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Hybrid working becomes the new collaboration imperative

New report reveals that ‘astutely’ navigating work practices, spaces and culture will help respond to crisis, redefine the purpose and reinvent the future of work

As businesses respond to the Covid-19 crisis, the effects of the pandemic will bring about a new age of hybrid working, according to a survey from global communications company Poly.

Drawing on experts in the future of work, workspace design and psychology, Poly’s report Hybrid working: creating the next normal in work practices, spaces and culture set out the path to what the “new normal” will look like, where employees enjoy flexibility and choice, and businesses thrive through motivated, collaborative and productive teams.

Poly said that even before the pandemic, the nature of work was changing because the nature of business was changing. Today, few can claim that technology is a barrier to changing practices, but the lockdown has highlighted the need for investment into the cultural and behavioural components of flexible work, it added.

“The unfortunate circumstances experienced during the Covid-19 pandemic present an opportunity for businesses to challenge current thinking and shape a new future of work,” said Darrius Jones, executive vice-president and chief strategy officer at Poly. “The next normal is all about hybrid working moving to the mainstream as we respond, redesign and reinvent – flexible working across multiple locations, with immersive, productive workspaces that accommodate the workstyle of every employee.” 

Poly’s report outlined a number of key global trends for hybrid working spaces that will emerge in 2020 and beyond. It predicted that home offices will be given as much attention as the kitchen, evolving into ergonomically organised and crafted into places that inspire.

There will also be a prevalence of co-working, with organisations investing in co-working spaces in the outskirts of expensive cities to attract talent. Poly also believes group collaboration and social connections with colleagues and others will lead to cross-fertilisation of ideas, resulting in innovation.

One of the most significant observations in the report was from Megan Reitz, professor of leadership and dialogue at Hult Ashridge Business School, who said businesses need to “hardwire” fundamental habits into their teams’ culture in order to bring hybrid working teams together and ensure employees can speak up.

Read more about the post-lockdown workplace

For teams to be agile, innovative, ethical and compassionate, Poly’s report says work cultures need to be inclusive, inquiring and purpose-driven. Specifically, that means recognising that while diverse teams do better, companies must be able to harness and appreciate difference and that one-size management does not fit all. Employees will respond differently to hybrid working and managers must learn the skills to inquire, be curious and ask questions.

Poly said it was also seeing a well-overdue widening of purpose and this focus on impact will serve as a compass in times of change and make for a more meaningful workplace.

“Technology has a big role to play in creating the next normal, powering new workflows between people and places and enabling seamless communication and collaboration so that virtual teams are motivated and engaged,” said Jones. “If we respond, redesign and reinvent, we can meet challenges head-on and constantly evolve with any changes we may face.”

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