One Size Does Not Fit All: Hybrid work is here to stay; how you can turn this from a temporary measure into a long-term strategy.

Author(s): Nick Kozlo

The need to update the Directive on Telework to allow for more flexibility when determining who can work remotely and when, presents a golden opportunity to ensure leaders are equipped to leverage the benefits of hybrid work.

Throughout the negotiations, leaders cited opportunities for collaboration and innovation as the reason behind the hesitancy to expand hybrid work. This is not a challenge exclusive to the federal government. Many leaders are trying to shoehorn in more traditional “in office” approaches to improving collaboration and innovation without understanding that those do not work in a hybrid environment. Instead, leaders need to challenge previously held assumptions and find and deliver new methods to build innovation and collaboration in a hybrid culture.

Employee autonomy in hybrid work options is key to hybrid team success, and leaders need to be able to provide that autonomy while still maintaining team cohesion and opportunities for collaboration and innovation.

Members can leverage Info-Tech’s research in this area to ensure that leaders have the right tools they need to meet the challenges of hybrid work head on.

How do we identify opportunities to drive Innovation and more effective collaboration in a hybrid world?

Effective teams are at the heart of innovation. Innovation is challenging to get right, and even more challenging to sustain over the long term. One of the common stumbling blocks we see comes from organizations focusing more on the ideas and the process than on the culture and the people needed to make innovation a way of life. Creating a culture of innovation is difficult, especially in a hybrid world, and organizations need to actively cultivate this culture to be successful.

Hybrid work has made creating a high-performing team more challenging, because of the individualization of work. A team that is united in purpose knows how to work collaboratively and puts forward innovative ideas which will drive greater organizational success; in a hybrid world this requires intentional leadership. Organizations need to be much more purposeful about collaboration, siloed ways of working, and not sharing knowledge are all symptoms that indicate a potential problem in this area.

Teams with a shared purpose are more engaged and have higher performance. When individuals feel like part of a team working toward a shared goal they are 3.5x more likely to be engaged. Engaged employees are stronger performers with 90% reporting they regularly accomplish more than what is expected.(McLean & Company, 2023)

Leverage Info-Tech's research on building team effectiveness to drive an innovative team mindset in your organization:

How do we identify which roles and functions are suitable for hybrid work and set clear expectations for all hybrid activities?

IT departments that offer some degree of location flexibility are more effective at supporting the organization than those who do not. Since implementing location flexibility, 35% of service desk functions report improved service. However, a one-size-fits-all approach to selecting and implementing flexible work options fails to consider unique employee needs and will not reap the benefits of offering a flexible work program.

Leverage our Develop a Targeted Flexible Work Program research to assess the feasibility of various flexible work options and select ones that meet employee needs and that are feasible for the organization.

We want to understand what other organizations have done to successfully implement sustainable hybrid work. The truth about hybrid work is that there are many viable models, and the “best of breed” depends on who you ask. In the post-pandemic workspace, for every work location model there is an industry leader that has made it functional. And yet this doesn’t mean that every model will be viable for your organization.

IT has two roles: to effectively support the broader organization, and to function effectively within the department. It therefore has two main stakeholder relationships: the organization it supports, and the employees it houses. Hybrid work impacts both. Don't make the mistake of overweighting one relationship at the expense of the other. IT will only function effectively when it addresses both.

Red our State of Hybrid Work in IT report to learn more about what other IT organizations are doing with regards to hybrid work, how hybrid has impacted infrastructure, operations, and business relations.

How can we help managers effectively manage hybrid teams?

Managers cannot rely upon spontaneous social interactions that happen organically when people are co-located to build meaningful and trusting relationships. Space and time need to be created in a hybrid environment for this to happen.

Managing hybrid teams does not require developing new manager competencies. Instead, managers need to “dial up” competencies they already have and adjust their approaches.

Leverage our research Equip Managers to Lead Virtual Teams to help managers dial up their existing competencies to create a solid foundation for managing virtual teams. Setting clear expectations and taking a more planful approach to managing performance and employee development can make hybrid work, work.

Our Take

Hybrid work offers boundless opportunities for organizations that are prepared and willing to step up to the challenge. Increased engagement, productivity, recruitment, and retention are only some of the benefits that hybrid work can offer. The success or failure of implementing hybrid work options ultimately comes down to leaders; if they are not set up for success then your organization will struggle to see these gains.

We’ve covered the people side of things in this note, but infrastructure and operations also have a stake in turning this temporary measure into a long-term strategy. Employee onboarding/offboarding experiences, impacts to networking, GC software (GCDocs, etc.) and hardware assets all need to be changed to be able to function in the hybrid space. We will cover this in more detail in a future note.

Want to Know More?

Please reach out to your Info-Tech Research Group Account or Executive Services representative today. You may also click the link in any of the links above to schedule an analyst call.

Related Content

Visit our IT Cost Optimization Center
Over 100 analysts waiting to take your call right now: 1-519-432-3550 x2019