One of the lasting consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic is that the nature of what we understand as the “office” has changed. I would argue that we’re merely at the end of the beginning, however, in the evolution of the workplace. I see four distinct stages to the way we view where we work, and we are squarely in the middle of the continuum of the framework that I’ve developed to interpret these shifts (see below).
The “future” of work is already here, but it’s been negotiated in real-time. The pivot to Hybrid workplaces is a tectonic shift, but we’re also in a liminal space that is confusing for workers and leaders alike. The truth is we’re not even ready for what’s already happened.
Understandably, leaders are preoccupied with the immediate problem of standing up a Hybrid workspace in real-time. This adaptation won’t be straightforward, as everything from office workflows and technology platforms to performance evaluations will have to evolve. There’s no question that “Hybrid” is an obstacle to be overcome right now.
But it’s also an opportunity to be leveraged. When well-orchestrated, a Hybrid workplace makes a whole range of improvements possible. I call the sum total of these improvements the HIBRID DividendTM :
- Providing working flexibility increases employee engagement, energizes your workforce and reduces turnover.
- Removing location from the equation allows for a more diverse, inclusive and equitable workforce.
- Reducing the latent hierarchical nature of office-based work empowers more of your team to “lead from anywhere”, ensuring that your organization is leveraging more of its most valuable asset: its’ people.
- When a firm succeeds in unlocking more of its workforce’s brain power and abilities, organizations increase their overall collective intelligence.
- When more diverse people – and especially more diverse viewpoints – are engaged and involved, groups make better decisions.
- Finally, when companies consistently make better decisions and tap into more of their collective intelligence, they produce better outcomes: higher sales, bigger profits, larger market share.
Whether you realize it or not, you’re in a race. This isn’t just important; it’s also urgent. There is a huge opportunity for the first organizations to get Hybrid right. If managed thoughtfully, Hybrid workplaces can excite your workforce and turbocharge a team’s performance. Given the primacy of human capital in our information economy, those that succeed in meeting this moment will reap enormous rewards in the twin marketplaces of ideas and talent.