I'm the founder of FutureWork IQ where I spend my time assisting businesses to improve their climate literacy so as to understand the projected impacts from the expanding climate crisis and how to adapt their workplaces in the face of these impacts.

Hybrid working is really hard to manage and I give the same advice to leadership teams as Prof. Bloom does, as is outlined in this piece by Prof Nickolas Bloom

Here is one of the reasons:

“One concern is managing a hybrid team, where some people are at home and others are at the office. I hear endless anxiety about this generating an office in-group and a home out-group. For example, employees at home can see glances or whispering in the office conference room but can’t tell exactly what is going on. Even when firms try to avoid this by requiring office employees to take video calls from their desks, home employees have told me that they can still feel excluded. They know after the meeting ends the folks in the office may chat in the corridor or go grab a coffee together.”

If you insist on hybrid working, one way way to mitigate against the above challenge is to, as he suggests, make in-office days the same for everyone.

In view of all this, I recommend that teams consider going fully remote instead. To do so does however require overcoming two major hurdles. The first being the perception that fully-remote equals isolation. A well designed fully-remote workplace absolutely prioritizes meeting colleagues in-person throughout the year. It’s a non-negotiable part of a highly effective team. If people are feeling isolated there is something wrong with the design.

A second issue that needs to be addressed (usually solved by helping everyone increase their digital literacy and fluency) is the sentiment that in-person meetings are better. I would argue that in many cases the opposite is actually true. Of course, there is a place for synchronous meetings but these are usually only necessary for specific limited situations.

First prize, in my view, is being fully distributed, on condition that the work-from-anywhere workplace is intentionally designed, informal communication is formalized and that space is created for team members to be in-person at regular intervals throughout the year.

What do you think?