Hybrid Work: Are We Doing It Wrong?

For this article by Jo Ilfeld, Executive Leadership Coach on hybrid work the image shows a business woman alone in her office in front of a large video screen showing a Zoom meeting

I was recently talking with a client about hybrid work initiatives and how to get people back in the office and how companies are really coming down on different sides of this. As the business world embraces hybrid work models, finding the right balance between in-office and remote work becomes crucial.

Bringing employees back to the office can be challenging.

One of the key considerations when implementing hybrid work policies is the potential dilution of positive network effects. Many companies require employees to be in the office for a certain number of days each week. However, when team members come in on different days, some days people show up and the office feels like a ghost town and lacks any of the cohesive energy of the workplace that employers were hoping to encourage.

In a situation where you have a truly global team, the rigid return-to-work policies may require careful evaluation. Take, for example, an executive coaching client of mine who is working for a Bay Area company that has a three-day-a-week requirement. She often talks with her boss, who is in Europe, from her home office first thing early in the morning before heading to her workplace to swipe her badge. However, she then spends the rest of the day in virtual meetings with other people in different parts of the country, ending her day by driving back in busy commuter traffic. Such circumstances raise valid concerns about the necessity and effectiveness of commuting, especially when employees spend significant time engaging with remote colleagues.

While some companies implement three-day office attendance requirements, it’s worth exploring alternative approaches. An intriguing proposition is to designate one specific day, such as Wednesdays or Tuesdays, for all employees to be present in the office. This concentrated approach fosters positive network effects, allowing individuals to engage with a broader range of colleagues and create meaningful connections. Moreover, this model empowers employees to then decide for themselves how and where they want to work during the remainder of the week.

As organizations navigate the complexities of hybrid work arrangements, it is vital to carefully consider the impact of return-to-office policies. Rather than focusing solely on the number of days employees spend in the office, we should prioritize creating environments that maximize positive network effects and foster collaboration.

I would love to hear about your company’s approach to hybrid work and how it has affected your experience. Leave your thoughts in the comments below; I look forward to hearing from you.

Read More: Leadership Development: Advice for Those Who Resist Change

Jo Ilfeld, PhD

An executive leadership coach, Jo helps C-suite leaders, executives, and high-potential managers develop the flexibility, skill, and frame of mind to meet the challenges of the next five, ten, twenty years…. and beyond. She works with individuals, teams and organizations on four core areas of leadership development. Check out Jo's bio page for more information.

Leave a Comment