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hybrid office

Why Hybrid Is Not Working For You

Many of us are twelve to eighteen months into Hybrid work

We have seen many thought leaders and business leaders have their say, whether it is good or bad for their business. 

For the most part, we have been working on a variety of “hybrid” since March 2020. It is not new and despite being frustrating at times, businesses just haven’t reshaped their own business to make this workplace environment work correctly. 

Some industries have fully embraced hybrid, invested in the right infostructure, the right tools, the right ‘in office’ cadence and been flexible to accommodate the new requirements during the pandemic. 

Others have defaulted back to full-time in the office, often stating culture and then performance as the main drivers for returning fully to the office. 

When questioned the move back to the office full time is about a control culture.

The hardest decision many leaders have had to make is what is right for this business and how can we shape the business to be performance first and many landing on pre-March 2020 setups. 

Why is hybrid not working? 

Software 

  • Many have forced fit the wrong software to attempt hybrid work 
  • Many companies are relying on software to make the hard decisions for them – software will never make the right decision for your specific business it builds for mass problems, not your business problems 
  • Businesses have replaced whiteboard sessions and idea sessions with Mural or Miro and the ideas still are not revisited and creating a worse experience
  • Poor software choice makes ‘time’ a more important factor and highlights when you feel like you are wasting time 
  • Businesses have moved to default chat rather than default work, a lot of chat happens and is signalling in chat apps (like slack and teams) but this often means context is lost, a lot of conversation requires translation and delivery slows 

Meetings 

  • We have relied too much on meetings and working in meetings in real-time, meaning there is no time for deep thought or intentional thought and analysis 
  • Meetings are often taking 60% or more of people’s work time, this is not allowing time for deep work or true collaboration 
  • Almost every business fails their teams by not allowing their teams to succeed with the right agenda templates, with the most efficient ways of communicating post meeting  
  • Many have not discussed or worked with those companies who made the decision to go hybrid or fully remote. Learning from others and hiring these as consultants will help to reshape your business 
  • The common complaint is decisions are only made in meetings and follow-up actions get lost 

Culture 

  • We have allowed managers to have their own rules and many middle management are used to policing in person and trust is secondary 
  • Lack of training for hybrid work and training managers who are used to in line of sight management 
  • There were limited workstreams to build intentional hybrid culture – more than just a few quizzes and getting everyone in the office on a specific date, culture requires dedicated workstreams, workshops, departmental principles created, what is good and bad hybrid behaviours. 
  • There has been a lack of reshaping of the HR team to accommodate hybrid, many not having the training or trust to help support and train managers in hybrid environments, all combining in culture taking a hit
  • The leadership team have struggled to designate one culture community manager to build a hybrid culture and reward away from department leads and traditional HR methodologies 

Workplaces / Environment 

  • The office was not reshaped and is not an environment helping to make work fair 
  • Home is still not considered by most as a workplace despite having worked from home for many years, often to get their head down. The definition of home should be replaced with workplace home and considered a place for deep work 
  • Many businesses have not enabled their workforce to understand if it is private, semi-private, semi-public or public work, meaning many are in the wrong locations for important fully private work. Private is financial work, important one to ones, layoffs, reshaping your department, and pitching to management. Many one-to-one’s took place in coffee shops were semi-public, and team meetings are often semi private as the content of the discussion or working session and should not be held in an open space or in open coworking spaces

Ways to address hybrid issues 

  • Have the courage to make important decisions in improving the core areas, software, meeting, culture and workplace. If it means running tests or trialling these, it important to build these muscles  
  • Build out the right hybrid software stack, create a list of requirements and why current tools do not work and what you require from specialist tools. Many tools will be low cost and reduce friction versus being seen as an additional cost 
  • Create pods to tackle these core issues, no leaders usually mean no action  
  • Use statuses to reduce interruptions, green, amber, red lights to encourage fewer interruptions and allow more focus 
  • Make the intentional shift to async work, embrace more thought-written debates – remove the need to quickly ping someone a brain dump of thoughts in mass groups 
  • Leverage new tech, offer the ability to use audio notes, to record a “Story” based on the spreadsheet to explain why it is formatted this way, embrace wiki’s and formats that encourage thoughtful comms 
  • Remove the real-time decision-making by creating one and two pagers to really inform and keep colleagues abreast of the most important information. The best companies have created templates and frameworks for their teams to use. Very often the best Product Teams have this already and could be tweaked for the other departments to adopt 
  • Always justify why this meeting wasn’t an email in the meeting request 
  • Build out the right frameworks and templates to improve meetings and making the decision does this need to be a meeting or a working group. Internal costs of meetings and meeting recovery syndrome are core problems within a business that many are overlooking or misunderstanding the knock-on effects of 
  • Remove proximity bias, in sight management is hard, hybrid is harder, bring in coaches and training companies to help retrain managers and improve the quality of management within your business  
  • Build out EQ frameworks, remove IQ and PQ as the main incentivise drivers within your business  
  • Make the office a workspace more equal (be inspired by LinkedIn hybrid approach to the office)
  • Ask for feedback from the team on how to improve core sticking points 
  • Rephrase working from home or working from anywhere to workplace home/workplace coworking / workplace satellite office.

Good luck creating the right environments for hybrid to succeed. Hybrid is more a choice, it is a working style that requires iteration and intentional leadership.

Resources To Support Your Move To Hybrid 

The free hybrid work guide

Designing the hybrid office guide  

Simple ways to improve company culture 

Ten misunderstandings of good company culture

How to connect with company leadership team

What makes great hybrid leaders and hybrid managers 

Categories
hybrid office

LinkedIn New Hybrid Office The New Office Standard?

Something that many companies are attempting is to reshape their work to enable hybrid work.

LinkedIn has been deliberate in their approach to reshaping their work for the hybrid office to leverage tech efficiently to encourage better hybrid working environments.

Having worked in small family businesses to large listed companies, the office is a workplace that can often be a competitive advantage and create environments of trust centred around people and performance.

LinkedIn’s reshape is one of the standard redesigns to be proudly shown and here is a great video (below) from the WSJ.

LinkedIn Hybrid Office – Workplace Design

The Breakdown:

The name: “Building 1”, it spreads across six floors and is designed for up to 1500 people.

What did they change?

  • Old: 1080 workstations – 1 employee 1 desk
  • New: 569 workstations with 75 different types of seating
  • Changing other workspaces into new spaces and a variety of spaces to encourage deep work and focus and quick collaborative meetings.
  • Desks turned into seats to encourage more flexible working styles and use cases (not just booths)
  • LinkedIn adopted to ‘Neighbourhoods’ – half alternative seating and work spaces and half traditional where teams can work (these are currently non-designated seats, not restricting collaboration and encouraging hotdesking).
  • Designed with people first in mind: their methodology was: the amount of time in the space x activity with ergonomics = output.
  • Unassigned decks so neighbourhoods are completely flexible
  • Meeting Rooms Reimagined
    • LinkedIn attempted to remove the formalities in formal meeting rooms to enable hybrid work (those working from home versus those sitting in the meeting room)
    • Hybrid collaboration is key, with the new tech built into the meetings room where cameras point at the whiteboard so it makes it a clear and collaborative experience is key to embracing hybrid work
  • Introduced new co-working spaces
    • One new space is the cafe, coffee space and co-working space (this is becoming more common and reducing the need for many 1-2-1’s from going out for coffee or having to meet in other locations)
    • Adding in more booths – smaller time periods and collaboration space
  • “Leading with trust”

One standout was the LinkedIn approach to the future of work being an opportunity to experiment and learn from the data.

Is this the future of the office? Right now it is the closest to companies really rethinking work and rethinking what workplaces should be.

Need More Helpful Resources?

Hybrid Work Tools & Hybrid Software Guide

The Hybrid Work & Hybrid Meetings Guide

How To Win At Hybrid Office Politics?

Leaders Letter 85 – The Only Way Non-Traditional Office Work Works Is If Leaders Lead

Categories
Anonymous Career Advice

Should We Re-onboard Our Teams?

Dear focus, we are a series a startup, we are inviting our teams back into the office, something we are struggling with hybrid is how do we get everyone connected, will onboarding help make us efficient? 

It is great to see you are setting the new norms today.

The short answer is Yes! The secret to success for any business in covid is always and regularly re-onboard. 

The new office environment should likely be an arena vs being your traditional office, even in countries where people have returned to the office frequently, the office operates for more collaboration and performance vs headphones in trying to concentrate like many offices were in early 2020. 

As suggested in the return to the office guide

You should always re-onboard teams who are re-entering the office and entering the office at different times. The key with any return to the office is understanding that hybrid is multi-location and generally working online as location really should not be a point of contention in the hybrid work world. 

Playbook For Success

This means when returning into the ‘central space’ you require autonomy, you require the right guidelines and the most important question to answer is:
Why you are inviting teams in on a specific day or for specific reasons?  

One of the core flaws many businesses are operating in with hybrid is when teams are coming into the office they are doing it to have everyone face to face as they believe this builds more trust, reconnects teams and allows teams to get to know each other. 

Some of this is true, some are not as true, particularly when you take into consideration status games and hierarchy, personality types and how familiar teams are with working in person, many have always worked indirectly and asynchronously. 

Sales will naturally crave returning to the office, whereas Dev and Product teams may prefer not to return. Marketing may enjoy a couple of days per month, whereas Finance might prefer working remotely. Those whose roles are collaborative may actually have a new cadence that works best for them remotely, especially ticket-based activities vs being pipeline based. 

Guidelines = Win

Guideline 1: Written rules work best. 

Guideline 2: Create clear guidance for your teams coming back into the office: 

  • Pre read including 
  • Objective 
  • Agenda 
  • What success looks like from hybrid and being in the office 

Guideline 3: It is essential to ensure any important decisions are made are documented and shared officially with hybrid colleagues or those unavailable to come into the office. Wiki’s and knowledge centres are always best. 

No Tier 2 Systems

You have to have inclusive work and never a two-tier system of citizen a (who can come into the office) vs citizen b (those who cannot attend) and be flexible for commute times etc. 

Something to keep front of mind: some teams will want to and proactively opt-out of wanting to come back to office even if it is just for a day a week or makes less sense for their teams, if you decide it is some teams or departments in and some out – you have to remove proximity bias and create a deliberate communication and feedback loop based company. Companies that will succeed in hybrid work will be deliberate in communicating, typically moving forward asynchronously.

Important areas to keep in mind throughout the re-onboarding process: 

  • New work tensions – these are natural upon the first few times of reconnecting and meeting new team mates 
  • New relationships – there will be teams who have brand new colleagues and have to form brand new relationships it is essential you let these grow organically. Many who formed a strong bond online often struggle in real life, consider this. 
  • F2F – First time face to face for team members are often the hardest, be prepared to offer a game or an exercise to go through. Potentially consider the get to know me 4 question game
  • Team bonding can be organised – but the balance to enabling it to organic. There should be as much bonding as work for the first two meetings 
  • New locations within the office or specialist neighbourhoods – there will be many offices that look different, they operate differently and many have been reshaped, it is important that this is my desk or this was my desk to be addressed and discussed if you are rolling our hot desk only. 

Blending IRL and online first is going to be a challenge for every business, building the hybrid company culture norms is going to be key to your success. 

Good luck in your return to the office and remember if you work out quickly that the office just is not working, you can 

Important elements to also keep in mind in hybrid 

Reduce mirror anxiety 

Hybrid politics 

What makes great remote leaders

Designing the hybrid office

Will a strict return to the office work?

Categories
hybrid office

How Are You Reducing Mirror Anxiety?

Recently Stanford researchers coined the phrase mirror anxiety, it is the concerns and anxiety that has surfaced in looking at ourselves on video conferencing all day. 

In the upcoming hybrid work world, do we need to be staring at a screen and part of multiple synchronous video-based conversations to make decisions, to gain consensus and to develop out ideas? 

Is this something you truly believe is right for your business? 

Or is there a better way of addressing this? 

Although this seems to be individual concerns, this is having negative company culture issues.

Categories
hybrid office

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella: The Hybrid Work Paradox

Recently the Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella called out hybrid work, and the challenge in getting it right. 

This is a challenge almost every organisation is battling with, especially with almost every country and US state having a different approach to COVID and handling different and ever-evolving scenarios. 

Satya Nadella was quoted as suggesting
“Short-term productivity goes up, long-term creativity goes down”. 

With quant data and qual data, many CEO’s and business are reporting and experiencing similar challenges. 

Learn Lessons From Remote Organisations 

Where many organisations are getting this wrong, is by not discussing how remote companies have had successes, companies like Gitlab (Gitlab all remote guide is brilliant) and Automattic (the Automattic podcast is great) have been successful in operating in a fully remote fashion. 

Learning from what makes great hybrid and remote leaders is going to help improve your operations and organisations health. 

There Is No One Size Fits All

Satya isn’t the only CEO suggesting the same, Facebook, Apple, Dropbox and Slack have all come at Hybrid from different perspectives with different solutions and ever-changing return to the office dates. 

Google’s is it ok to manifesto went viral across LinkedIn and has helped some businesses rethink how they approach this evolving working situation.

No one company has nailed hybrid but many are making significant progress.

The Study Was Too Early 

The study that was undertaken with Microsoft employees is a great read, however, the study was from the first six months of the virus and does not account for 2021 data and the way we have adapted and changed over the last 12 months. 

Large Company Battles

Companies the size of Microsoft have a number of battles to fight, the first is safety, the second is productivity and the third is keeping shareholders happy. 

Keeping staff happy, engaged and helping to balance work demands, home demands and burnout is something every business has to be proactively managing and addressing. 

Ensuring teams are productive while away from the office (or working in hybrid) is challenging almost every team member, manager and company leader. 

Shareholders are always looking for returns, getting the most of the staff is one of the main concerns for any CEO, especially for companies the size of Microsoft. 

The way we work in office environments has changed: 

  • The demand for video calls increased, 
  • The demand for more meetings increased, 
  • The way we continue meeting conversations has evolved, 
  • “The water cooler moments” decreased 
  • The way we keep connected has changed and the great unfollow has started to happen

The intentional and deliberate way we address these changing working methods has fallen behind and should be in the most pressing items to address as any leader of any business. 

One of our core recommendations is the requirement for a culture community manager for those companies with over 30 people. 

So is Satya right or wrong about Hybrid?

Unfortunately, in this situation, every company is different, every company requires their own approach, however with hybrid being deliberate and intentional with the 3C’s: Connection, Communication and Collaboration is key to winning.

Getting Hybrid Right

The future of the required for a large office (or series of offices) is under review, the long term future of work is no doubt hybrid, creating a highly engaged, connected and productive workforce is going to be something we learn to develop and “perfect” over time. 

Are You Struggling With Hybrid? Here Is Our Free Guide 

Here are other great resources to help you with hybrid: 

Categories
hybrid office Leadership

What Makes Great Remote and Hybrid Leaders

The burning 2021 and beyond question to answer:

What makes a great remote and hybrid work leader?

In the move to hybrid work, we have seen many reports suggest hybrid and remote work is going to hinder performance, we will see company culture become toxic, it will slow the development of younger members of staff and we will encounter higher staff turnover while having to completely change the way things are done. 

With all of these points reported, there are very few resources that offer advice on what actually makes a great remote manager and a great hybrid leader. 

Here are the five categories and qualities that make brilliant distributed and hybird leaders:  

Connection  

  • Helps to guide and direct teams
  • Connects work together with teams  
  • Champions the team and their connections 
  • Builds better internal networks – constantly looking to improve the nodes between the department’s networks particularly cross-functionally. 

Awareness  

  • Keeps the heartbeat going throughout the business 
  • Ensure work progresses at the right pace 
  • Sits across workstreams and keep ahead of the potential issues or jumps into action when required 
  • Check’s in and check’s out at the right amount per team member 
  • Understands when there will be a requirement for personnel change, to bring in the right external consultancy or add or replace the supporting agency
  • Ability to be aware if a Team A and Team B mentality starts within the business and removes any issues
  • Helps to monitors how people are feeling alongside their performance 

Organisational  

  • Helps to set the right priorities 
  • Helps to realign or prioritise where required 
  • Helps to shape deadlines and is available for when their teams need guidance 
  • At hand to review the team’s task list when struggling or hit a large bump in the road(map) 
  • Coaching and mentoring those around them pairing awareness and connection 
  • Understands when it is time to train team members in their new environment or when it might be time to let their team member go for performance issues 

Productive

  • Applies EQ and IQ and understands when to apply 
  • Is happy in doing (delivering the tactics) and thinking long term (keeping up with the company-wide strategy) 
  • Is alongside the team in getting things done and helping to set the right goals 
  • Knows when to step away or step up for their team and the project they are delivering 

Communication  

  • Good writer, detailed and deliberate comms in an asynchronous world helps  improve the flow of communication and wins in the hybrid workforce 
  • Understands when to send a detailed update, when to create a short, articulate deck or to speak to those people “face to face”
  • Understands that a quick self-recorded video will land better and have more  impact with their team members than rely on a long email chain 
  • Can understand when a video meeting (zoom, teams etc) is going to be important vs an audio-only meeting or a walk and talk meeting 

These five categories will help guide you and your management team to build out better teams and improving managers in the hybrid and remote work world. 

Two Invaluable Resources 

Categories
hybrid office

Hybrid Work Tools & Hybrid Software Guide

A hybrid work set-up can seem daunting and appear challenging for many organisations making the switch to the hybrid office.

With Focus’ commitment to helping to fix the broken world of work, the following tools have been tried and tested with Focus customers and coaching clients and come recommended with clients requiring help with their move Hybrid.

Read Our Free 35 Page Comprehensive Guide:
The Hybrid Work Guide

The tools are alternatives to what you and your teams may have used or the best software available on the market. 

It is important to understand with Hybrid work tools and hybrid software there are minimum requirements including:

  • Being cloud-based aka usable anywhere 
  • Many third-party integrations, reducing the need for multiple tabs to be open at once and working on many apps is not required 
  • Simplicity as standard: Easy to learn for all users and does not require expensive onboarding is essential 
  • A need to work across all browsers and devices is a minimum 
  • Multiplayer as standard (show who is editing and where and being able to have conversations within the app is important 
  • Keyboard commands and quick commands lines to reduce user friction 
  • Quick and auto save and tracking edits is essential 
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hybrid office

The Hybrid Work & Hybrid Meetings Guide

The Hybrid Work & Hybrid Meetings Guide

Guide By FocusDanny Denhard – Released July 2021. Updated September 2021.

Guide Audience: C-Suite, Founders, HR Leads, Operation Directors & Digital Transformation leads

The Intro 

We are about to embark on a brand new journey, a hybrid journey. 

July 1st was a landmark date for the business epicentre New York, July 19th is a landmark date in England, many other businesses in Asia, Australia and New Zealand have moved back to the office and are working in the hybrid model. 

The tech giants have suggested 3 days a week, Apple’s 3 days a week in the office has come under fire from their employees, Google has experienced similar feedback and smaller companies are wrestling with how to make hybrid office work for their business.  

Other large brands have stayed consistent in their messaging Facebook and Salesforce have been clear that Hybrid is in their long term future and Slack have moved to a digital first mentality. 

While Dropbox has changed the language they use, their office (now named  Studio’s) setup to encourage more collaboration and deliberate hours.  

We are re-entering the world of work where businesses will be experiencing the previously hotly discussed topics such as: 

  • Who ate my avocado? 
  • Are you using my cup? 
  • Did you really book this meeting room? 
  • And are you using my iPhone charger?   

Will businesses be prepared to handle these micro-moments where these silly annoyances didn’t happen for so long. 

Throughout this Hybrid workplace guide, you will see Hybrid Tip: to help you act upon important lessons and learnings from other businesses to help you and your business win Hybrid.  

Many businesses will look for the ‘magic moment’ in the new Hybrid set-up, it is important you celebrate small wins along the journey and micro moments as a company, this will ensure you make a celebrated and smoother transition to Hybrid.
The magic moment will be a journey, however, you have likely made good progress while in lockdown/quarantine periods.  

Many businesses who made the Hybrid switch pre-2020 celebrated small wins such as product releases, Hybrid offsites and Hybrid training sessions that develop teams collectiveness and delivery. 

Categories
Business Performance hybrid office

Dropbox Studios Vs Traditional Office Set Up

Dropbox: The Virtual First Plan – Will It Work?

From removing the word hybrid to changing offices to studio’s, Dropbox has made a deliberate act in changing their future of work.

How: 

  • Reshaping their offices and renaming to Studios 
  • Why? 
    • 1/ Building more space 
    • 2/ Offering more freedom
  • Consider interpersonal connection around meeting spaces 
  • Offering one employee experience not two to ensure everyone has a fair career trajectory and remove any inequalities 
  • Shaping employees days helped meeting time vs deep work time, individual work vs teamwork and the need for collaboration. 
Categories
Company Culture Leadership

Lessons From Apple’s 3 Day A Week Return To The Office Situation

Apple recently wrote to their employees and suggested they were going to be rolling out a three day work from the office rule to start in September.

With the ever-evolving Covid landscape, Apple is now moving September to October’s plan to hybrid work, something to keep in mind Apple is certain locations have seen staff come to work 3:2.

Tim Cook (the Apple CEO) suggested in an internal memo that most employees will be asked to come into the office on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays.

Many tech firms have landed at three days per week back in the office. This shows how important to the business is that internal collaboration, proximity and secrecy plays vital roles to the business.

Apple’s Past Leading The Future?

Apple is a product company and is notorious for secrecy, keeping their tech projects top secret and reducing any leaks is their primary objective.