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Hybrid versus Hybrid and then there is Hybrid

The definition of the word Hybrid is one we all believe we know.  It is OUR definition based on what has evolved professionally and personally since March, 2020.  Our definition has likely changed multiple times during the last three years (yes, three years).  Regardless, we believe we know the meaning of the word. 

What candidates ask

When we call candidates about a potentially wonderful and new opportunity, the number one question we get is about the hybrid ‘program’ that exists with the prospective employer. 

  • Do I need to go into the office every day?
  • Are there set ‘work from home’ days that are established?

Since the day we, in the United States, really recognized COVID (March 16, 2020 – the day I call COVID-day), work from home and social distancing immediately became the norm.  Companies had and have helped to create and continuously evolve workplace rules.  While companies are starting to bring people back to the office, each company has a different approach and employees have become accustomed to their employer’s rules.  A custom approach for each employer makes sense if it is based on business and employee needs. 

What clients desire

The number one desire we receive from our clients (mostly small/medium employers that span multiple industries with varying leadership needs) is that they want someone ‘present’.  This translates to being in the office most days, especially when the person is new to the company and getting established as part of the company’s leadership team. 

Come in/Close door/Zoom!

An early complaint when people started their slow office return was coming into the office only to have to close the door and be on Zoom meetings all day.  While I personally still see value in coming to the office (if others are there), being in a closed-door office all day and attending meetings on screen does appear to miss the point of the return to physical presence. 

Hybrid Meetings

Companies are now working on how to handle hybrid meetings, yet another use of the now overused ‘hybrid’ term.  If most people are in the office, how do we handle those that attend remotely?  Do we all go to a screen?  Do those ‘present’ meet in a conference room and hope to include the people on-screen?  Is there a best practice somewhere?  (National and global organizations do this all the time and did so long before COVID; smaller more local/regional companies are catching up/trying to hold these meetings in the most effective manner.)

The ‘conclusion’

There is no hard/fast/universal definition of Hybrid.  (Internally, we can’t even agree if we should capitalize the term.)  We all think we know the definition – our definition which has been formed by the past three years of intense and changing rules.  The key is to discuss this upfront in each work situation.  Companies need to set their rules but also understand the job market.  Candidates need to determine what is right for them but also be open-minded IF they are open to a new role/new challenge. 

The ‘final’ conclusion – this is an evolving topic that needs to be discussed throughout the employment relationship.  Keep talking/engaging stakeholders.  We are not yet at the end of this hybrid journey.