The Reality about Hybrid Work

There’s a significant disconnect with a number of articles on ‘Hybrid Workplaces’ and it’s really disappointing to see SO MANY large consultants pump out articles that ignore reality.

So this is a short take to offer an additional perspective.

1) Hybrid workplaces have existed for centuries, they are not new, though the sudden interest is
2) Much of the discussion has been on how to assist employees who prefer to work in an office, to get used to working at least part of their time, from somewhere other than the office
3) Almost NONE of the discussion looks at the fact that between 40 and 60% of workplaces (depending on their make-up) have employees who prefer to work Anywhere OTHER THAN an office, have been forced to work in an office for most of their careers
4) The SINGLE BIGGEST DRIVER for mandating (yes that is the word) people work in the office is the utter lack of skill sets held by in particular, line managers, to manage staff NOT in their line of sight
5) CFO’s are suddenly waking up to the false ‘sunk-cost’ of extremely expensive commercial real-estate. Many are now asking ‘why have we rented so much space for so long?’

I’ve spoken about this for over a decade, here and overseas, on radio, in magazines and press both online and in print. Number 4 is the continued entrenchment of the Wedgewood factory model from the 1780s that saw the role of ‘overseer’ stand behind workers to guide them in the use of new tools and methods not seen on the farms. The ‘overseer’ in now known as ‘manager’ and very few understand how to guide and support staff who aren’t at their desks.

The skillset missing (and I flag my bias here in that I run sessions on How To…’) is what I have called Outcomes Based Management. It requires MUCH more planning by Managers and a much greater awareness of the outputs of their office based workforce. Once understood and implemented, employee productivity climbs as much of the wasted effort of ‘being busy’ dissipates to make way for outcomes.That also leads to far greater engagement of the workforce.

The Hybrid workforce – and staff who work from their cars already know about it, is a useful option. I just wish more Managers would embrace the approaches available to them whilst also recognising that half their workforce will likely prefer it.

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