The paradox of hybrid work with Jullien Brezun, CEO of Great Place To Work

Hybrid Stories
January 18, 2023
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With the perpetuation of hybrid work, companies are facing new challenges to maintain a good quality of work life, attract and retain talent. To meet these challenges, trust has become a crucial issue for employers. It is the foundation of an organization and is necessary to create a healthy work environment that promotes employee well-being, even remotely.

In this article, you will discover the observations and vision of Jullien Brezun, General Manager of Great Place to Work Francethe world-renowned HR label based on the answers to 60 questions asked to employees. You will learn more about the evolution of hybrid practices, the growing role of trust, crucial in the new ways of organizing work, and the famous hybrid paradox.

The famous red Great Place To Work logo

Recent developments in hybrid practices

Globally, with the Covid crisis, 2020 was the year of a somewhat rushed implementation of hybrid work on a large scale. 2021 was about consolidating what had been identified and felt. Finally, 2022 will have been the year of the landing with companies looking for the best way to operate and manage these new practices, often with the help of digital tools. Jullien Brezun sets the tone for 2023:

"In France, we've finally realized that managing the hybrid is a complex process, as is managing remote work for employees and the managerial aspect that goes with it. Now more than ever, it's necessary to make the choice of trust for your employees."

Trust is essential to maintain good communication and effective collaboration between employees, especially in times of remote work or hybridization. When employees work remotely or face-to-face, i.e. in the office, they are not always in direct contact with their managers and colleagues. This can lead to communication difficulties, and a lack of social ties and relationships. Companies therefore need to be able to respond to the constant changes and expectations of their teams by trusting them.

A growing quest for trust

Creating a healthy and productive work environment for all is a real challenge for companies seeking to improve performance and retain talent. To achieve this goal, organizations must be able to understand the expectations of their employees, as well as their level of trust in the employer.

To develop this environment, companies and their leaders must also be able to adapt to changes and evolving employee needs, while maintaining effective communication, collaboration and management. Leadership and management play a key role in this process. They are able to inspire and facilitate team success.

"Trust is key. Hybridization, remote work and new organizational models must lead us to continue this quest for trust. So it's more important than ever to measure employee perceptions to understand what they expect."

The four main expectations of employees in the hybrid era

Our discussions with Jullien Brezun allowed us to identify four main expectations that employees have at work:

1. Smart working, a more flexible approach to work

Expectations around work are increasingly flexible. The trend is to be able to work from anywhere, including at home, at any time and with tools that promote agility and flexibility to produce the best results. Employees then need to be properly equipped, even remotely.

Somewhere along the line, we are moving towards a hyper-individualization of the work organization model, where each person can work according to his or her own constraints and organization.

2. Hybrid management that goes hand in hand with hybrid working methods

Hybrid management includes face-to-face management skills, often in the company's offices, but also remote skills, when teams telework or when the manager himself practices the home office.

Today, what is expected is a leader who is able to inspire and enable team success in hybrid mode. In his or her own way, the manager is a source of thinking differently, of creating links between colleagues, of encouraging risk-taking for the benefit of innovation and learning through failure.

A good manager is expected to leave the success to the team, to facilitate hybrid work for better productivity, without getting into micro-management or too much control of his team members.

3. Expectations for inclusion continue to rise

According to the People at Work 2022 study conducted by ADP, 70% of workers feel supported by their managers in matters of mental health at work and 75% of them feel supported by their colleagues.

No employee should be left by the wayside. Companies are careful to respect several parameters and to integrate all employees into the collective, regardless of their differences.

Employees are very sensitive to the notion of inclusion and the level of what is acceptable is constantly increasing.

4. More meaning to your daily work

"I want to give meaning to the activity I carry out" is a recurrent statement. However, this does not necessarily mean that all employees expect their company to save the planet. The mission should not only be understood as the organization's mission, but should rather take into account the employee's role in the company's mission.

"What am I good for?" Employees want to play a real day-to-day role in the overall mission process and counteract the hyper-segmentation of the business that has sometimes made it feel like a job that lacks a little meaning. Jullien Brezun illustrates this trend with his own example:

"I joined Great Place To Work France to help companies move forward and step by step to enter a continuous improvement process. I help organizations make a more positive impact year after year."

➡️ What are the new expectations of employees in the office? The answer in our latest white paper!

The manager: the answer to the hybrid paradox?

The four previous trends have been accelerated by the Covid effect, even if they were already present. A paradox emerges: employees are looking for hyper-individualization with smart working, the possibility to work from any location and the need for autonomy, but they are also looking to be part of a collective and to have more face-to-face contact.

"The companies that are going to make it are the ones that are going to succeed in nurturing the meaning of their employees and therefore the collective, while promoting and respecting a significant individualization. It's all about balance!"

The balancing factor is often the middle manager. His role goes beyond a charter. The middle manager relies on a relationship of trust and will be able to resolve this paradox between individualization and teamwork. His or her leadership skills are essential to enable him or her to magnify the resources of each individual, by bringing out the talent of his or her teams and of each employee.

Looking beyond hybrid work with CSR strategy

In parallel with hybrid work and new forms of work organization, the manager will have an additional role in the company's CSR strategy. He will be the actor of the necessary CSR transformation of organizations.

"There is a very strong challenge to help managers take hold of CSR issues. They are going to have to be trained to understand what it is and to engage employees in the transformation, even from a distance."

Digital and CSR transformations follow the same rhythm, over the long term. But they are not at the same stage of development. On the CSR side, organizations are often only at the stage of creating specialized departments. Jullien Brezun gives an explanation:

"When we have major inflation and compensation issues, CSR unfortunately takes a back seat. We need to make the most of the next two or three years to move forward on this CSR diffusion. It's a real challenge for managers not to waste this time."

Like the hybrid work strategy, the company's CSR strategy is an additional lever to engage its employees, create a bond and a strong culture. This whole strategy does not rest solely on the shoulders of managers. The leadership and convictions of the company's management will be decisive.

By requesting Great Place To Work questionnaires, companies can get a more accurate view of their employees' perception, especially in terms of trust in their management. As you can see, trust is a key element for the smooth running of an organization, especially with new organizational modes, such as hybrid work and flex office.

What about the flex office? It's often the next logical step in office organization after remote work. Find out how to make the smooth transition to a flex office with Europa Group's best practices!