As we grapple with the worst pandemic of our generation, it has also opened new avenues and fast tracked innovations that was to take place few years down the line. It is heartening to see the way organizations have come to terms with the new reality & adapting to new ways of conducting business. The initial premise of remote working was driven by pandemic isolation and largely focused on Work from Home (WFH) construct. With time, new flavors have emerged, whereby WFH is replaced by Work from Anywhere (WFA). In some organizations, it is further extended to Work from Anywhere & Anytime (WFAA).
Does this mean, the traditional office spaces have become redundant? Maybe not. The concept of WFAA nicely blends into the thinking of hybrid workplace model, which provides organizations and its people a platform to choose what works best for the given situation.
Technology is the backbone of the new work ecosystem. However, it needs to be supported by a culture that makes it real for people to experience and be at their best. Though there is a long list, to begin with, here are some simple, yet effective cultural shifts that would shape the “Hybrid Future of Work”.
Command & Control to Empowerment
Move from hierarchical leadership to networked leadership. Unlike an office setup, where all the team members were together; in the new work ecosystem, it is important that trust & empowerment becomes integral to the way leaders manage teams. Productivity is often measured by the number of hours spent at the desk and often compared with others from an effort perspective.
In the new normal, leaders should focus on setting the vision & allow team members to shape their work themselves and be accountable for the outcome.
Embracing servant leadership would be a key differentiator in this context.
Frequent & Transparent Communication
The Workplace experience and interactions are increasingly becoming digital. In the virtual ecosystem, transparency and the speed of communication is going to be a key driver in binding teams together towards the common purpose.
In a physical office setup, people had multiple sources like water cooler moments, social connects, tea breaks etc. to get frequent updates, besides formal channels like quarterly town halls. In a distributed team setup, lack of informal communication sources necessitates the need for managers to setup frequent virtual connects to keep the team members engaged & connected. Few organizations have weekly “open houses” with their teams to allow people to ask questions and share company level updates. Quarterly town halls is replaced with monthly or fortnightly connects. Besides that there are plethora of tech tools like MS-Teams, which offers platform for people to share information real-time and generate views in a flash.
The emphasis is on two-way communication via open dialogue and feeds in the culture of open & transparent exchange of thoughts.
Fixed Time to Flexible Work Time ( 9 to 5 is a passé)
In the new work environment, people are expected to operate from home more than ever. This demands a balance between work & personal life. In an office setup, people had two distinct environment – office for work & home for personal life. With no such demarcation in the new work setup, it calls for a culture that trusts people and allows them flexibility to determine work schedules; not feeling pressured to be “ON” always. Few organizations have relaxed the rules of fixed office time and given the choice to the individual and the team to determine the work schedule that best helps address individual needs and that of the team.
In summary, hybrid future of work is evolving at a rapid pace. Companies embracing faster will have a competitive advantage in driving business growth. For employees, it is going to offer the best of both work & the choice of workplace. Technology innovations & cultural shifts are going to be the key cornerstones of success in the new normal. Looking forward to exciting times ahead!