What means the office to me? And why I think the hybrid model is here to stay

Others named this as Full Flexible Remote. No clear name yet.

Two weeks ago, I had the chance to talk with my working colleges at the office. During lunch, we started to chat about the office, the hybrid models, the benefits and drawbacks of the office, and the remote work.

During the conversation, the next question popped up:

What do the office mean to us after the pandemic?

We all agreed that the pandemic changed how we work together, and we learned how to adapt ourselves to a remote working environment in an extreme context. Still, working remotely and forced to work from home are very different scenarios.

So.. what does the office mean to me after the pandemic?

A safe space for communities

What’s a community to me? A community can be:

  • A team

  • People sharing an interest in a specific topic

  • A Software Crafting Meetup event

  • LGBTQ+ Meetup

So, even though it’s a company office, you can make good use of it not only for work but also for non-work-related things that bond people together.

That’s what means the office to me, a space to meet people with shared interests, either from work or non-work.

What does not mean the office to me?

  • A place to be “productive”

  • A must-go place to produce software

  • A place to manage people to see if they are doing their work

  • A must be place to feel that you belong to the company

Which benefits do I see in the office?

RELATIONSHIPS.

It just heavy help to build relationships and trust between people compared to make it online. When I joined Creditas during the pandemic, I needed so hard to meet people in real life to create this relationship with them.

It’s super different when you go remote when you already created the relationships vs when you join a new company.

Sure, create them online is possible, but, still, at least one dimension harder compared to in person.

So… the hybrid model

A hybrid model should operate with the next principles in my opinion:

At team level:

  • Go to the office is a choice of the individual with shared responsibility.

  • When one person on the team is remote, then all the interactions are remote first.

  • All the information (diagrams, kanban board, …) must be digital to not depend to be in the office to have all the information to work.

  • No important decisions are taken that affects the team happen when team members are remote

The rule of thumb here is do not discriminate against a person for being remote. We have to be aware to create an inclusive workspace, and it is about involving people that are working remotely as well.

What happens with _?

  • Workshops

  • Town Halls

  • Office events

  • Important Meetings

  • etc etc

It’s up to the team to decide the format, either being in the office or being fully remote or a hybrid.

The Hybrid Model adapts to the current team needs

Giving autonomy to the team to decide the way they work is essential. They know their current situation, so they can adapt if they prefer full remote, full office, or just in demand. And they know what’s best for the team.

Some situations to give an example:

  • New team. People don’t know each other, they need to create relationships. Working from the office seems more aligned with the team's needs.

  • Team working together for a long time. They know what they expect from each other, why not working from home and be more productive? Let’s get stuff done!

  • Part of the team working at the office, part at home. OK! No problem!

  • The team has been working together for a long time, but there’s a new product that needs discovery. The team decides that the best format is to be at the office and run a workshop. So, they plan to have a workshop from 1st May to 5th May, and they all commit to being at the office for those days.

The main takeaway is that changing from Remote to in Office to back to Remote will be normal, fluid, and expected. As a team, we need to adapt ourselves to the current needs, and that will include the working space as well.

The only requirement for a Hybrid Model to work well is that the team needs to be Remote First.

Hybrid Model will be a key factor for companies

From the employee point of view, it has multiple benefits:

  • You are not required to go to the office as was expected before

  • You feel trusted by the company and your colleges to deliver without needing to show up at the office

  • You’re free to work from home and attend your non-work-related things, like taking children to school, getting a haircut, working from another city/country, …

  • You still can go to the office to meet people in person and do activities that are more efficient and fulfilling in the office, like meetups, hackathons, workshops, or just sharing a meal with your colleagues.

For the employer, it means multiple things:

  • Giving freedom to people will help people to stay. People are more conscious about the benefits of remote working, and giving the freedom to choose will (or already is) a must.

  • Keeping the office will help to create a community, and feeling of belonging, that is still harder to accomplish on remote work. So, people don’t feel like it doesn’t matter to work with you or another company, but people have a space that they can enjoy or use to fulfill their needs.

So, the hybrid model will help in:

  • Improve productivity on the tasks that are better done at home

  • Still having a place to run ceremonies and activities that are better dealt at the office when it’s possible (sometimes you’re really full remote and you can achieve this)

  • Create a stronger feeling of belonging and improve the company attrition by keeping the best talent

Last but not least

I would like to share with you a video from Simon Sinek about Remote Work that I’m quite aligned with his opinion.

Meme for you