcony, while you enjoy the morning breeze. Once done, you walk to your workplace and reach in just 50 steps. You switch on music, open your laptop and get into the grind of the day with a little groove. Throughout the day, every time you take a coffee break you play with your pet, chat with a friend or enjoy the fresh breath of air. You have a productive day at your own comfort and pace, meet the deliverables and wrap up.

We can easily say that Hybrid has bridged the struggle of ‘Work Life Balance’ and replaced it with a harmonious and flexible ‘Work Life Integration’. The hybrid model has proven to be successful for most industries and been a catalyst in process transformations for organisations. Not only have we witnessed a positive financial impact but also an increase in productivity and engagement.

52% of employees prefer a Hybrid Working Model. (Source: Mckinsey Reimagine work: Employee survey, January 2021)

Why should organisations opt for a Hybrid Working Model?

75% of the leaders selected Flexibility as the cornerstone of this shift. A hybrid workplace undoubtedly offers the ease of deciding own pace, timings and even work location.

Since there is no prototype, no best practices, so each to its own principle. What is common is that everyone has first time challenges and is struggling to seek something simpler and process driven.

The plus and minus factors of the hybrid model were discussed in brief as there is already a lot of GG (Google Gyan). We focussed on 4 practical challenges and narrowed them down to the best and most practical solutions after voting for the options.

Who in the organisation decides? Who is the owner of deciding the workspace model?

The ownership of deciding the workplace model, as per majority leaders should be reserved for the Head of the Department. It empowers the Department Head to allocate resources and responsibilities proportionality within the team. However, leaders must keep in mind, that, the decision making of the Head of the Department is influenced by the norms of the industry and the ways of working should be agreed upon between the manager and employee – for the model to work.

How to hack the hybrid mode?

The pandemic has exposed us to the pros and cons of the hybrid model. On the one hand, the boundaries are blurred, giving more room to vectors like ownership and autonomy, while on the other, if not leveraged rightfully it could lead to an increased cross over effect and disengagement.

To leverage the Hybrid Model, organisations need to center and strengthen their focus around the 5C Framework. While organisations have decoded coordination during the pandemic, with multiple tools and methods, the 5Cs have been deep dived here.

How do you take care of this 5Cs?

Communication: In a hybrid setup, communication is focal to keeping employees connected and informed. A virtual meeting puts everyone at the same level and that is how communication should happen – without hierarchies. In fact, communication is the foundation of a hybrid set up.

Initiatives are taken by various companies.

  • Robust communication through video snippets, posters and emails.

  • More Agenda driven meetings and less update-driven meetings.

  • Core values should be at the core and act as key drivers in all initiatives

  • Unpick ‘Good to have’ against ‘must to have’

Points to remember:

  • Don’t overdo and don’t force fit values into communication.

  • Emphasize ‘Walk the Talk’

Connection: Connection is different from Coordination and Communication. For employees, it is oscillating between home and office, with emphasis to be put on social connections and feeling connected to the organisation.

Some Initiatives being taken by various companies to connect:

  • Coffee connects for Managers and Employees at a personal level

  • Quarterly offsite lunches with the team

  • Goodies for new joiners and on special occasions

  • Friends at Work.

Points to remember:

  • Employees relate to Managers the most, hence Manager training to instigate a feeling of togetherness at each stage is imperative.

  • Encourage Individual Social Responsibility – what does the brand do differently than others

  • Creativity – Inducing creativity in a hybrid setup could be difficult with a lack of stimulus. This is true for organisations as well; however, this lack of creativity in people initiatives can make the workplace mundane and demotivate people.

Some initiatives are taken by companies to encourage creativity:

  • Paint your own workplace

  • Got Talent with Awards

  • Choose your Mentor for the day

  • Design your own calendar

  • Points to remember –

  • Encourage and leverage out-of-the-box thinking

  • Challenge the status quo.

Culture: Similar to creativity, integrating and resonating with culture is a continued challenge in a hybrid workplace, in the absence of a physical workplace and colleagues. Culture integration is critical even more so for new joiners and remote joiners.

Some initiatives are taken by companies to build a cohesive and community-driven culture:

  • Monday Boosters – Share your experiences of the weekend

  • Storytelling – Inspirational stories by Business Leaders. - what did I learn?

The goal of Personal Achievement of the week:

  • 360-degree feedback session – Employees share 360-degree feedback with their colleagues.

  • Identify Culture captains and value ambassadors

  • Leverage gamification to reinforce culture

  • Tuesdays and Fridays shut down at 5.30 and no meetings on Wednesdays.

Points to remember :

  • Ensure inclusivity and equity between remote and physical workers

  • Organisations should clarify ‘what they are not’ as much as ‘what they are’.

  • More emphasis on Culture during induction of new employees

Hybrid Model - may not fit all

Customization is key for the moment with different permutations & combinations.

Key findings from the HR & Business Leaders of Delhi-NCR Elite CXO Club meeting held on May 21, 2022, to discuss present/future challenges, ideate and develop smart solutions on the topic - Hybrid Workplace

The Elite Group of HR SUCCESS TALK

Hybrid Work space

Workshop - 20th July, 2022

Participation: HR & Business Leaders

Convened by: Rashmi Mansharamani

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