Remote Selling Challenge #4: The New Hybrid Workplace

Meghan MacRae

4 minutes

Using the ThoughtExchange enterprise discussion management platform, we connected with 300 Fortune 1000 Revenue Leaders from across the continent to find out what obstacles to growth they were facing in 2021.

Who’s not wondering about the hybrid workplace right now? We’ve kept our productivity high at home, and now many of us are feeling uncertain about the future. 

At the beginning of the pandemic, you may have yearned for the buzz of the office. But by now, you’re probably used to the fewer distractions and more focus your home environment gives you. Plus, there’s been a shift in the market to adapt to a digital landscape, so what does that mean for you and your team? 

Many leaders are planning for a remote or hybrid remote future, at least 74 percent, according to a 2020 Gartner survey. Our Exchange survey reflected a similar trend—When we asked Revenue Leaders their plans for how their team would operate for 2021, a full 99 percent said they would be managing either a fully remote or hybrid remote workplace.

The Revenue Leaders we talked to were concerned about how to manage a return to the office, and what processes and tools they need for a hybrid workplace:

“Coming back to the office after being home for 1+ year. Manage consistent productivity.”

“We have reset and recharted growth, and I am not convinced the technology, systems, and processes we have or that are out there are built for a hybrid remote working environment.”

The main challenges here are managing yet another big shift in workplace structure to hybrid remote, working with the impact that has on productivity, and understanding how to effectively structure and manage a hybrid remote workplace. 

It’s no secret that remote work has proven itself in terms of productivity. What was once a rumored benefit of working from home, has been documented by Harvard Business Review with these remarkable statistics: employee productivity rose by 13 percent as soon as they opted into remote work, and nine months later, their productivity had increased by 22 percent.

It may be less about how to fully return to the office and more about how to make the best of both remote and in-person workplaces. Let’s look at a few of the key points below.

Lead Through Workplace Change

No one expected the sudden change from in-office work to remote work, so the switch was jarring and chaotic for many companies. However, this time around, you can take a more deliberate approach to how your workplace will be structured going forward.

Because of the increase in productivity many companies saw over the past year, remote work is no longer a trend—it looks like it’s here to stay. Some companies, like Twitter and Spotify, have embraced a fully remote workplace model. Others are looking at a hybrid remote workplace, where employees spend some time at home and some in the office. For example, the global IT services company TCS uses a 25/25 model for their hybrid workplace.

There are countless ways to structure a hybrid workplace that works for you and your employees. But what will make your model one that is easy to transition to and embraced by your team? That’s where your fearless leadership comes in, as well as a tool that will help you hear from all of your stakeholders.

  • Start the discussion before you’ve finalized your workplace structure. First, run an Exchange to understand your employees’ needs, concerns, and challenges around remote and hybrid remote work. Your team may have concerns or suggestions around how much time they’d like to spend in the office, how remote work impacts their team dynamics, or how many people will be in the office at any given time. With an initial exchange, you’ll uncover how many people share the same concerns and what obstacles need to be cleared to implement your new workplace model.
  • Run a cadence of Exchanges throughout the planning and implementing stages of your hybrid workplace shift. This way, you can stay ahead of emergent problems and spot the process gaps as they appear. Using a series of Exchanges instead of a series of meetings eliminates the loud bias, where whoever complains the loudest sets the agenda. 
  • Communicate Inclusively—It’s key to maintaining productivity in a remote environment. ThoughtExchange can help you keep your team executing on your strategy. In fact, McKinsey notes that in a remote work environment, “employees who feel included in more detailed communication are nearly five times more likely to report increased productivity.” With our anonymous sharing and anti-bias technology, you can be sure that everyone feels comfortable joining the discussion, and the ideas that rise to the top are the ones with the most support, regardless of who shared them.

If you’re looking to successfully set up and manage your hybrid remote workplace, check out this in-depth article we wrote about it, 3 Steps for a Hybrid Workplace Your People (and Profits) Will Love.

ThoughtExchange is built for the hybrid remote workplace because we’ve always been one. The powerful combination of open-ended questions and value-rich analytics means you’ll always have easy access to the data you need to lead effectively through any change. It will be your go-to tool in setting up and managing your hybrid remote workplace and in maintaining your employees’ productivity through the transition.

About the Author

Meghan MacRae

Meghan was raised by an English teacher, thus she found a way to incorporate her instinct for grammar and spelling into her career. She honed her corporate writing skills in clothing companies and the music industry, and brings a passion for creativity and playful wordsmithing to her work at ThoughtExchange. When she’s not crafting language that brings people together, she’s reading a thesaurus, playing Uno with her kids, cooking and singing and dancing, and collecting vinyl and art.