18 Jan Why Hybrid Work Models Are Doomed to Fail
One of the biggest business trends we’ve seen in the past two years has been the sweeping shift to hybrid (meaning remote-inclusive) work models, but such a dramatic transition begs the question – how sustainable is this new model?
While there are countless reasons to hope and believe that this shift is the beginning of the future of work, the truth is that many of these hybrid models are likely to fail. That’s not for a lack of desire to keep them around, but rather a neglect to make a sufficient commitment to the change.
Taking on some new processes without rethinking the rest has set organizations up to fail in their attempts to spearhead these futuristic initiatives.
The vast majority of companies adopting remote work models (either partially or fully) are failing to take the necessary steps to ensure the success of these new structures. Taking on some new processes without rethinking the rest has set organizations up to fail in their attempts to spearhead these futuristic initiatives. For example, allowing team members to work remotely, but without adjusting communication and visibility efforts, performance review processes, and so on, is bound to leave remote-first employees at a deficit. The people who are regularly coming into the office are bound to be perceived in a more positive light when the majority of processes are designed around face-to-face interactions.
Since our mindset remains that facetime equates to better performance and therefore higher chances of promotion, we’re setting certain team members up to fail.
The fact that the old way of doing things is still sprinkled in with the new is leading people to feeling stagnant, overlooked, and undervalued. People’s careers are developing differently with the adoption of remote work due to this lack of visibility. Since our mindset remains that facetime equates to better performance and therefore higher chances of promotion, we’re setting certain team members up to fail.
Certain minorities are being hit harder, thus exacerbating their already existing disadvantages. Women, for example, are getting penalized by this reality more because they’re more likely than their male counterparts to stay home. Also, Black employees tend to stay at home more because it means they don’t have to deal with microaggressions on a daily basis.
The only way to avoid these issues involved with current hybrid work models is by adjusting management styles to meet the needs of our new reality.
The only way to avoid these issues involved with current hybrid work models is by adjusting management styles to meet the needs of our new reality. Since this is all still so new and uncertain, leaders are operating blindly, making it nearly impossible to see which parts of their strategy need to be permanently adjusted. A good rule of thumb? All of it. It’s become clear that the new-norm is here to stay, and that relying on outdated methods and strategies simply won’t cut it. Making some changes here and there leaves too much room for error, which results in leaders blaming the new hybrid model for not working rather than the lingering archaic way of doing things.
So what can you do to improve your management style to fit the needs of these hybrid models?
- Improve communication by increasing frequency and cross-pollination. This also means listening to your team members more, and training them to take communication initiatives as well.
- Rethink the way you conduct performance reviews, and rely on concrete data and outcomes
- Rewire your brain to understand that a lack of facetime does not equate to a lack of presence or productivity
- Rely more on tech (adopt a project management platform such as Asana, communications platforms such as Slack, Teams and Zoom, and CRM platforms such as Dubsado)
- Provide resources to employees who need more structure or support
The future of work is full of uncertainty and requires an extreme amount of flexibility and constant evaluation.
Without a complete overhaul of business strategy and processes to match these attractive new hybrid work models, the shift to hybrid is doomed to fail. Leaders and team members alike must completely commit to the new-norm, and let go of hopes of returning to the old. The future of work is full of uncertainty and requires an extreme amount of flexibility and constant evaluation. Times of transition are never easy, but can be made smoother through a never-ending effort to stay ahead of the game. Even when things are in a stable state of normalcy, strategies need to be reassessed and tweaked on a regular basis, and so much more so in periods of change.
Shaara Roman is founder and CEO of The Silverene Group, a culture consultancy that helps companies align their people programs with business goals.