Collaboration has always been the talk of the town. Companies must make themselves relevant to the market by NOT reinventing the wheel and NOT offering services that do not make sense of the market. An excellent collaborative culture and structure are therefore a must. But the collaboration has been under tremendous pressure with companies finding the right balance between remote and onsite work.
One of our clients asked for evidence to change a non-existing ‘Work From Home approach’ to an explicit ‘Hybrid Working Policy’.
They knew from their past Organizational Network Diagnostics that location was their main collaboration barrier. Was this still the same now that people worked in a hybrid way and everyone cam to the office on different days?
It was clear that the company needed to be more disciplined with its collaboration. With the current approach of not having an explicit policy, collaboration got eroded and centered around a couple of people risking collaboration burnout.
Before working in a hybrid way, the level of collaboration inside this company was high. Collaboration was distributed well. People knew where they needed to go to to optimize collaboration. When the company embraced working from home without an explicit policy on how to do this, this was painfully changed.
The collaboration networks of more than 2/3 of the workforce shrunk on average by 36% – with only a handful of people being sought out for collaboration.
This caused a risk for the few who others relied on for collaboration, because how long could they take this before facing a ‘collaboration burnout’? It also caused a risk to their growth expectations. The company had been growing in the past year and was expected to grow further. This, therefore, made up for a risky setup for collaboration.
The decline in collaboration was not only an issue seen among the people who decided to work from home more than from the office. No matter whether you worked from the office 100%, from home 100%, or just in between, the collaboration schrank dramatically.
This makes sense. When you work from the office every day of the week, you cannot necessarily build your collaborative networks as you did before. The people you meet in the office every day are different people.
The common collaboration barriers as mentioned earlier were still the same. Department, role, tenure, and hierarchy were still clear barriers. However, they got another major collaboration barrier that needed to be addressed in their new Hybrid Working Policy: the number of days working from home.
The Hybrid Working Policy was not about the number of how many days per week you were allowed to work from home. The Hybrid Working Policy was about how the company supported the people in making meaningful relationships.
The new Hybrid Working Policy focused on being intentional about who should work when in the office, and what should they collaborate on. It was clear that this was not about having a statement on a piece of paper. It was about supporting the people in making this decision with evidence-based insights on the collaboration networks. This support was orchestrated by Human Resources – making them an impactful partner in the connectivity and well-being of their people.
Learn from this company!
Learn that you cannot have a laissez-faire attitude to hybrid working. It is a new collaboration barrier that cannot be fixed by the people themselves. Their window to the company has decreased. They do not see the same people anymore. You need to have a company-wide Hybrid Working Responsibility – not a Policy.
Learn that a Hybrid Working Responsibility must be based on an evidence-based network approach. You need to have evidence on your organizational networks to bring together the right people for the right purpose. When the facts are made transparent on what the impact is of a company’s conscious or unconscious biases, people can change their behavior that matches the future organization: thriving collaboration in a place where remote and on-site work happens!