This remains a “massive blind spot” for too many organizations, writes expert Ben Brooks.

When formulating your HR plans and budgets for 2022, did you adapt your learning and development plans as well as talent management strategies in order to equip your employees for success in hybrid and remote work structures?

If you’re like almost any other organization I speak to, you’ve spent the past year and a half in full “survival mode,” with ever-changing circumstances and challenges piling up like brown Amazon boxes in your trash. That pace, however, means that many are not devoting the time and attention to planning for the realities of 2022 – like establishing permanent hybrid and remote working arrangements – that they should. Indeed, when it comes to carefully and proactively considering the impact of hybrid and remote work, few have dedicated HR staff to address such concerns.

Hybrid is here to stay

Based on the most recent data, the vast majority of employers employing knowledge workers intend to maintain or expand some version of hybrid and / or remote work. This is partly because the genie is out of the bottle when it comes to employee expectations for such flexibility. Indeed, a significant proportion of workers have indicated that they would leave their jobs if they were not offered flexible hours. And in this “Second War for Talent” it will be even more difficult to fill vacancies if such work models are not offered. Seemingly overnight, hybrid models (and remote work in some industries or for some roles) have become expected in the eyes of employees as health insurance benefits.

What we forget

But the employees don’t think about it: How much they have to change the way they work and work if they want to be successful in the future. Many executives stay up at night because of this – although their impulse is to resist the incoming tide and instead insist that everyone put their bums back in their Herman Miller Aeron chairs in the office.

Early on, I predicted that hybrid work could prove to be a hot mess for businesses and employees alike. In fact, The Economist published a study that shows that employees in this model worked 30% more while still producing the same output, which means that their efficiency has decreased! The savings in commuting time were eaten up by context changes, poor communication, disorientation, isolation, and a host of other factors. With all the talk about burnout, I see this as a delayed indicator of upstream disruptions in the organization and execution of our work.

Performance is contextual

Because of this, someone who is a star under a manager or in a department may not be as successful when placed in a new situation. Just think how much a professional athlete’s results can change if they are traded to a different team. The previous context for many working people can be described in two simple words: “the office”. We must not assume that an employee will simply flop into their guest room or kitchen table with a Lenovo laptop and a Zoom / Teams / Slack account to achieve the sustained efficiency and performance in their roles that we expect in the office had .

See also: How do you define EX? Create “an irresistible organization”

The office was more effective than we think

It turns out that the office is a massive platform for the success of most employees, despite our layoffs from cubicles, overbooked conference rooms, slow elevators, and other mundane aspects of office life. Offices provide structure, resources, motivation, belonging, accountability, casual communication and social interaction that manifests as connection and pressure to accountability – things that all collaboration software in the world simply cannot beat. In fact, even the software we developed to “replace” the office itself is often deeply ingrained in physical design metaphors (desktops, files, trash cans, or even intranets viewed as city squares).

Before you think I’m one of an “old school” bastion of office colleagues, first notice that I started a remote-first company (PILOT, an emerging SaaS platform) seven years ago, long before Remote or Hybrid it was even en vogue. During this time I have seen what a steep learning curve it is for new employees who are used to an office environment. This has been especially difficult when a new employee joins, is promoted to a new position, or is trying to drive big changes. I understand how much change blindness talent brings when they move from office to hybrid performance context – and how much we need to support them in that transition.

What do we do?

If you are reading this, I bet that you are certainly not in the “do nothing” camp. Introduce new employee development measures to lead hybrid to success. (If you need some mental lift to ask for a bigger budget, check out my previous column.)

A non-exhaustive list of key skills employees must develop to be successful in hybrid and remote work, regardless of role, include:

  • Be aware of yourself and the situation: Consistently move forward to reflect on feedback and actively seek feedback from others (not just from your supervisor).
  • Stand up for yourself: Speaking up when you need help, setting effective boundaries, knowing your unmet needs, and doing something about it.
  • Own supervision: partnership with your managers by initiating and conducting 1: 1 discussions, actively promoting the status, looking for a good context for everything and continuously focusing on priorities and expectations.
  • Invest in colleague relationships: Proactively approach colleagues outside of formal meetings, make it explicitly clear how they would like to work, provide additional context for their broader living circumstances, and seek to be an active source of value and support for others.
  • Be self-determined: Perhaps no other competency is more decisive for the future of work than the high level of responsibility of employees, who take priority for their own work, become effective and creative problem solvers and really take their work into their own hands as if they had no boss.

These are the key competencies and skills for the “now” of work, and your organization would be well served if it gave these fundamentals priority over the shiny object enrichment skills, which may seem sexier but in reality far less relevant for the moment are . In next month’s column and a future HRE webinar, I’ll learn more about each of these critical competencies, as well as how you can prepare each for success in large-scale hybrid work by focusing on a shared development plan .

First, start by socializing the idea that this is a massive organizational blind spot and that you want to do something about it in your annual planning and budget!

Ben Brooks is the founder and CEO of the career development platform PILOT. Share your reactions to this column on LinkedIn or @benbrooksny. He writes the monthly column Coach’s Corner for HRE.