StefaNikolic / iStock
The hybrid workforce is shaping up to be the future of how and where employees get their work done. Hybrid work models are not just a new trend when we talk about the pandemic-induced disruptions companies have experienced over the last year, they are in high demand and increasingly popular among employees.
Large companies are starting to take notice. Microsoft, Ford and Target have already announced their plans for a hybrid model. Google came out against a hybrid model and said all employees must return to the office full-time, then quickly had to pivot after receiving pushback from employees. The hybrid work model, whether companies are prepared or not, is top of mind for employees.
As business and HR leaders continue to define what work will look like post-pandemic, and begin developing plans for a hybrid work model, there will be one topic at the center of the conversation: business reorganization.
Will teams that have been working remotely for more than a year be required to come back to the office? How will implementing a hybrid work model effect the reporting structure and hierarchy of teams? Does physical location still matter when it comes organizational design? These are questions HR and business leaders are struggling to answer. But as always, the market drives changes. HR will have to balance priorities and redesign how work gets done. With a return to the office on the horizon, even in a hybrid capacity, businesses need to prioritize business reorganization now before it’s too late. Preserving the autonomy and creativity that more flexible work arrangements made possible will be the key.
Retaining and Improving New Processes
During the pandemic, the companies that were most resilient and creative achieved their objectives in new ways. But it’s important to recognize that the way work gets done is every bit as critical as the achievement itself. The task in front of HR now is to keep what matters the most from the new methods teams used to innovate and successfully fulfill their missions.
Employees were empowered in unprecedented ways during the crisis. In many cases, employees were allowed to operate autonomously out of necessity, which resulted in simpler organizational structures or simpler teams. Employees also had the technology and tools they needed to communicate with team members and collaborate on complex projects to reach their goals.
HR’s task now is to build a structure that preserves those qualities. HR can create an organization that keeps the empowerment that supercharged employee creativity and encourages the communication and collaboration that allowed the organization to achieve extraordinary results. The key will be to retain those capabilities in the organization’s DNA while redefining processes. In order to accomplish this, however, businesses need to utilize data and technology to see what processes and policies employees think are working, and what needs to be refined and improved.
The Role of Data and Technology in Reorganization
The good news is that HR has new sources of information to understand employee sentiment. Employee experience platforms in addition to other sources of information can be used to determine a post-pandemic operating model. HR can do a diagnostic exercise to understand where the organization is now and model scenarios to select a new organizational structure.
To reorganize the workforce in a way that preserves the agility companies discovered they were capable of during the pandemic, HR needs to have the data and technology in place to identify and assess trends and convert them into business opportunities. Gathering the necessary data is essential, but so is a framework that allows HR to determine data quality and analyze it for meaningful insights.
That said, there’s evidence that many HR departments aren’t prepared to extract the full value of available data and technology. According to an ongoing HR competency study conducted by Dave Ulrich, a university professor and cofounder of the RBL Group, the weakest competency in HR departments today is mobilizing information. In other words, at many companies, HR is not taking advantage of data and analytics as well as it could. To successfully redesign how work gets done, HR will need to utilize trustworthy, real-time data and analytics that allow them to determine the right organizational structure for the next normal.
Redesigning How Work Gets Done
Over the last year, with a clear vision and empowered team members who work together seamlessly, companies proved that almost anything is possible. Now, with hybrid work models gaining popularity and a sense of normalcy returning, it’s up to HR to create a new organizational structure that keeps that spirit going in the months and years ahead. It is all about strategic agility, rather than strategic planning. HR has the power to redesign how work gets done. Keeping what matters most to employees and leveraging data to provide meaningful insights will be the key to their success.