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How Hybrid Work Impacts Organizational Behavior And Performance

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How Hybrid Work Impacts Organizational Behavior And Performance

On the face of it, transitioning from pandemic-enforced remote work to hybrid work should have been easy. Most leaders have extensive experience managing in-office environments and COVID gave us two years of remote management experience. It should have been easy to transition to hybrid work. But it’s proving to be more of a challenge than we anticipated. 

The Four Types of Hybrid Work

There are four types of hybrid work models, based on the flexibility, or lack thereof, that is given to your people to decide how, when, and where they work. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. 

  • The first type is where the company mandates which days of the week employees must come into the office. 
  • The second is where the team decides how often and when people will come into the office 
  • The third type is where the individual makes the decision on when to come into the office, based on their needs 
  • The fourth is the blended needs type, where certain functions in the company allow for flexible work while other functions require in-person interaction.

Benefits of Hybrid Work

One of the benefits of a hybrid work environment, depending on the type of model chosen, is the increased flexibility and autonomy for employees. Remote work can provide employees with more control over how, when, and where they work, leading to increased job satisfaction and motivation. This can also lead to improved work-life balance, which can have a positive impact on employee well-being and mental health and a knock-on effect on performance. 

The transition to a hybrid work culture can also lead to challenges for organizations and these challenges will have a negative impact on performance. According to research from Gallup, the top hybrid work challenges are

  • Less access to work resources and equipment
  • Feel less connected to the organization’s culture
  • Decreased team collaboration
  • Impaired working relationships with coworkers
  • Reduced cross-functional communication and collaboration
  • Disrupted processes
  • More difficult to coordinate work schedules, tasks, and timelines

Overcoming the Loss of Office Osmosis

Office osmosis is the gradual process of assimilating ideas and knowledge from our working environment. It happens naturally as a result of being in close proximity to our colleagues, who we observe and listen to. We probably aren’t aware of how much we relied on osmosis when we were in the office 5 days a week. But it was responsible for a lot of the learning that happened.  We learnt through osmosis about the informal and less obvious things, like how different teams and the organization operated and solved problems. We learnt about what was acceptable or unacceptable behavior. Through osmosis, we got a sense of the underlying culture currents that exist in the organization.

A major challenge for leaders in a hybrid environment is that office osmosis will either be Less effective, or it won’t happen at all. This means that people aren’t assimilating ideas and knowledge in the same way they were when everyone was in the office 5 days a week. That’s having a negative effect in two areas. It’s impacting their ability to work and slowing their personal development down. It may not be obvious but that’s how hybrid work friction works.

Leaders may try to preserve osmosis to a certain degree by mandating the number of days a week that everybody must work in the office. The problem is you can’t expect osmosis to happen just because your people are in the office 2 or 3 days a week. If you think about it, office osmosis is now less likely to happen when they are in the office  because your people:

  • Won’t be in the office as often, or for as long as before.
  • Are attending more meetings when they are in the office
  • Your people Won’t have as much free time to connect with and observe their colleagues.
  • There will be less serendipity and fewer watercooler moments

The result is that your people won’t get the benefits of osmosis in the same way they would have done if they were in the office 5 days a week. The loss of osmosis is an underlying cause of the challenges of hybrid work. To avoid a negative impact on both organizational behavior and performance, leaders need to think about developing other solutions that encourage the transmission of information and learning, that would have happened through osmosis.

Challenges of Hybrid Work

Another challenge for leaders to consider is the potential for increased isolation and disconnection among remote workers. Remote workers may feel disconnected from the organization and their colleagues, leading to lower job satisfaction and motivation. Additionally, it is easy for remote workers to feel less engaged and less invested in the organization’s goals and objectives, which will negatively impact performance.

An important strategy for managing the transition to a hybrid work culture is to provide clear guidelines and expectations for remote work. This includes outlining expectations for availability, communication, and work schedule. As we can see from the Gallup poll challenges, when working remotely, employees need access to the necessary tools and resources to work effectively.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the transition to a hybrid work culture has brought both benefits and challenges to organizational behavior and performance. Organizations need to be aware of these potential impacts and develop strategies to manage them effectively. This can include implementing effective communication and collaboration strategies, providing clear guidelines and expectations for remote work, and providing remote workers with the necessary tools and resources to work effectively. A good example of a highly effective tool is the Managing Hybrid Teams Course by CultureGene. By managing the transition effectively, organizations can reap the benefits of a hybrid work culture while minimizing the potential negative impacts on organizational behavior and performance.

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