Workplace Hybrid Configuration or Culture?

Does your workplace have a hybrid configuration or hybrid culture? The Great Place to Work blog offers the distinction and it’s an important one for leaders. A hybrid configuration is one that pays attention to the mechanics of hybrid work models – who works from home, who works on-site and so on. Think, “place and space” focus. By contrast, a hybrid culture is one that, according to this GPTW article, “is the combination of workplace systems, behaviors and values that cut across in-person and remote teams and impacts the overall employee experience.”

The Imperative for Creating a Hybrid Workplace Culture

Given that 74% of companies in the United States plan to offer some version of hybrid work to their employees, this distinction isn’t just fancy word play. It’s the knife’s edge for determining which companies – and the leaders who lead them – will flourish or flounder. 

Want to increase the chances that your company (or department) has a successful hybrid culture?  Here’s a checklist of questions to ask to determine the likelihood that you are creating the optimal environment. Consider these questions a “thought starter” list to help you identify blind spots in your hybrid workplace planning. 

Questions for Senior Management

  1. As a senior leadership team, have you had conversations about hybrid structure across the enterprise? Where does each member of the executive team stand?
  2. Are you one of the 66% of execs who stated a preference for in-person work? Dig a little deeper: what is it that you believe to be true about in-person work? What data is that based on?
  3. What systems have you put in place to gather input from employees about their preferences for hybrid work? 
  4. When seeking feedback, have you cast the net widely enough? Are all segments of your employee population represented in the data?
  5. Research on neuroscience tells us that people value choices – aim for three options (two isn’t really a “choice” and more than five becomes overwhelming.) What three or four  things can you offer employees that will benefit both the business and the workforce?
  6. When it comes to creating equity across the organization, what plans have you put in place? 

Questions for Mid-Level and Frontline Leaders

In addition to modifying some of the above questions to fit your individual team situation regarding asking for input and choice, here are additional ideas for you to create an optimal hybrid situation in the one-to-one interactions direct supervisors often find themselves in.

  1. Be ready for the “it’s not fair” discussions. Do you have a plan for what to say to people who are irritated, disappointed or otherwise dissatisfied with current work configuration? More directly: do they have a valid point?
  2. Do you still struggle with issues of trusting your team when they’re working remotely? Consider: is it just a habit you’re trying to relearn, or are there actual clues that something is amiss with an offsite employee?
  3. When was the last time you asked, “How are you doing?” and really listened? The power of tuning in to your team never goes out of style. It’s foundational to your people equation skills and an excellent way to test how well hybrid is working within your department.

Chances are you’re already leading in some version of a hybrid work configuration. What happens next – whether your department (or company) – makes the leap to a full-on hybrid culture depends on your ability as a leader to ask introspective and sometimes difficult questions of yourself and fellow leaders. Good luck!

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