The future is already here – it’s just not evenly distributed. A famous quote by SF author William Gibson that sounds like he was talking about the hybrid office. Although the central theme running through all Winter Summit kick-off sessions is that hybrid work is here to stay and not yet another buzzword, the reality is that it’s still a work in progress at a lot of companies.
In this session, Charles Groenhuijsen and Rob Kurver sat down with Remco de Kramer (Product Marketing Manager Modern Work @ Microsoft) and Enrico Karsten (Managing Director @ Anywhere365 for a conversation about how 2 years of pandemic affected the adoption of the hybrid workplace.
Microsoft Teams is the perfect example of digital acceleration. It quickly became the fastest-growing app in Microsoft’s history. With it, we saw the genesis of something Remco referred to as “Meeting Madness”.
While Enrico Karsten started the day by reminding us that “time is the most valuable possession we have in organizations” and how important it is “to spend our time collectively on the right things and the right conversations.”, a huge chunk of our collective time (actually more than ever in some companies) is now spent in online meetings, as video calls almost “became a synonym for (remote) work”.
Enrico continued “the barriers for having meetings are lowered to the point where a lot of people stopped thinking for themselves” and where the answer to every challenge or problem is “let’s have a meeting.”
The road to the hybrid workplace
This shows that having the right technology is only half the battle. The tools are not the problem. They are there, are constantly evolving, and will be there when we need them. However, if we use the tools that are at our disposal in the wrong way, we will never reap the benefits they have to offer. Therefore the other half of the battle must be about mindset and culture.
The hybrid mindset is one in which having a calendar jam-packed with meetings doesn’t equal being productive, or where having an empty calendar doesn’t mean that you’re lazy, but just critical to which meetings you want to attend and which conversations are unnecessary.
Let’s start with culture
Part of this new mindset is also a shift in our thinking, Work needs to be redefined, from the how, the why and the where, eventually resulting in a culture in which being addicted to work is not preferable to having a life in which work and life are in harmony. A culture where employees can work from locations they choose, at times that are convenient and efficient for them. For some, this means going to the office, and for others working from personal workspaces. For everyone, it means at least having the freedom to choose.
This last point is another one exposed by the pandemic. While working from bedrooms or the kitchen table was fine for a short period, in the long run it’s unsustainable for all sorts of reasons. Dedicated workspaces with dedicated technology where people can be at their most productive and effective are an important prerequisite for the successful implementation of hybrid workstyles.
The keywords for leaders looking for ways to truly embrace hybrid work are trust, accountability, and facilitation. Trusting employees, providing them with the right tools and workspaces, and not judging them on “time spent”, but on “work done”.
What does the future look like?
Switching to remote work was easy, but to create a sustainable hybrid future there’s still work left to be done.
The beauty is that nothing is stopping us! The tech is here, and maybe in the future we will primarily be meeting in the Metaverse or have video meetings enhanced by augmented reality or using tools that aren’t invented yet, who knows? For now, the biggest challenge for the majority of companies is to get hybrid work right first.
Watch the full conversation here: