Hybrid workplaces are here to stay – but how do you get them to work?

By Leon Gettler, Talking Business >>

IN THE POST-COVID era, hybrid work has become much more established. The hybrid workplace is now becoming a standard.

But it has resulted in a number of challenges for businesses and employees.

As the world has returned to normal, employers now have a choice in terms of space usage and office real estate: do they force people to come back to the office and get back to work the way it was before the pandemic, or do they embrace the hybrid way of working?

This is critical because employees during the pandemic experienced freedom of choice in terms of when and where they worked. In the post-Covid era, they are now re-evaluating what they want from their work.

Gartner’s HR Advisory director, Neal Woolrich said Gartner surveys showed that one in three employers said they would not mandate people to come back on site. They said they would give employees a say on whether they wanted to work flexibly. 

Regular office time recommended

But at the same time, one in three organisations were mandating time in the office – and generally that was two to three days a week in the office.

“What we’re finding, for organisations that are mandating time in the office, employees just aren’t coming in as much as they would like them to,” Mr Woolrich told Talking Business. “That’s [causing] all sorts of frictions around this onsite-versus-hybrid model.

“Some employees are resisting it and, on the other hand, we have some mostly senior leaders who are vigorous about compelling people to come back onsite.

“So there’s this tension between employees who want flexibility and say they have been working productively and collaboratively in the hybrid model versus senior leaders generally who are saying ‘We want people back on site because this distributive workforce is affecting our productivity and it’s affecting our culture.”

Mr Woolrich said the hybrid workplace was now much more challenging for workplace management.

“Working in this hybrid manner is a bit more difficult. What we’ve started to realise much more acutely recently is that every individual’s needs in the hybrid environment are unique,” he said.

“We can’t just impose a ‘one size fits all model’ on everyone and hope that it works. There’s a big lift and most of that lift is on the shoulders of managers to really come up with customized hybrid working models that will cater to the unique needs of all the different employees that they have across their organisations.”

‘In-principle’ hybrid work works

Mr Woolrich said the best organisations approach it with a broad set of principles and then get managers and team members to customize those principles in their own context.

If the team, for example, has parents, they will come up with a team agreed charter that won’t schedule meetings before 9am and no later than 3pm

He said people were now realising what has to be done to make hybrid work happen more effectively.

“Hybrid work is here to stay,” Mr Woolrich said. “We’re not going back to the pre-Covid days and employees are telling us loud and clear that they want that flexibility – and if they don’t get it, they will vote with their feet.”




Hear the complete interview and catch up with other topical business news on Leon Gettler’s Talking Business podcast, released every Friday at www.acast.com/talkingbusiness



Contact Us


PO Box 2144