Being a Hybrid Company is “in” today

What needs to be focused on when planning the physical and virtual environment for hybrid management?

What needs to be focused on when planning the physical and virtual environment for hybrid management?

Did COVID-19 change the world of work? Not really. It just accelerated the changes. The pandemic showed us that there truly is no limit to how quickly organizations can adapt, or unfortunately, how long they can resist change. It was also a 2-year course on hybrid work, where content and simulation were created on the go. Unfortunately, the ‘students who weren’t paying attention in class’ now believe that hybrid work is just a combination of remote and in-office work, meaning ‘you work from home for half a week and the other half from the office.’ However, this is only a part of the hybrid world.

When we test a car, we often drive it in challenging terrain. This is because we can identify its weaknesses sooner when problems arise. The pandemic was that challenging terrain for companies:

So what should new, best practices and systems look like when the workplace is anywhere and anytime?

How do workplaces, processes and standards need to change in order for the hybrid to get “into the blood” of people and be beneficial?

Dean Res, senior consultant of the FBE company, answers questions about hybrid work

Is the hybrid approach to work as different and new as it is now being talked about?

Actually not. Long before the pandemic, we had the opportunity to observe and adopt a different style of work from international teams that worked in geographically and culturally different areas. They have long been using systems that most companies started discovering two years ago:

The first mention of cloud computing dates back to 1961 and was made by American computer scientist John McCarthy.

ZOOM has been providing its services since 2011.

The MS Teams service was launched in November 2016.

For at least the past ten years, there has been talk of every company becoming an IT company. Therefore, digital experiences are becoming just as important as physical and professional abilities for people.

How do you perceive the essence of hybrid work?

First and foremost, it is necessary to look at everything in a more complex way and address the entire chain: people – processes – technology, which operates within a specific corporate system. The system is composed of both physical and virtual environments where all processes take place. Change and development in the virtual environment logically trigger changes in the physical environment, and vice versa. Of course, this has an impact on the functionality of processes and requires a change in people’s thinking as well.

What needs to be focused on when planning the physical and virtual environment for hybrid management?

Within the physical environment of hybrid work, it is necessary to consider spatial dynamics because our work requirements have changed compared to before. We should create a so-called hybrid layout. To make it functional, we shouldn’t address it subjectively, as unfortunately many companies do today. We must base it on real data, such as the number of hours required for office work, acoustic and visual noise, the number of interactions, time spent in meetings, and so on.

The architecture of the physical workplace should be supported by IT and cloud architecture that accommodates hybrid work. It should meet specific requirements such as real-time collaboration, access to data and systems in real-time, and more.

It’s also important to note that the role of the company’s IT professionals will be quite different in a hybrid company. Companies will increasingly need IT architects who can build and develop the virtual environment in parallel with process and physical changes.

As part of the new hybrid work trends, companies encountered practical problems, such as: How to do hybrid work in open-space, when we need to hear each other and not disturb when connected online? What communication channel to use when meeting a hybrid project team? How many hours a week should a person be in the office? Are there general tips for this?

We can draw inspiration from the best practices of other companies, but we must design solutions for our own company ourselves. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. A comprehensive understanding of our current needs can be provided, for example, by conducting an audit to address the hybrid model. This will enable us to then set and implement specific recommendations for change.

“We don’t need new technologies. For our employees and clients, a shared word and excel is enough” – this is a frequent answer in companies even today. What do you think?

Employees are more satisfied when they have technology that helps them in their work and is chosen to make it easier. The condition is that we teach them how to use these new technologies. Unfortunately, based on my own experience, many companies assumed that their people would automatically learn. But that’s not how it works! I’ve also had situations where, as part of consultancy support for hybrid work, I had to teach employees in a company how to work with Excel.

When we want to work in a hybrid manner, we usually need more professional equipment than before: both hardware and software. What we need depends on how the company operates. In today’s work, most people encounter IT solutions tailored to their job duties. Such applications are increasingly using or collecting data from the mentioned cloud. The cloud is becoming an indispensable form for integrating remote workplaces with the company’s headquarters. Collaborative tools are necessary for proper work coordination and also for development or decision-making. These tools allow people to meet or share information that is immediately available to the entire team. Again, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution.

For traditional project management, a suitable tool could be one for document sharing, collaboration, task tracking, and portfolio reporting. Such a combination of tools might include MS Project, MS Teams, Sharepoint, and Power BI.

When a company operates more agilely, it will need tools to support this type of work. A typical representative of such tools is Atlassian’s Jira, Jira Align, and Confluence. This allows for sprint planning and documentation management, all accessible through remote access, making it easy to connect users even when they are working from different locations. These tools are designed to provide direct support for Scrum, Kanban, and SAFe methodologies, making it more efficient to monitor and manage agile projects and processes.

Of course, it’s important not to forget about cybersecurity, which is a separate chapter in this context.

In conclusion, technologies play a significant supporting role, but they have never been and will never be a replacement for human creative potential.

According to a Gallup survey: 4 out of 10 employees want to have decision-making autonomy in the area of workplace presence planning, 6 out of 10 prefer to have a given clear structure. How does it usually look in Czech and Slovak companies?

The situation cannot be generalized. It is necessary to ensure that people can achieve the desired performance both at work and at home. Therefore, it is time to define what optimal performance means for you, what strategies to achieve it, tools to monitor it, and success criteria (KPIs versus OKRs). Define which activities are best performed at work and which can be done remotely. We can also work with a simple equation: 20/80 office first, 50/50 balance hybrid, 80/20 virtual first.

Absolutely, giving people compelling reasons to come to the office is crucial. This is related to the company’s values, culture, and workplace interaction.

Does hybrid work require a change in mindset?

In the VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous) world, where changes are constant, everyone needs to think and act differently. Therefore, there is currently a growing demand for agile-minded people. Agile thinking involves understanding, collaboration, learning, and maintaining flexibility to achieve highly effective results. It can be said that those who think agilely today quickly adapt to the constantly changing demand and ambiguity of the world.

Adapting doesn’t necessarily mean development. When we want to push things further, the solution is hybrid thinkers. Hybrid thinking is the ability to combine different approaches and quickly switch between them. This helps see and connect opportunities that others may not see. People who can perceive different perspectives create a comprehensive solution, co-create a new reality, and bring innovative results. For example: Leonardo da Vinci understood not only art but also architecture, mathematics, and physics. Mark Parker, CEO of Nike, is an experienced businessman, athlete, and reportedly draws as well as anyone in his company. Sara Polak, originally from the Czech Republic, studied archaeology and evolutionary anthropology; now, she promotes artificial intelligence and is listed among the top IT personalities by Forbes.

What in conclusion?

It’s all about understanding the complex and systematic world in which we operate. Talk and work with people who can do this. Seek your own path, but at the same time, thoroughly learn from the mistakes and experiences of those who came before you.

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