In the last several months, companies worldwide have come a long way, at an accelerated pace discovering and improving the remote first, and now mainly hybrid work model. According to research by CBRE, the process can be broken down into five distinct steps, the last of which is reaching functional maturity, in which the company operates more efficiently than ever before.
An interesting reference point for this five-stage development of an organizational culture focused on using hybrid work is the division proposed (for remote work) by Matt Mullenweg, an American entrepreneur and head of the Automattic organization. According to him, companies should develop their organizational culture to achieve what he calls “nirvana.” Thanks to the use of remote work, the enterprise then functions more efficiently than it would ever be possible in the traditional model of office work.
Therefore, if we take into account the research on the preferences of Polish employees who have worked remotely in recent months and have appreciated this mode of work, reporting a desire to return to selected advantages and the atmosphere of a traditional office, striving for organizational culture maturity (i.e., “nirvana,” as defined by Mullenweg) seems to be the best scenario for the reconstruction of the company’s operating model. However, this time, it is worth striving to build a mature hybrid model, which involves efficiently combining remote work and activities performed in the office.
Stage 1. Fast improvisation
As we remember, in the case of remote work, many Polish enterprises started this stage quite rapidly in March 2020. Employees were suddenly asked to continue their activities without visiting the office, in many cases without noticeable support from employers. The then research by Personnel Service showed that as many as 25% of respondents did not even receive the equipment needed for remote work. Half of the companies that encouraged home offices were not interested in the technical and ergonomic conditions in which their employees were to function.
However, a similar stage – but on the way to building a mature hybrid model – does not seem to be a threat. Many companies are already relying on the experience gathered during several months of remote work, so the transition to the following stages of building a hybrid organizational culture should proceed without significant problems.
Stage 2. Recreating a traditional office remotely
After overcoming the fundamental technical problems (e.g., equipping all employees with notebook computers), many companies began to strive to recreate the office work model in remote conditions as faithfully as possible. However, it quickly turned out that it was neither easy nor even possible, which does not mean that the employees did not notice the advantages of the new solution. As many as 30% of them – in a study conducted by CBRE and Grafton Recruitment – declared, for example, an improvement in relations with other members of their families. On the other hand, the boundaries between work and rest were seriously blurred – almost half of the respondents indicated a worse work-life balance, dominated by professional duties. Three-quarters of them also admitted that they work more at home and at different times than at the office.
Therefore, this stage requires a great deal of organizational maturity. However, suppose we support employees in it through additional training and a clear definition of the rules of working outside the office. In that case, it should not cause significant complications both in the company’s functioning and in the private life of its people.
Stage 3. Appropriate work tools
At this stage, companies are already clearly discovering the challenge of ensuring good team communication when working remotely. Therefore, it turns out that it is essential to use various types of modern communication tools, enabling remote meetings, videoconferences, file transfer, joint work, text, verbal, and image communication. These tools are crucial for remote work, and if properly used, they allow you to maintain an appropriate level of communication in the team. It is not easy, but – as the CBRE and Grafton Recruitment study showed – 53% of people working remotely said that their relationship with their colleagues had not changed from before the pandemic, and 6% even indicated an improvement.
Stage 4. Asynchronous communication
At this stage, enterprises begin to meet the “higher” needs of their employees. Again, there are attempts to recreate the organizational culture in the office, but the emphasis is placed on its deeper values, such as a sense of community, integration, building qualitative relationships between employees, or an adequately modified offer of additional benefits improving the commitment, identification, and well-being of people making up the company.
In short, the company begins to provide a similar level of care to its employees as it does with office work. As a result, it is easier for employees to overcome the difficulties associated with working from home. They focus on the advantages of this solution, improving their efficiency and commitment. What’s more, the refined hybrid model can also be a magnet attracting new talents to the company – according to the CBRE and Grafton Recruitment research, 9 out of 10 jobseekers check whether there is a possibility of remote work and treat it as a condition for joining the recruitment process. A hybrid work model is expected by as many as 64% of employees, and if the current employer did not offer such a possibility, 61% of respondents declared that they would be willing to change jobs for this reason.
Stage 5. Mature organizational culture
At this stage in the development of a remote or hybrid work model, the company begins to operate like a well-oiled machine. All processes are carried out more efficiently than in the old, traditional mode of operation. This is the stage for which all companies that use or implement the hybrid work model should strive.
It brings all the benefits of combining office and homework, so employees can maintain the convenience of working remotely without losing the advantages associated with a regular presence in the office. In this situation, ties between employees themselves, as well as between employees and the company, are nurtured on both levels (online and offline), which translates into their commitment and further increases inefficiency. In addition, this model provides the company with the flexibility and speed needed to respond to changing market needs.