Blog post

Getting Hybrid Right (and the Impact of Getting it Wrong)

By Tori Paulman | March 29, 2023 | 0 Comments

Information TechnologyCIO Leadership of Innovation, Disruptive Trends and Emerging PracticesCIO Leadership, Culture and PeopleDigital Workplace ApplicationsDigital Workplace Infrastructure and OperationsDigital Workplace Program

I’ve just finished my world tour of my presentation “How to Get Hybrid Right, and the Impact of Getting it Wrong”. From Phoenix AZ, London UK, Hollywood FL, and today Amsterdam NL and I’m full to the brim with so many stories from CIO Leadership Forums.

Today the World is at the Peak of Inflated Expectations for Hybrid Work

We believe the tools that enabled us to be successfully remote will deliver hybrid success, we have an environment (the office) that should meet our needs, and we have a vision for that success looks like. We’ve been sitting for so long at the peak of inflated expectations, we’re just relieved to be moving again. Remember back to July of 2021? We expected to be back in the office on September. But the Delta variant pushed us back. And then again, in November of 2021 we expected to be back on January. But Omicron quickly reset those expectations.

Tomorrow We Will Be Surfing the Trough of Disillusionment

You know what they say… what goes up, must come down. Clients as us all the time, “what are other organizations doing? In my industry, in my country, in my division…?” But we forget that the trough of disillusionment is where best practices are forged. But we can learn from others to speed up our own process. In my session I highlighted two best practices I’ve seen emerge:

Accountability With Autonomy: Schroders Employee-Driven Flexible Working Decisions Case Study highlights how an organization can link employee autonomy with accountability by creating a principle design that includes harmony between what the employee wants / needs, what the team needs to be successful, and finally what the overall organizations needs to deliver on for customers or citizens.

Making Mandates Make Sense: How do you make sense of all this and calm the chaos of individual choice? You need to come up with a pattern. The biggest challenge is that the most common pattern we see is specific number of days / week or specific days. It’s easy to see why this is unpopular, it also defies logic. Why would Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday be better than Monday or Friday for being together.

A more intentional approach uses work rituals to define together days. Take an agile team for example…

  • Every other Monday we come together to make a plan for our work. (Science shows we are more creative when we have tactile experiences, like white boards or sticky notes.)
  • Every other Thursday we show off our work. (It’s so much more fun to high-five in person rather than over video.)
  • Every other Friday we talk about what didn’t work well. (Constructive feedback as far better experience for everyone face-to-face. No more keyboard warriors.)
  • Then we layer in autonomy around the anchor days.

Getting Hybrid Right Will Require an Application Layer 

The applications that made us successful working remotely will not necessarily help us make hybrid successful. Vendors from a diverse set of markets such are creating application capabilities that will make hybrid work easier for organizations, leaders, and employees. Supporting visit planning and coordination between colleagues and managers and their teams, providing user interfaces that work on-the-go as well as embed in collaboration apps where workers spend most of their time.

Emerging capabilities are being developed to make coming to the office easier, nudge and remind employees, and advertise amenities and events to employees to motivate them to come in.

At Gartner our guiding principle is to provide expert guidance and tools to help our clients execute on their mission critical priorities. So it’s not an understatement to say this feedback I received after my session in Hollywood Florida made my year:

“Just before I came to this conference I sent an email to my leadership team that we were going to institute a mandate, but after attending this session, I’m going back to the drawing board on Monday morning with new data and insights.


Gartner clients and click the image below to see why hybrid does not equal flexibility.

The Gartner Blog Network provides an opportunity for Gartner analysts to test ideas and move research forward. Because the content posted by Gartner analysts on this site does not undergo our standard editorial review, all comments or opinions expressed hereunder are those of the individual contributors and do not represent the views of Gartner, Inc. or its management.

Comments are closed