Discovering the Formula for Hybrid Work

3 min read

What does it take to master hybrid work? After an enlightening interview with Karl May, CEO of Join Digital, I believe we’re starting to find some answers. And the key lies in employee engagement.

Join Digital, based in Silicon Valley, is spearheading a fresh approach to remote and hybrid work. They provide a comprehensive tech solution to Fortune 2500 companies, bridging the gap between technology and employee satisfaction in the hybrid work environment.

From advanced secure technology services to workplace analytics, Join Digital helps employers understand and tailor their work environments to employee needs. Their focus is on creating a tech ecosystem that enhances both productivity and satisfaction in the hybrid workspace.

Unpacking the Concerns of Hybrid Employers

What keeps employers awake at night as they navigate the hybrid work landscape? A key insight from my conversation with Karl May is the pressing need to create a work environment that caters to the needs of employees. And it’s not just about being productive—it’s also about keeping the workforce content.

May’s experience mirrors the findings of my focus groups in the 23 clients I helped figure out their return to the office and hybrid work strategy. Many companies discovered that their office spaces were noisy and distracting, hampering productivity rather than fostering it. The perception of the office as a place for mentoring was backfiring; instead of nurturing younger employees, senior staff often secluded themselves, preferring the relative peace of their private offices.

May was quick to highlight how employee satisfaction often suffers from poor technology or subpar work conditions. The challenge for companies is to adjust their work environments to alleviate these points of dissatisfaction.

Determining the Best Environment for Various Work Types

In the realm of hybrid work, not all tasks are created equal. Some work thrives in the office; other tasks are best performed remotely.

As May shared, collaborative tasks, problem-solving sessions, brainstorming meetings, and scenarios that benefit from non-verbal cues are typically more effective in an office setting. For these, being physically present adds an extra layer of interaction that can significantly improve outcomes.

On the other hand, work that requires laser focus and minimal distraction – such as reading documents or preparing for an interview – should be conducted in a quiet space, preferably at home.

However, these insights pose a thought-provoking question: If the high-stakes activities that are best suited for the office comprise less than 10% of an employee’s time, why are many companies still asking employees to be on-site for three or four days a week?

Addressing Generational Shifts and Navigating Changes in the Workspace

Part of the answer, according to May, lies in the generational shifts within the workforce. According to him, his generation of Baby Boomer professionals has been indoctrinated with the idea of going to the office. He said that “Growing up in the Silicon Valley, we have always equated work with in-person interaction and spontaneous brainstorming sessions. Hewlett Packard, where I started my career, practically invented the concept of ‘Management by Walking Around’.”

Many of the current generation of leaders have a perspective that weighs highly the value of impromptu brainstorms and chance meetings that can spark innovation—an element that’s often lacking in a remote environment.

However, a whole new generation has experienced work differently during the pandemic. The question is, according to May: “have we lost three years of new hires that will never be able to catch up and integrate properly into our companies due to the absence of in-person mentorship?”

Now there’s food for thought. It’s like trying to whip up a gourmet meal without the main ingredients. These individuals graduating from 2020 to 2022 have not had the same experience of working closely with more experienced colleagues. It’s like expecting them to fly a plane without a co-pilot.

That brings up another issue – the undeniable social element to work. While work and life balance is essential, let’s not forget that work is a part of life. We cannot ignore the human need for social interaction, which often extends into our workspaces. The idea of being bothered by someone popping into my office for a chat about the latest binge-worthy show might seem intrusive, but it is these small, seemingly insignificant interactions that shape the human experience at work.

The Future of Hybrid Work

So, what’s the final verdict? It’s as complex as a Rubik’s cube but equally as fascinating. Hybrid work environments bring their challenges, sure, but they also come with an array of opportunities. By understanding and prioritizing employee satisfaction and productivity, companies can create a working environment that caters to diverse needs. After all, our workforce is as diverse as a box of chocolates – each with their unique flavor and value. And the only way to make the most of this diversity is to provide an environment – hybrid, remote, or in-person – where each one can shine. To quote Shakespeare (a remote worker in his time, if you think about it), “All the world’s a stage.” Let’s ensure we provide the best stage for our employees to perform at their best. The future of work is here, and it’s hybrid. Let’s embrace it.

Key Take-Away

Mastering hybrid work requires prioritizing employee engagement, understanding diverse work types, addressing generational shifts, and embracing opportunities for satisfaction and productivity Share on X

Image credit: Andrea Piacquadio/Pexels

Dr. Gleb Tsipursky was lauded as “Office Whisperer” and “Hybrid Expert” by The New York Times for helping leaders use hybrid work to improve retention and productivity while cutting costs. He serves as the CEO of the boutique future-of-work consultancy Disaster Avoidance Experts. Dr. Gleb wrote the first book on returning to the office and leading hybrid teams after the pandemic, his best-seller Returning to the Office and Leading Hybrid and Remote Teams: A Manual on Benchmarking to Best Practices for Competitive Advantage (Intentional Insights, 2021). He authored seven books in total, and is best know for his global bestseller, Never Go With Your Gut: How Pioneering Leaders Make the Best Decisions and Avoid Business Disasters (Career Press, 2019). His cutting-edge thought leadership was featured in over 650 articles and 550 interviews in Harvard Business Review, Forbes, Inc. Magazine, USA Today, CBS News, Fox News, Time, Business Insider, Fortune, and elsewhere. His writing was translated into Chinese, Korean, German, Russian, Polish, Spanish, French, and other languages. His expertise comes from over 20 years of consulting, coaching, and speaking and training for Fortune 500 companies from Aflac to Xerox. It also comes from over 15 years in academia as a behavioral scientist, with 8 years as a lecturer at UNC-Chapel Hill and 7 years as a professor at Ohio State. A proud Ukrainian American, Dr. Gleb lives in Columbus, Ohio. In his free time, he makes sure to spend abundant quality time with his wife to avoid his personal life turning into a disaster. Contact him at Gleb[at]DisasterAvoidanceExperts[dot]com, follow him on LinkedIn @dr-gleb-tsipursky, Twitter @gleb_tsipursky, Instagram @dr_gleb_tsipursky, Facebook @DrGlebTsipursky, Medium @dr_gleb_tsipursky, YouTube, and RSS, and get a free copy of the Assessment on Dangerous Judgment Errors in the Workplace by signing up for the free Wise Decision Maker Course at