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Why hybrid work isn’t hitting the mark and what you can do about it

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why hybrid work is not working
Photo Unplash by Georgie Cobbs

The way we work has already changed over the past few years. The traditional office-centric model is being challenged and it’s not just out of convenience, but because of a growing recognition that flexible working can lead to more inclusive and productive work environments. According to Forbes, remote working boosts access to remote communities — i.e. any place beyond the big cities — which can level the playing field for those with greater hurdles to career success. 

Yet, despite the benefits we see many companies big and small, bringing people back to the office despite a survey by the Western Development Commission finding that “55% of people would “change job if their remote working/hybrid working preferences are not facilitated even if it means less promotion opportunities”. Many CEO’s are cracking down with a “return to the office or else” style of leadership and the results are (exactly what you’d expect), with employees leaving or disengaging.

“Show me a CEO who is mandating back to office. I'm going to show you a guy who has someone else taking care of his kids, has the money to live near work right? Whereas a lot of people don't.” Professor Scott Galloway on Diary of a CEO 

Why is remote work, not ‘working’?

Why are many companies trying to bring employees back to the office, when there are so many benefits to remote and Hybrid Work? 🤔 For many organisations, the shift to either a hybrid and remote work environment has been met with confusion, tension, a struggle to adapt and lack of support for this new way of working and managing for many.

There are lots of answers, but we already know from our blog on Psychological Safety - as a business or leader it's not enough to simply offer remote work options; success requires a thoughtful approach, along with intentionally designing ways of working together when people are not physically together. 

“The heart of the issue is not the concept of remote or hybrid work itself but in our approach to it as a business.”

For most businesses, hybrid and remote work models often fail when they attempt to use office-centric ways of working in new environments. 

For decades, our work cultures have been designed around the 4 walls, random water cooler moments and being able to tap people on the shoulder for a quick conversation or to ask a question. Even something like offering a colleague a cup of tea can lead to relationship-building and a random chat about Barbenheimer  or ice baths. 🥳

While these in-office ways of working can be great and employees remote or hybrid can need more than business as usual connection also. Intentionally designing for flexible work, experimenting with what works and what doesn’t, are all necessary to find the ways of working suitable for 2024 and beyond. Applying in-person ways of working to remote work, just doesn’t work (pun intended).

Tworking’ your way to Hybrid Success

Now that we know that we need to intentionally design specifically for Hybrid and Remote work and that we know it can give employees a better quality of life, can lead to more productivity and can help to reduce stress, commutes and burnout among many other benefits, how do you start redesigning work for hybrid work?

  • Identify what’s working and what’s not: What is your team missing out on right now? What’s working really well? What works for some and not for others? What are the different needs of our teams? How can you be more inclusive? Or give your employees and team members a better work-life balance?

  • Experiment: How do you find balance or create a connected team? Some companies have successfully introduced "anchor days" when the whole team comes together in person. While these days might not be the most productive in traditional terms, when done correctly and intentionally, they're invaluable for maintaining a sense of team connection, sparking creativity, as well as fostering network (one of the greatest losses in remote and hybrid working).

  • Leverage this opportunity: The opportunity to completely change work, people's lives and commutes doesn’t come around often. Rather than listening to those who say “remote working doesn’t work”, think about how you and your company can leverage it and make it a fantastic opportunity for both you and your business.

The challenge for leaders and managers is to intentionally create a culture that supports the unique dynamics of remote and hybrid teams. This includes rethinking how we communicate, build relationships, network, and learn. The goal is not to replicate the office environment but to innovate and find new ways to foster connection and collaboration.

Remote work demands a reimagining of traditional office interactions and an intentional design of our work culture that accommodates the lack of physical proximity. It starts with a willingness to experiment and learn, but, if you're unsure of what to do next, reach out or consider our Hybrid but Better Workbook to help design change in your team that works.

Remember, the key is to experiment and adapt. Ensure there is a regular open mechanism to feedback. What’s working, what’s not, what are we learning, what needs changing and if you need help, reach out or consider purchasing our Hybrid but Better Workbook to help design change in your team that works. 

Learn more about Hybrid but Better workbook here

At A Better Work we work with our clients to make work better and more fulfilling. It's not about happiness, it's about feeling a sense of accomplishment, and building teams that work brilliantly together in good times and bad.

The best bit is all of this is good for your business - for your bottom line, for retention and for customer satisfaction. If you think we can help, reach out for a chat.

Let’s make work better together.

Michelle Wallace


A Better Work


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