Best Practice

No turning back—The key steps for hybrid working

27.04.2022

First, all employees had to work from home, next, they all had to return to the workplace, and then it was back to the home office again. Such an extreme back-and-forth cannot be a permanent solution. However, most employees do not want to go back to the office full-time but prefer to enjoy the best of both worlds. Organizations who will not adjust to hybrid working might end up losing employees with crucial skills. They should therefore analyze their hybrid working capabilities as soon as possible and plan how to best move forward in terms of infrastructure, processes and corporate culture and remain agile in the long term. 

The pandemic forced organizations to send their employees to work from home virtually overnight. Quick solutions were implemented on the fly. Many organizations felt driven by circumstances outside their control and wanted nothing more than to have their workforce back at the workplace as soon as possible. Others made a virtue of necessity and provided mobile applications, secure remote access, and flexible working hours.  

Meanwhile, one thing has become clear: There is no turning back. Numerous studies show that employees want to continue to benefit from hybrid working models in the future: individual accountability and independent decision-making instead of mandatory attendance times at the office. Many executives, on the other hand, are eager for their employees to return to in-person work at the office. This is due to a fear of losing control or productivity concerns in connection with teleworking, but they also expect the flow of information and working as a team to be better when everyone is working at the company’s offices. Against this background, organizations now need to design tomorrow’s workplaces and, in doing so, address the question of how exactly this collaboration should look. 

New Work—Are you a novice, an advanced user, or a pioneer?

In a first step, it is important to analyze the following: Where does your own organization stand after the pandemic and what degree of hybrid working is really the best in the long term? Is your organization a novice, an advanced user or even a pioneer?  

Those who are new to the concept of New Work find themselves at the beginning of the transformation process, their IT structure requires modernization and often even a paradigm shift. Employees are only now getting acquainted with new technologies and novel ways of working. 

In organizations who are an advanced stage, the process to transform their IT structure is already underway. Their focus is on the comprehensive inclusion of frontline workers, and they are taking the first steps towards a platform for all applications. Agile working methods and ways to support their staff along the process are taken into consideration. 

Pioneers have already mastered the crucial transition milestones and are now striving for a holistic approach geared to provide customized experiences for their workforce. Their work processes and organizational structures as well as corporate culture are actively adjusted to the circumstances and supported along the way. 

Three areas that are critical for success

To determine their current level of maturity, organizations should assess what they have already achieved in the area of hybrid working. A comparison of the situation before and after the pandemic—especially in the areas of infrastructure, processes, and corporate culture—is helpful in this respect.

Infrastructure

Remote access and mobile computers have by now been introduced by almost every organization. However, mobile working requires endpoint, edge as well as cloud security. Instead of isolated solutions, integrated systems are required, instead of traditional file sharing, state-of-the-art document management systems are needed that bring together chat, hybrid meeting, and even landline telecommunication functions. 

Processes

Previously, most corporate workflows and organizational structures required employees to be physically present at the workplace. This ranges from paper-based approval processes to meetings and the provision of equipment. Organizations now need to fashion their specific hybrid working model and adjust their structures, workflows, processes, and framework conditions accordingly. 

Corporate culture

The basis for mobility, flexibility and hybrid working is a state-of-the-art management culture—and a workforce who assumes accountability. Established characteristics of corporate culture as well as tried-and-tested rituals can be combined with new solutions. This requires a comprehensive change management strategy that strikes a balance between new and established practices.  

Analyzing the needs

Having determined where an organization stands in the various areas, the way forward and a target state must be defined based on the current level of maturity. Available options as well as the desired course of action need to be examined. Once this has been done, specific change requirements and new solutions can be derived. If you would like to learn more about these topics, please do not hesitate to contact us. 

The topic of a hybrid work set-up should also be considered in the context of the crisis becoming a permanent state. As framework conditions are likely to remain volatile and unpredictable over the next few years, organizations need robust approaches, processes, cultural characteristics, and infrastructures. These should provide a degree of stability, especially in times of uncertainty. A contradiction? Not at all. It will be the prerequisite for achieving financial success in years to come.  

Now is the time to embark on this journey

Only an agile organization can respond quickly to new developments. The first step is accepting the fact that there will be no going back to the pre-coronavirus era. The following steps are determining the current level of maturity in terms of digital collaboration and New Work and initiating targeted actions.  

Moving towards a digital, integrated workplace is not just an IT topic. It is about choosing the right infrastructure for the respective work requirements. It is about developing processes and adjusting the corporate culture to ensure that new ways of working are accepted and practiced in the long term.  

Organizations are at different stages and have different needs in terms of infrastructure, processes and corporate culture. These needs must be considered, addressed, and attended to on a case-by-case basis and depending on the respective level of maturity. An experienced consultant who is able to expertly advise organizations from all industries, of all sizes and maturity levels on their respective paths towards a digital, sustainable, and agile future can assist in this regard.  

Authors

Christian Koch

Christian Koch

Manager Collaboration & Unified Communication

Marc Gratwohl

Marc Gratwohl

Manager

Weiterführende Links

Hybrid-Work-Studie
New Work
Digital Workplace