5 min read

Making Hybrid Work

Making Hybrid Work

The hybrid work model has been increasing in adoption since the pandemic. The analysis of thousands of tasks and jobs across multiple countries indicates that more than 20% of the workforce could work as effectively, not losing productivity, in a hybrid model. This data from McKinsey & Company underscores the viability and necessity of adopting a hybrid approach.  

Making hybrid work thrive involves an environment that emphasizes communication, connection, collaboration, and creation. Coincidentally, these are the same pillars upon which robust hybrid learning environments are built.  

Hybrid learning has been utilized for many years. Among the insights of InSync’s 2024 research report, "Hybrid Learning: How to Engage Learners and Produce Real Outcomes" we find valuable lessons for enhancing hybrid work cultures. The findings reveal several parallel needs and strategies between hybrid learning and hybrid work environments, including: 

Designing with intention: Similar to instructional content, work policies and practices in a hybrid environment must be deliberately designed for such settings. Without this intentionality, the result can be a disjointed experience that may leave remote team members feeling excluded.  

Fostering inclusivity: The negative reaction learners have when they feel excluded from delivery highlights the importance of inclusivity in the hybrid workplace. Ensuring every team member feels valued and included, regardless of their location, is crucial for maintaining engagement and morale.  

Strategic Design, Cohesion, and Inclusivity 

Strategic planning is essential to the success of hybrid work environments. With the dynamic nature of hybrid work, careful strategic planning becomes essential to encourage effective communication, maintain productivity, and uphold company culture. A well-thought-out strategy encompasses clear guidelines on remote work protocols, technological infrastructure, and performance management systems tailored to accommodate both in-person and remote collaboration. Strategic planning facilitates the implementation of flexible scheduling policies that accommodate diverse employee needs while ensuring operational continuity. By proactively addressing challenges such as team cohesion, work-life balance, and equitable opportunities for all employees, strategic planning lays the foundation for a thriving hybrid work environment conducive to innovation, collaboration, and sustained success. 

In addition, inclusivity plays a role in ensuring every team member feels valued and included. Creating a cohesive and engaging workplace is essential. The perception of hybrid instructional content as piecemeal poses a similar risk in hybrid work environments to what it does in learning environments. A unified strategy that smoothly integrates remote and in-office experiences is essential to prevent distractions and enhance overall effectiveness.  

The tendency of learners to disengage from poorly designed hybrid instruction mirrors the potential for employee disconnection in suboptimal hybrid work settings. Conversely, engagement levels can match or exceed traditional methods when the hybrid model is well-executed.  


Skill Development in Hybrid Settings 

A well-designed hybrid environment acts as a catalyst for skill development that can lead to significant company growth. Well-implemented hybrid learning not only educates but also imparts valuable collaboration and interaction skills. Similarly, thoughtfully structured hybrid work environments can serve as platforms for continuous skill development, equipping employees for the complexities of contemporary work dynamics.  

The Four C’s of Hybrid Work Culture: Communication, Connection, Collaboration, and Creation 

The four C’s - communication, connection, collaboration, and creation each contribute to the success of a hybrid work culture. The essence of a great hybrid work culture can be condensed into these four key components, as follows:  

Communication:  Effective communication is the heartbeat of any productive hybrid workspace. In the absence of clear communication norms, teams can become disjointed and misaligned. Providing various "non-live" communication platforms and establishing norms regarding their use—such as expected response times and level of detail in shared information—ensures a cohesive and efficient working environment.  

Connection:  Building a sense of connection among remote and in-office team members requires intentionality. Without feeling connected, employees can quickly become disengaged, impacting morale and productivity. This is just as true in a learning environment as it is in day-to-day operations. It's not just about adding some technology or tools; it's also about ensuring leaders are intentionally reaching out and making connections with their teams. Creating moments for informal virtual coffee chats or regular check-ins can foster a sense of belonging and community, bridging the gap between physical distances.  

Collaboration:  Collaboration is crucial in a hybrid setup, and technology plays a key role. Tools that facilitate seamless collaboration across global teams are not only necessary but expected. The technology should be intuitive, allowing for real-time engagement and cooperation on projects and learning tasks. Beyond just providing the tools, it's essential to cultivate an atmosphere of psychological safety where everyone feels encouraged to share their ideas. Ensuring that all voices are heard and valued leads to a more inclusive and innovative workplace, where diverse perspectives drive better outcomes.  

Creation: Creativity in hybrid work cultures manifests through the freedom and flexibility to brainstorm and innovate regardless of physical location. In a learning context, creativity leads to interactive and stimulating programs that encourage critical thinking and problem-solving abilities. The impact of stifling creativity in both environments can be far-reaching, leading to a decline in innovation and overall competitiveness of the training or business. 

Preparing individuals to excel in hybrid settings requires instilling skills essential for effective online and offline interactions. These skills extend from using the mediums by which we engage with colleagues, to how we participate in team-based activities, to how we integrate learning into daily work life.  

What Makes Hybrid Work?  

While the four C's are traits that everyone in the business should work to develop, there are also some systems and norms that should be put in place to help hybrid work smoothly. 

Easy Access to Non-Live Communication: It's critical to provide various channels for "non-live" communication and to establish norms for their use, such as expected responsiveness and requisite detailing. Just as this practice keeps a workforce connected and informed, it also propels a learning culture where queries and discussions can flow freely and asynchronously.  

Content Accessibility and Relevance: Whether it's the company knowledge base or the Learning Management System (LMS), content should be readily accessible and regularly updated. By embedding microlearning assets directly into the workflow, employees can apply new knowledge in real time, with the added benefit of tracking utility and relevance. This approach is further enhanced when employees can contribute feedback, fostering continuous improvement, and promoting a learning culture among their teams. 

Managerial Engagement and Top-Down Culture: Culture cascades downward; hence, managers must model the hybrid-friendly behaviors they expect from their teams. From how they interact to how they champion the use of tools and resources—leadership sets the tone for a thriving hybrid ecosystem.  

Insights from InSync Training's research on hybrid work illuminate the need for these systems. The report advocates well-crafted training design and delivery that support hybrid work. The intersection of work and learning is where individuals will become adept at navigating the fluidity of modern work environments.  

Reflecting on the Journey and Looking Ahead 

When aiming to foster a vibrant hybrid work culture, there are several critical points to take into consideration to ensure the success and cohesion of the team. First, clear and consistent communication channels must be established to facilitate seamless collaboration among remote and in-office employees. Regular team meetings, virtual check-ins, and transparent communication platforms help bridge geographical gaps and keep everyone informed and engaged. Second, cultivating a strong sense of trust and autonomy is essential to empower employees to succeed in both remote and office settings. Providing flexibility in work hours and embracing outcome-based performance evaluations fosters a culture of accountability and ownership.  

Third, prioritizing employee well-being by promoting work-life balance, and fostering a culture of empathy and understanding creates a supportive environment where individuals can thrive personally and professionally. Finally, investing in technology and infrastructure to enable smooth remote collaboration, provide access to necessary resources, and ensure equitable opportunities for all team members is paramount for building a cohesive and inclusive hybrid work culture. By prioritizing these critical points, organizations can create a vibrant hybrid work culture that promotes innovation, collaboration, and employee satisfaction. 

Hybrid Work and Hybrid Learning—a Perfect Match   

The crux of a high-performing hybrid culture lies in its core characteristics—flexibility, accessibility, and adaptability—enabled through solid communication, strong connections, collaborative efforts, and creative approaches to problem-solving. Whether it's the domain of work or learning, these traits are indispensable.  

For HR professionals, training managers, and practitioners, the task is clear. By nurturing these qualities within learning environments, we're implicitly equipping our workforce with the skills necessary to not only survive but thrive in hybrid work settings. In turn, these practices promise to enrich the organization's growth and cultivate an ethos of continuous learning and adaptability.  


If you would like to find out how to make hybrid work really work for your organization, book a complimentary call with one of InSync’s virtual learning experts.