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Hybrid working strategy at a company level

5 May 2021
  

A great Hybrid Working Strategy (HWS) will be unique to a business and so, to help you get it right for your business, I thought I’d share some of the key questions.

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been making the most of the easing of restrictions here in the UK and taken the opportunity to meet clients for real world coffees (as much as I like zoom coffees* nothing beats the real world version).

What’s even more exciting is that some of these coffees have been taking place in client offices and, whilst the offices haven’t been full on busy, it has got me thinking more and more about the return to the office and the upcoming advent of a hybrid working world.

Woman working at home with dog next to her

This isn’t the first time I’ve been thinking about hybrid working and hybrid working strategy as it’s a massively important strategic question that I am helping several of my clients with at the moment as they prepare for later in the year. They are all wary of the many pitfalls of getting it wrong that they face (such as loss of productivity, employee unhappiness, having space issues, etc.) but realise that it’s not as simple as saying “We’ll do 3 days in the office and 2 days at home”.

Instead, there are numerous strategic questions that they need to address to really get it right. A great Hybrid Working Strategy (HWS) will be unique to a business and so, to help you get it right for your business, I thought I’d share some of the key questions I work with clients at a company level to address:

  • What are our main drivers for moving to hybrid working? Saying we need to do it because everyone else is doing it isn’t good enough. You have to be clear; is it primarily for cost reasons, employee reasons, brand reasons, client reasons, etc? Until you know the drivers (and are honest about them) you’re not going to design the right solution for your business
  • What do we need to achieve? Your Hybrid Working Strategy should be aligned to your overall vision and strategy. Maybe your overall strategy is to break into a new market or disrupt a certain industry; as such your Hybrid Working Strategy should help, not hinder, that strategy
  • What do our employees/teams want to do? If you’re not thinking about things from your employees’ point of view then you are in danger of getting a strong resistance when you implement your strategy. Perhaps they have specific days they prefer to work from home or a preferred split of time in the office vs time elsewhere (remember remote working does not have to mean work from home). Whilst you don’t need to accommodate their every desire, knowing their views is crucial. Also don’t assume one size fits all, what one team in your business may prefer may be different to another team or function’s preference
  • What do our clients/customers/investors expect from us? There are other important stakeholder groups whose opinions you might want to factor in. These don’t need to dictate the strategy you decide to adopt but in some cases (e.g. clients wanting to be visited in person) this will have a strong bearing on what you implement
  • What is the culture we want to instill across the business? If you’re true to your word, this will be a big consideration. You can’t claim to be progressive and then mandate a 5 day a week in office expectation. You also need to consider whether it’s ok for different teams to have different approaches to hybrid working or if you want all your business units to be aligned
  • What does this mean for our real estate? If you’re making big changes to your Hybrid Working Strategy then you need to factor in the impact on office space. This could mean not needing so much but it also means addressing what happens when you have too many teams trying to use the same space at the same time
  • What does this mean for our processes and policies? In the short term there will likely be new health and safety procedures but more than that you need to think through what the implications of a Hybrid Working Strategy will mean on things like HR policies, employee contracts, facility processes, IT needs, etc.
  • What are the hidden barriers that may derail the HWS? Even with the best intentions, you need to be conscious of what might derail your plans. This could be a resistant culture particularly from senior folk (it’s likely the case that if a boss is in the office then all their reports will start heading in more often too), or poor IT skills making remote working too hard, or an inability to move certain processes to a virtual world, etc.
  • Which are the most vulnerable groups in our business that we need to take particular care of and which periods might we want to flex our Hybrid Working Strategy? There may be certain populations that you might want to have particular focus on when it comes to a HWS. This could be to accommodate a more classic 5 days a week in the office for a set period (e.g. for junior staff or new recruits that would benefit from learning/interacting with others more regularly) or to accommodate a 5 day a week work remotely approach (e.g. those with caring responsibilities or disabilities). In a similar way there may be certain processes that you determine require a change to the Hybrid Working Strategy, for example all recruitment interviews might want to be made from the office
  • How do we best communicate our strategy to the whole business?
    These questions are no way exhaustive but if addressed with reasonable thought and rigor should give you a great start on developing a Hybrid Working Strategy that is perfect your company. Just don’t forget that a great Hybrid Working Strategy is constantly evolving and shouldn’t just address the business you have today but the business you will have going forwards.

Join me in my next blog where I’ll look at the key questions a team within any business should be asking itself when looking to make the leap to Hybrid Working.

Author bio

Faris Aranki

Faris Aranki

Faris is the founder of Shiageto Consulting, an innovative strategy and emotional intelligence consulting firm that specialises in sharpening the effectiveness of businesses and individuals.

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