Hybrid Work: Four Things To Consider

In the May-June publication of Harvard Business Review, London Business School professor Lynda Gratton provides an in-depth look at her research on the impact Covid-19 is having on work arrangements.

I highly recommend reading her excellent article,“How To Do Hybrid Right” for the complete picture. I will summarize her four key findings here for those who wish to have a more top line overview. Lynda has led the Future of Work Consortium for over 10 years, with a focus on researching future trends.

The challenge she’s identified is that moving to a hybrid model (anytime/anywhere) will only succeed if its built with human needs in mind, not just organizational ones. I could not agree more. The former ensures the changes made will be in sync with the company’s culture, not just layering new ways onto existing poor practices. No matter where you sit in a company, this type of information may be useful to understand and/or or share with your colleagues, up or downstream.

According to Gratton’s research, making the transition to a successful hybrid model will require that managers consider four perspectives:

  1. Jobs and Tasks.  When considering jobs and tasks, understanding the productivity drivers for each is key (ex.energy, coordination, cooperation, and focus).  Managers can then take a closer look at various roles and best match them to time and place needs (ex. anywhere 9-5 vs. anywhere, anytime).
  2. Employee Preferences. Hybrid work design needs to consider the preferences of the individual. For example, a 45yr old parent living an hour from the office (with children in school) may be most productive working from home.  Their 26yr old colleague living with roommates in the downtown core may desire more time at the office, to focus and build relationships.
  3. Projects and Workflows. How work gets done in your organization is a major component of a successful rollout. Now is the perfect time to re-assess whether existing workflows are efficient, or need to change and adapt to the times. Leaders at a retail bank (part of the Future of Work Consortium) analyzed their workflows using these three questions:
    • Are any team tasks redundant (ex. meetings)?
    • Can any tasks be automated or reassigned to people outside the team?
    • Can we reimagine a new purpose for our place of work?
  4. Inclusion and Fairness.  Gratton indicates that this is vitally important. Research shows that feelings of unfairness at work can damage productivity and retention, reduce collaboration, and increase burnout.  Pre-covid, work arrangements were often left to the discretion of individual managers, creating a wide variation of experiences for employees (and plenty of resentment).  Moving forward, creating a level playing field for all will be important.

Thanks to Lynda Gratton for sharing her timely research.  You can read the full article here.