International Perspectives: The Future Hybrid Organization and Back-to-Office Experiences

What does the future hybrid organization look like for workspaces, people, and practices? That was the million-dollar question during a recent international networking panel hosted by Cordence Worldwide. The event featured perspectives and client case studies from three management consultancies within the partnership group: Oresys (France), Horváth (DACH Region), and North Highland (U.S. and U.K.).

Guest speakers from three industries also shared their real-world stories, detailing how the future of hybrid work was taking shape in their organization. Through vignettes and discussions, client and roundtable leaders discussed:

  • The new hybrid organization and the progressive evolution of workspaces at an automotive research and development center in France. Particular focus was given to how innovative tools helped forge a fresh, dynamic workplace. 
  • The future of work for a global life sciences organization. This involved looking closely at the talent priorities for engaging the U.S. workforce of tomorrow, and how to plot a roadmap for ‘the next normal’ based on potential business impacts and changes.
  • New initiatives at a virtual communication and collaboration software service company, which rolled out customer-oriented product groupings and employee personas. A hot topic here was how new recruitment and collaboration policies can reinforce hybrid ways of working and organizational culture.

In eager support of future work, participants discussed tools that managers and leaders could leverage to build inclusive, hybrid cultures. During the debate, there was no doubt that virtual reality, digital technologies, and team member digital fluency were seen as crucial to improving inclusion, collaboration, engagement, and connection across global teams.

But why stop there? After the event, we asked our fellow consultancies for their thoughts on emerging trends and topics. Here’s what they have noticed recently as we continue to navigate through post-pandemic uncertainty, the complexities of hybrid work, and the implication of the return to offices:

Laurent Dequéant, Partner at Oresys

Without exception, our clients are putting their employees at the heart of their organizational transformations. They’re prioritizing the employee experience and proactively monitoring psycho-social risks that may be exacerbated by telework and/or flexible office environments.

With new, hybrid ways of working come a critical need to strike the right balance between performance and employee wellbeing—and we’re helping our clients do just that. This means we’re showing them how to establish and embrace new ways of working, starting with the managers. Employees look to their leaders to set expectations, model mindsets, and shape behaviors in order to spark the transformation. Their trust is vital in any transition.

We also encourage clients to promote their new approaches in the marketplace. Not only does this show customers and stakeholders how adaptable and dynamic they are, but it can help attract and retain top talent too. We also work alongside clients to draw up action plans and roadmaps for their societal and environmental objectives as they progress in this hybrid environment. This empowers them to make a measurable impact on the world around them, and on behalf of their employees and customers. By unlocking more innovative spaces and rolling out digital tools that increase collaboration and efficiency, we enable clients to enhance their working environments.

Vera Koltai, Head of Organization & Operations at Horváth

We team up with our clients to design thoughtful hybrid operational models that reflect the future of work and organizations’ business objectives. This includes considerations around organizational design, global supply chain management, and location selection—as well as discussions around centralization versus decentralization.

Crucially, the models we design do not stand alone. Our clients prioritize the alignment of their models with their values of collaboration and culture. Working closely with them, we pinpoint the flexibility needed within their operational model—including remote work policies, regulated flexibility, capacity planning, and agility practices to support the overall infrastructure.

Our clients don’t hide their strong desire to anticipate and address employee questions, work-life balance, motivation, mindset change, mental health, and performance management. Through the operational model, we answer fundamental questions about the role of the office—and we do it through the lens of the employee experience. 

We also equip clients with the means to motivate their teams towards achieving goals in the post-pandemic, virtual environment. Many organizations are asking themselves, “How do we control for outputs?” Others are reassessing their performance management processes, lasering in on DE&I to ensure fair and equitable assessment of performance, pay, and promotion. Whatever the aim, we ensure they’re able to work effectively towards it.

Kiely Flanigan, Associate Vice President of Workforce Transformation at North Highland

Many of our clients are giving plenty of strategic thought to what the future has in store for their people. This means engaging in strategic workforce planning, with a keen eye on matching business objectives with the skills and competencies of their team—looking at both what exists today and what’s needed tomorrow. Working alongside many HR and functional teams, we’re creating strategic roadmaps to pave the way for organizational design, competency modeling, job descriptions, and talent development paths. Together with Horváth, we even helped one forward-thinking organization conduct a global talent market assessment to understand emerging markets.

With the rising prevalence of virtual and distributed teams, we’ve also seen digital tools and fluency become central to our work. We have a proprietary Digital Maturity Assessment that we use to help clients boost their digital dexterity. And we’ve created digital personas to raise awareness of how to embed digital skills and knowledge within a culture—something that’s so key to ensuring an inclusive, collaborative workplace in today’s hybrid organization. These digital capabilities will be an invaluable competitive skillset of the future, as talent acquisition teams compete for the best of the best. They’re also trying to grasp the value proposition that these new employees are genuinely interested in—and here’s a hint: it goes beyond pool tables, free food, and other Google- and Amazon-like benefits.

Last but definitely not least, we’re partnering with clients to embed more agile ways of working into their DNA. We believe in (and embody) these very strongly as a firm—they’re fundamental to the future of work. After all, we know too well from COVID-19 that things can change overnight. Being able to pivot quickly, make decisions in the face of uncertainty, take action amid crisis, “read” people with emotional intelligence, and learn from educated mistakes will always be essential. Yet the World Economic Forum expects such competencies of learning agility, courage, and empathy will be in short supply moving forward. To future-proof our clients, we reinforce them through our leadership agility program and skills-based agile coaching programs. Given the changing world around us, there’s no doubt that there will be a continued emphasis on supporting people through this type of targeted learning and development.

For more information about this event, or to learn more about our services, please reach out to one of our member firms.