The Problem with the Hybrid Work Model

"Hear about the new plan?"

 

It happens all the time. The office meeting comes to an end. Remote colleagues attending via video conference link start signing off until they are all gone. But this doesn't always mean the conversation about the topic at hand comes to an end. Sometimes those in the room continue to talk about it for just a little bit longer. 

And sometimes, this can lead to tweaks or even reverses to the plan agreed during the meeting, despite remote participants no longer being 'present' so to speak. Let's be honest, aren't there even times when remote team members are the subject of the conversation? 

This is just one example of how easily a subtle divide between office-based and remote staff can develop. But it's a divide that can just as easily develop into a culture in which remote workers feel like second-class citizens.

Moreover, this is an example of the kind of debilitating issue that can easily accompany the transition to the hybrid work model, but that often gets overlooked until it's too late.

 

The rocky road to the hybrid work model

 

The potential for a workforce divide is far from the only issue plaguing organizations that adopt the hybrid work model. 


For example, consider how we take for granted looking up from our desk to ask a colleague a question. But for remote staff, it's a luxury they don't have. Staying abreast of developments, figuring out who can help, and generally getting answers becomes much more difficult and time-consuming when you have to wait for asynchronous responses to text messages or even scheduled meetings. 


For another example, consider just how challenging it is for leadership to communicate the mission and strategy to all levels of the organization under normal circumstances, particularly in large organizations with numerous layers of hierarchy. Now consider just how much harder it becomes to keep people and strategy aligned with the added complication of a significant percentage of the workforce no longer even based in the office.


The transition to the hybrid work model also challenges managers accustomed to seeing their direct reports. As noted by Parker, Knight, and Keller, writing for the Harvard Business Review, studies confirm that they can often struggle to believe that their reports are indeed working. The analysts add that this 'trust issue' can often spill over into how managers perceive their staff, leading them to question their competence.

 

More tech, more updates, more problems 


The problems associated with the transition to the hybrid work model are not easy to address. Furthermore, it would be a mistake to imagine that technology alone can solve them. In reality, a tech-focused approach can backfire.

For instance, staff inevitably perceive remote monitoring systems designed to recreate the kind of oversight managers take for granted in the workplace as a form of micro-management. The disengagement that follows sets the stage for turning the old idea that people work better in the office into a self-fulfilling prophecy.

While increasing the flow of information and the cadence of update meetings can deflect staff from the job at hand. It also significantly adds to the risk of a key cause of staff resignations, namely burnout.

 

Reaping the rewards while sidestepping the challenges

 

It takes more than technology to address the challenges posed by the transition to the hybrid work model. The real solution requires a management methodology capable of bringing about a new culture supported by technology. The union of Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) and the Gtmhub platform is an example of such a solution.


OKRs is a straightforward but transformative management methodology used by organizations like Adobe, Nike, Intel, LinkedIn, and Airbnb. The association with so many companies that have achieved market leadership has contributed to the methodology's ever-increasing popularity.
 

When you consider the benefits that organizations hope to achieve by adopting OKRs, what becomes apparent is the extent to which they directly address the key challenges that accompany the transition to the hybrid work model. 


For example, OKRs help management foster a more autonomous and mission-aligned workforce. As another example, OKRs promote accountability while allowing management to discard engagement-eroding approaches like micro-management. OKRs also help break down organizational silos. The divide between office-based and remote staff dissolves in the collaborative culture that emerges.


Having understood the benefits of OKRs, it's easy to understand why organizations that have embraced the methodology can reap the rewards of the hybrid work model while sidestepping the attendant challenges - rewards that include reduced operational costs, more scalable operations, and becoming more attractive to job candidates. 

To learn more about the business benefits of the hybrid work model, how OKRs address the key challenges, and how Gtmhub completes the solution, download our white paper, The Future of Work Today.