Hybrid Work

Making hybrid work a success

There was a time when hybrid work was simply a buzzword. Not anymore: few employees want to go in to the office every day to sit in virtual meetings for half the day. And they don’t have to: hybrid work connects the office with remote working and makes us all more flexible, creative and efficient. 

Text: Roger Hausmann, Pictures: Swisscom
September 29, 2022

Mann sitzt in Raum und schaut auf Tablet

According to Microsoft’s «Work Trend Index 2022»(opens in new tab), 80 percent of employees believe they are just as, if not more productive when working from home compared to the office, and also feel healthier and more comfortable. It is little surprise, then, that 70 percent would like to continue enjoying the freedom to work from home and in the office.

Hopes and the fear of losing control

With hybrid work, employees can work efficiently, productively, and in a focused manner at home and interact with their team in the office, maintain relationships, and plan or drive forward joint projects. To many managers, it all sounds too good to be true: 54 percent fear a drop in employee productivity when working from home. In addition, 55 percent of hybrid respondents feel lonelier in their jobs than before the switch. What does it take to meet the needs of employees and dispel the fear of losing control that many managers experience? 

New work is about more than just modern technologies – people are at its heart.

“Agile methods, sprints and tools such as Kanban boards create transparency about the distribution of work and how high employee workload is.” 

Petra Schmidhalter, Future Work Experience team leader, Swisscom 

Four factors to success

Four factors determine the success of hybrid work: technology, spaces and structures that give the people the freedom to further develop the culture and mentality within their company.   

  1. Technology: many companies already have the right technologies in place. Cloud services such as Google Drive and Microsoft SharePoint for secure collaboration as well as the storage and sharing of content from almost all devices, or Cisco Webex and Microsoft Teams for asynchronous communication from anywhere. What do they often still lack? A central employee experience platform for managing this asynchronicity (for example, Microsoft Viva in Teams).
  2. Spaces: With a partial return to the office, spaces have to be rethought. The office is the place where solutions are developed together using agile methods, but also where relationships are maintained and contacts made. This calls for different spatial concepts; for example, meeting rooms for hybrid meetings that also integrate remote workers, focus rooms without curtains, or flexible furniture with multiple functions. The office as a meeting place remains important for identification with the company. 
  3. Structures: A (new) definition of the corporate vision and values is essential for a successful hybrid working world. Based on this foundation, organisations should offer the flexibility to be adaptable, break away from old structures and rethink leadership roles. Project teams can thus be assembled, dissolved and reassembled, bringing together the right competencies for each project, regardless of hierarchies, and giving everyone the opportunity to be a coach.   
  4. People: Finding the right balance between working from home and the office is a process of transformation that fundamentally changes the organisation, processes and culture. Managers have to trust instead of control and need different OKRs (Objectives and Key Results). Employees want to think and act independently and largely manage themselves. A manifesto for leadership roles could promote and support this paradigm shift. Hybrid work provides an opportunity for companies to increase innovation, employee satisfaction and employer attractiveness. This requires a rethinking of management. Leaders should therefore define the company’s vision and values, come to an agreement on physical and virtual collaboration within the team, define the etiquette for hybrid meetings, and rethink how the office environment can support this. 

“It’s important to take the pulse of the workforce. For example, we ask everyone working in the office why they come to the office. We learn a great deal from their answers and adapt our workspaces accordingly.” 

Serge Bärtschi, New Work, Organisation and Staff Development specialist, Swiss Post 

Hybrid working pays

New work in general and hybrid work in particular is more about people and processes than hardware or software. That is why hybrid work is not an IT project, but a change management process. Fewer hierarchies and more personal responsibility present a challenge, but also a unique opportunity for SMEs, start-ups and major corporations alike. These companies will increase their attractiveness as an employer as well as their creativity, productivity and employee loyalty and, on balance, their company success. 

Definition: what is hybrid work?

Hybrid work is more than working some days in the office and some days at home. Hybrid work liberates employees from rigid working hours. People communicate asynchronously in chats instead of synchronously in physical and virtual meetings and share knowledge over internal social networks, giving others an opportunity to develop the ideas further. Read our white paper «New work is the new normal» or discover our new work solutionsthat put your employees front and centre. 

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