How to Innovate in Hybrid Companies: Breaking the Mold15 min read

How to Innovate in Hybrid Companies: Breaking the Mold

The pandemic has accelerated the adoption of remote and hybrid work models. Today, hybrid companies combine the best of both worlds: the flexibility and independence of remote work and the collaboration and focus of in-person work.

But how can hybrid companies foster a culture of innovation and growth in this new reality?

In this blog post, we will explore the advantages and challenges of hybrid work, and share some insights on how to innovate in hybrid companies.

Let’s start.

What are hybrid companies?

Hybrid companies are organizations that allow their employees to choose where, when, and how they work.

They are not fully remote nor fully in-office. But rather, they offer a range of options and scenarios for different types of work and preferences.

Hybrid companies recognize that there is no one-size-fits-all solution for work and that different tasks and projects may require different modes of collaboration and communication.

Hence, these organizations adopt various policies and practices to enable their employees to work effectively and efficiently across different locations and time zones.

They provide the proper virtual communication tools and other necessary technologies to support their hybrid work model needs.

Advantages of hybrid companies

Hybrid companies offer many benefits. Some of these include:

1. Flexibility of time and place

Like remote workers, employees from hybrid work models can choose when and where they work best according to their personal and professional needs.

This improves their work-life balance, productivity, satisfaction, and well-being.

2. Independence of thought

When innovation teams are placed in a hybrid workplace, they have more autonomy and ownership over their work as they are less constrained by rigid schedules and hierarchies.

In effect, they gain a sense of empowermentcreativity, and innovation — leading to more diverse perspectives and ideas.

3. Increased collaboration

One of the best things about working in a hybrid organization is that you can collaborate with anyone, anywhere, and anytime using various digital tools and platforms.

This can enhance learning, networking, and problem-solving skills.

Moreover, increased digital collaboration also results in richer idea generation, brilliant new ideas, and high-quality projects.

As a result, organizations leverage the collective intelligence and expertise of their employees across different functions and regions.

4. Improved focus

Like remote employees, people who work in a hybrid office can avoid distractions and interruptions from the workplace environment if they want and concentrate on their most important tasks.

This increases the quality of their work, efficiency, and performance, producing more focused and engaged employees that keep the team spirit alive.

Challenges of hybrid companies

Hybrid companies also face some challenges that need to be addressed to maintain their innovation potential. Some of these challenges are:

1. Less informal interactions

Choosing to work in a hybrid setup may mean missing out on the spontaneous conversations and social interactions that happen in the office setting.

These informal interactions can naturally foster trust, rapport, creativity, and serendipity among colleagues.

Without it, employers may find it harder to build a cohesive culture and identity for their hybrid teams.

2. More difficult to brainstorm in the same room

Employees may find it more challenging to generate and share ideas in a virtual setting than in a face-to-face setting.

They may experience technical issues, communication barriers, or lack of engagement during the online brainstorming process.

Plus, business leaders may struggle to facilitate effective ideation processes for their hybrid teams, knowing the differences between workplaces and time.

3. High technology readiness

Those who work both at home and in the office need to have access to reliable tools and technologies to collaborate effectively.

However, they also need the skills and confidence to use these technologies and tools proficiently.

Meaning, businesses need to provide adequate training and support for their employees to adapt to new collaboration platforms and other relevant systems.

4. Who has experience

As opposed to an office setting, remote teams, and hybrid office employees may find it more difficult to know who has experience or expertise in what topic.

They may not be aware of the skills or knowledge of their colleagues who work remotely or in different locations.

Moreover, as an innovation leader, you may also find it more challenging to track and manage the skills or knowledge of your hybrid workforce.

5. Creating room for small talk

Innovation teams may need to create more opportunities for small talk and casual conversations with their hybrid colleagues than with their office colleagues.

They may need to initiate or join online chats or calls that are not strictly work-related but rather aim to build rapport and camaraderie among team members.

6. Less socializing opportunities

In a hybrid model, you may find it more difficult to have lunch and talk with your hybrid workmates than with your office colleagues.

Having lunch and talking about random things can be a valuable opportunity to bond with those who you work with. This also serves as your chance to exchange ideas and learn from one another.

So, to foster informal and social interactions among hybrid teams, innovation leaders may need to offer more options such as virtual coffee breaks, online games, or themed events.

7. Increased stress

Working in a hybrid setting makes it tougher to move behind your webcam. Unlike working in a physical setup, you won’t be able to walk and talk with other people, which brings positive effects on creativity, health, and stress reduction.

Hence, in a hybrid working model, employers may need to foster and create more physical activity and movement options for hybrid teams, such as virtual walking meetings, online fitness classes, or wellness challenges.

8. Reaching the creativity zone

In most cases, it is easier for those who work in the office to reach the creativity zone as most meetings in a hybrid work model are decision-focused, and sitting leads to this more often than standing and interacting.

Reaching the creativity zone is vital for generating and implementing innovative ideas.

As a result, companies have to build and support more creative and engaging processes and activities for hybrid teams, particularly virtual brainstorming, prototyping, testing, and iterating.

Four aspects of innovation in hybrid companies

Innovation is not a one-time event, but a continuous process that requires attention and investment.

Innovating successfully in hybrid companies includes considering four aspects: leadership, mindset, skillset, and toolset.

Leadership

Leaders play a crucial role in setting the vision, direction, and culture for innovation in hybrid companies.

They need to communicate clearly and frequently the purpose and goals of innovation, and how they align with the company’s strategy and values.

As an innovation leader, you also need to empower and support your hybrid teams to experiment, learn, and collaborate across boundaries.

And more importantly, you need to model the behaviors and attitudes you expect from your teams, such as curiosity, openness, and resilience.

Mindset

To innovate in hybrid companies, you need to cultivate a growth mindset that embraces challenges, feedback, and learning opportunities.

You also need to foster a collaborative practice that values diversity, inclusion, and trust.

To truly succeed, everyone needs to overcome cognitive biases that may hinder overall creativity and decision-making.

Skillset

Different abilities and competencies enable innovation teams to perform tasks and solve problems.

So everyone has to develop solid innovation skills and excel specifically in critical thinking, creative thinking, design thinking, and systems thinking.

Members of the innovation team should also enhance their communication, collaboration, and facilitation capacities for working effectively in virtual settings.

Crucially, if you manage these people, you have to learn and lead the usage of various methods and techniques for generating, evaluating, and implementing ideas like virtual brainstorming, prototyping, testing, and iterating to generate high-quality ideas.

Toolset

The toolset that you have refers to the resources and technologies that support your work processes and outcomes.

However, if you want to make innovation a common practice, you need to have access to reliable and secure tools that enable seamless collaboration across different locations and time zones.

Most importantly, innovation teams need tools that help them capture, organize, and share information and knowledge.

Hence, you need to leverage tools that stimulate your organizational creativity and productivity, like digital whiteboards, mind maps, or gamification platforms.

How to innovate in hybrid companies

Based on these four aspects of innovation, here are some practical tips on how to innovate in hybrid companies:

1. Describe and keep communicating how you as a hybrid company are working

Make sure everyone understands the vision, goals, expectations, and norms of your hybrid work model.

Communicate regularly with your hybrid teams about their progress, challenges, feedback, and recognition.

Use various channels and formats to reach different audiences and preferences.

2. Offer tech in the office and at home to easily collaborate (hardware):

Provide your hybrid employees with the necessary hardware devices and equipment to work effectively from anywhere.

This may include laptops, webcams, microphones, headsets, monitors, keyboards, mice, and so on.

Ensure that these devices are compatible, easy to use, and secure.

3. Have great tools to work together (software):

Give the necessary software applications and platforms that can help you collaborate efficiently with anyone.

Explore videoconferencing, messaging, email, document sharing, project management, and so on.

Moreover, ensure that these applications and platforms are reliable, user-friendly, and integrated.

4. Offer guidance on how to work together in every scenario

Establish clear guidelines and best practices on how to work together in different scenarios and situations.

Learn how to schedule meetings, how to run innovation campaigns and other forms of virtual brainstorming sessions, how to give and receive feedback, how to resolve conflicts, and so on.

5. Leadership has to be an example of how to work together in a hybrid company

Lead by example. Be transparent, authentic, and empathetic. Show curiosity, openness, and resilience.

Empower your hybrid teams to experiment, learn, and collaborate across boundaries.

6. Innovate on new things for remote innovation:

Be open to trying new things and exploring new possibilities for remote innovation. Seek inspiration and insights from other sources and industries.

Experiment with different methods and techniques for managing and implementing ideas. Learn from your failures and successes.

7. Make clear rules about do’s and don’ts

Establish clear rules about what is acceptable and not in your hybrid work model.

This may include how to dress, how to behave, how to communicate, and how to handle confidential information in your hybrid work model.

8. Educate all maturity levels of hybrid workers

Provide your hybrid employees with appropriate training and coaching on how to work effectively and innovatively in a hybrid setting.

This may include how to use technology and tools, how to collaborate and communicate, how to manage time and energy, and how to balance work and life.

Recognize that different employees may have different levels of maturity and readiness for hybrid work, and tailor your support accordingly.

Establish innovation culture

Hybrid work is here to stay, and it offers many opportunities for innovation and growth. By following the tips and insights shared in this blog post, you can break the mold and lead the way in the new world of work.

To successfully facilitate innovation in hybrid companies, you need to establish a culture of innovation that supports and rewards experimentation, learning, and collaboration.

However, a culture of innovation is not something that happens overnight. But rather, innovation culture is something that requires intentional design, consistent action, and continuous improvement.

Plus, it also requires the willingness to adapt and evolve as the hybrid work model changes and matures.

One way to foster a culture of innovation is to use Accept Mission, a gamified platform that helps teams generate, evaluate, and implement ideas in a fun and engaging way.

Accept Mission enables teams to collaborate asynchronously across different locations and time zones, using various methods and techniques for ideation and innovation.

Accept Mission also helps teams track and measure their innovation performance and impact, using data and analytics. By using Accept Mission, hybrid teams can unleash their creativity and productivity, leading them to achieve their innovation goals.

Book a demo of Accept Mission today.

Published On: April 28th, 2023Categories: Innovation strategy

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