The Hybrid Work Balancing Act: Can we rehumanise the workplace and still work remotely?

blog change design hybrid work Oct 06, 2023

Can we rehumanise the workplace and still work remotely?

First published on COMUNiTI, October 2023

Many organisations continue to question their position on hybrid work. And it’s understandable, given that it’s such a multifaceted challenge.


On one hand, leaders are thinking about what’s best for the business:

🧐  Are people productive when they work at home?

🧐  What does hybrid work mean for our investment in office space?

🧐  If people don’t work from the office full-time, should they still ‘own’ a desk?


And on the other hand, they’re considering what’s best for employees:

🤔   If we introduce a ‘number of in-office days’ policy, does it erode trust and trigger turnover?

🤔  How do we balance the need for individual flexibility and team connection?

🤔  What impact is hybrid work having on culture?

As they ponder these questions and more, they often ask COMUNiTI for our insights. And while there’s no one-size-fits-all answer, we do believe that humanising the approach to hybrid work is best for people and performance. 

So, what does a humanised approach to hybrid practically mean? Here are just two examples:


Motivating over mandating

At COMUNiTI, we advocate for motivating rather than mandating a return to the office. In other words, to encourage employees back, you have to earn the commute

  • It means asking the right questions to understand what is important to different sections of your workforce, and then putting measures in place to make sure that the work environment facilitates their work styles and practices. Neurodiversity in teams means its important to offer a variety of spaces to support productivity — not just meeting rooms and rows of desks. We all need variety.
  • It also means designing purpose into the in-office days — whether its team building, collaborative problem-solving, or accessing mentoring and development opportunities, as opposed to focusing on individual work, which can be done from home. Our office time needs to be purposeful.


Supporting Leaders

The days of the “bums on seats” mentality and the “if I can’t see them, they’re not working” approach to leadership are over.

Leading hybrid teams differs from how we led virtual teams during COVID, and traditional teams pre-COVID. Leading hybrid teams today means supervisors, managers, and executives need different mindsets and in many cases, new skill sets. 

Consider these shifts, for example:

  • Embrace autonomy, mastery, and purpose, as they drive motivation and engagement. This replaces the old command and control style of leadership.  
  • Recognise that monitoring time spent in the office is no longer a productivity or performance measure, especially with concepts like ‘quiet quitting’ and ‘presenteeism’ at play.
  • Encourage socialisation and better relationships at work, as fostering connection is important for psychological safety and meaningful collaboration. Research also suggests that having a best friend at work is linked to improved business outcomes.
  • Measure outcomes, not just outputs.
  • Design moments of ‘joy’ into team rituals to foster connection and belonging.

It’s a new era, and workplaces and leadership look and feel very different from the traditional styles that many of us grew up with. 

It really is an exciting and distinctly human time in the world of business.

If you’d like to delve deeper into COMUNiTI’s insights on rehumanising the workplace, reimagining workspaces, or equipping leaders with new skills, get in touch!





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