How do you define what hybrid work means? Is it simply working a few days in the office and a few days at home?
Anna Tavis—a Professor and Academic Director of the Human Capital Management Department at NYU—and Stela Lupushor—founder of Reframe.Work Inc.—join host Tim Reitsma to talk about what hybrid work is and how to create a hybrid workplace that people will be excited about.
- Stela came from a math and computer science background. She played a variety of consulting and internal roles, mostly in the HR space with the use of technology and analytics. [2:34]
- Anna is the department chair for Human Capital Management Programs at NYU. [3:34]
- Anna’s main goal is to really make sure that the next generation is not only well-skilled, but also prepared as managers of human beings in the workplace. [4:28]
A leader is someone who creates the space for everyone else to lead. It is about empowering, coaching, supporting, and providing the resources necessary and having the back of the people that they manage and coach and lead.Stela Lupushor
- Leadership is multifaceted. [6:32]
- We’ve been inundated with certain leadership models that we tend to overreact and say all a leader does is coach. But it’s a much more complex role. It’s a dialogue. Leaders are very attuned and empathetic to the situation and know where to step up and be ahead of everyone else. [7:05]
- To build a better workplace means different things to different people. [8:58]
- Hybrid means many different things to different people, and it’s not just two days in the office and three days at home. [9:26]
- Stela uses 3 key words to describe what a better world of work looks like: flexibility, inclusivity, accessibility. [11:09]
Hybrid doesn’t mean two days in the office, three days at home, or the other way around. Hybrid really means flexibility, accessibility, and inclusivity.Anna Tavis
- Hybrid means that we can play with the variables given to us in the office, at home, and at co-working places. [12:53]
- Another component that is often not included in this particular definition of hybrid is technology. [13:22]
- When people talk about remote, it’s not just commuting. They need to be asking questions about what kind of technology support they’re going to have. [16:39]
- If we as workers don’t know what a good experience looks like, how can we be expected to deliver that to others? [17:50]
- Anna went to a conference at WORKTECH22 in New York that was hosted by Accenture in their innovation hub. She went on a tour of their new office space that is totally designed in the wake of the pandemic with an idea and the language of creating magnetic workplaces. [19:28]
- If you can create a workplace where people can really customize and accommodate their specific needs, then that will be the situation where people would be staying home, but they also have an equivalent of a much more competitive place to do their work. [21:00]
- A lot of organizations ask people to come one day to the office and mostly to be there for social gatherings, not for work. [26:17]
- Hybrid is about creating multiple options for people so that they can prioritize what’s important to them and adjust to their personalities. [27:56]
- The public sector of the economy that suffered most is education. [30:38]
- Organizations, when we talk about hybrid, need to be mindful that there may be different groups and they need to be figuring out how to accommodate all of them at the same time. [32:20]
- There are ways of creatively rethinking some of the work itself. Not only thinking about the workforce and the workplace, but the work itself and how it is structured, designed, and orchestrated. [33:35]
- Certain things will have to be in person. Technology may give us the opportunity to rethink how it gets done to alleviate talent shortages, to alleviate some of the expensive travel needs, and localization of certain services. [34:37]
- The pandemic created an opportunity for us to rethink a lot of models, bust certain myths, and help us understand that productivity does not necessarily equal presence in the office. [35:54]
- Asking people isn’t enough, because a lot of people don’t know what they don’t know. A thoughtful process needs to be involved. [37:50]
- Make a list of what you don’t want as a first step. Just be very clear about what you don’t want. [38:07]
- Be very clear on what is not acceptable to you, but be open, flexible, and agile around the solutions you are offering. [39:47]
Meet Our Guests
Dr. Anna Tavis is a Professor and Academic Director of the Human Capital Management Department at NYU School of Professional Studies, Senior Fellow with the Conference Board, and the Academic in Residence with Executive Networks. Dr. Tavis has been named on the Thinkers50 Radar for 2020.
The workplace that is able to focus and serve to that individuality and to that personal experience is going to be more successful.Anna Tavis
Stela Lupushor is the founder of Reframe.Work Inc., a consulting firm advising clients on how to innovate and develop a workforce strategy that creates a resilient, inclusive, and accessible workplace through the use of technology, human-centered design, and future thinking. Stella is also an instructor at NYU.
Hybrid is the fusion of digital and physical reality to create the most optimal environment for us to do our work.Stela Lupushor
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- Check out Anna and Stela’s book: Humans at Work
Related articles and podcasts:
- About the People Managing People podcast
- Hybrid Working: What Is It And How To Approach It
- The 5 Key Benefits Of Remote Working
- 11 Leadership Models To Help You Become A Better Leader
- What Will It Take To Build A Better World Of Work?
Read the Transcript:
We’re trying out transcribing our podcasts using a software program. Please forgive any typos as the bot isn’t correct 100% of the time.
Anna Tavis: To me, hybrid doesn't mean two days in the office, three days at home, or the other way around. So it's not about a number of days that you shut out between home and office. Hybrid really means flexibility, accessibility, and inclusivity. And hybrid means that we can play with the variables given to us in the office and at home, and the third places, at co-working places.
Tim Reitsma: Welcome to the People Managing People Podcast. We're on a mission to help you build a better world of work and to create happy, healthy, and productive workplaces. I'm your host, Tim Reitsma!
Hybrid work. How do you define what hybrid work means? Two days in the office and the rest working wherever you want? Well, then let me ask you this: have you considered defining what flexibility, accessibility, inclusivity means to your organization? Oh how do you embrace and support with technology?
My guest today wrote your new go-to resource for hybrid work called Humans at Work: The Art and Practice of Creating the Hybrid Workplace.
Dr. Anna Tavis is a Professor and Academic Director of the Human Capital Management Department at NYU. She's also been named on Thinkers50 Radar for 2020.
Stela Lupushor is a founder of Reframe.Work Inc., a consulting firm advising clients on how to innovate and develop workforce strategies to create resilient, inclusive, and accessible workplaces through use of technology, human-centered design, and the future thinking. Stela is also on as an instructor at NYU.
So if you're interested to learn about what hybrid work is, what it is and how to create a hybrid workplace people are excited about, stay tuned.
Anna and Stela, thank you so much for joining me today. Thanks for, well, sending me your book a while ago, Humans at Work. I've read it. It's such a fantastic read. I know it came out this spring in March 2022. So we're a little delayed and I think I think I was reading somewhere there's another book coming out pretty soon.
But I really wanna dive into the, this idea of Humans at Work. So thanks for joining me today.
Stela Lupushor: Thrilled to be here.
Tim Reitsma: Yeah. So before we get into it, why don't you tell us a little bit about yourselves?
Stela, why don't you go first?
Stela Lupushor: Stela Lupushor. I come from a math and computer science background.
I've played a variety of consulting and internal roles, mostly at the, in the HR space with the use of technology and analytics. And I have a big passion for bringing that mindset of using technology and analytics to make a better workplace experience for everyone. Currently I am a faculty, adjunct faculty at NYU.
I teach a class on digital workplace design and a capstone. I also do variety of consulting. And I also advise startups and venture funds on how to use technology in the context of the work environment to make a better workplace experience.
Tim Reitsma: Wow. I'm so intrigued by that just because I often hear is, We have a problem, let's get a piece of technology and it'll magically solve all the problems.
So I'm sure you've got a lot of stories in there. So thanks for the introduction Anna, love to, for you to introduce yourself.
Anna Tavis: So I am the department chair for Human Capital Management Programs at New York University. And, you know, my mission in life is to really educate and prepare the next generation leadership in not only human capital, but also in management in general.
The background, I have a long corporate career working on Wall Street, as well as in technology companies in the senior talent roles, in talent management, executive development, learning and development as a Chief Learning Officer for a Fortune 50 corporations. I also am a very global player.
I spent half of my corporate career in Europe. I'm working in, living in London, working for technology companies as well as in Scandinavia and then I brought all of this experience back to the US. And now, as I said, my main goal is to really make sure that the next generation is not only well-skilled, but also prepared as managers of human beings in the workplace.
And that was the whole mission behind the book, is to connect the dots that, think there's a lot of fascination with technology and computing right now. But I think the point is to really make all of those tools and hardware and software to really serve humanity in the right place. And that's my mission.
Tim Reitsma: I love that, just that intersect of humanity and technology and, you know, technology's not going anywhere. I mean, look at us, we're sitting, you know, across the country. Well, Canada, you're in the US. And so we're, you know, we're separated by a long distance and we have to embrace the technology.
And what I loved about the book, even just the title, Creating the Hybrid Workplace, the art and practice. And I don't know what, even when I read that, I went, What? There's an art and a practice to creating a hybrid workplace? I thought it was just send people off with a computer and you know, maybe come to the office once in a while, and then we call that hybrid.
We're gonna get into that in a minute. But for selfish reasons, anybody who listens to the show knows I like to ask a couple questions right off the beginning. And it's really because maybe just selfishly curious. I don't know, I haven't quite figured that out. But I'd love to ask the question, What does it mean to be a leader? And then maybe in this context, a workplace leader?
I would love to hear both of yours or either of yours thoughts around that word 'leader'.
Stela Lupushor: I think in my mind, a leader is someone who creates the space for everyone else to lead. It is about empowering, it's about coaching, it's about supporting and providing the resources necessary and having the back of the people that they manage and coach and lead.
Tim Reitsma: I love that. That's a big role, you know, I can imagine it could be anybody in the organization, but coaching, empowering creates the space, yeah.
Anna, do you have anything to add or anything?
Anna Tavis: I do think that leadership is multifaceted. There are times when you step back and listen and support and coach. But I think as we currently see in all of the events that are developing, there's a role for the leader to step up and actually lead and be in the front lines of, and maybe even ahead of your people. Far ahead of your people, but it has to be done in a certain way so that everyone else follows. Right? And I think that's the complexity of the leader role.
Because we've been inundated with a certain leadership models that, especially in the industry that are sort of top down, domineering, etc, we kind of tend to overreact and say all leader does is coach. But I think it's a much more complex role. It's a dialogue.
It's the really be very attuned and empathetic to the situation and know where to step up and be ahead of everyone else. And sometimes that's what it takes to create a breakthrough. And then went to step back and let others take your place. So I think leadership role is very complex and that's why despite the millions of books that's been written about it, we still have not figured it out.
Tim Reitsma: What really resonates with me is it's multifaceted. It's, sometimes a leader put on their coach hat and needs to coach. But sometimes the team just needs someone to make a decision and lead. And lead with maybe that unwavering ability of going, I don't know if this is right or not, but, so let's just go there anyways.
Right? Does that make you really, does that make somebody wanna follow them? So, I like that. It's, you know, all throughout LinkedIn right now, it's all about leaders need to coach. And leaders need to be silent and leaders need to just and I agree with that. And there's this other side where, you know, sometimes leaders need to step up and make the decisions and to really help guide the team. So I love that. Both of those responses.
So the next question I have, which is really about our publication, you know, we're a publication built on the foundation of helping build a better world of work. When you hear that phrase, build a better world of work, what comes to mind? Maybe that's a nice little, maybe it'll be a lead into our conversation here about your book, but build a better world of work, what comes to mind?
Anna Tavis: I think that it is the workplace is becoming very, again, very complex. And what it means to build a better workplace means different things to different people. And that's where I think we are at right now, trying to figure out and the technology and the data are helping us to have a better picture of what that complexity looks like and how to manage it.
This is why I think we wrote about hybrid workplace, because hybrid means many different things to different people. And it's not just two days in the office and three days at home. But it means that somebody will be there all the time in the office and somebody is going to be at home all the time, and there will be other third locations where people are going to take place.
Just using kind of the workplace in hybrid as an illustration of that experience of work that is very personalized. And I think that the workplace that is going to be able to focus and serve to that individuality and to that personal experience is going to be more successful. And just one more insight that I gained from multiple conversations these days.
I'm hearing more and more the use of the word hospitality in a sense of managing the workplace. That's more of, you know, a curated experience that is just like in any tourist, good tourist location, right? You are expect that type of service and arrangement made for your specific needs. So we're seeing this type of fine tuning happening in the workplace, and technology is allowing us to get there.
Tim Reitsma: Wow. There's a lot to unpack in there. And I know we're gonna get there with unpacking a little bit about the book.
And Stela, I am curious, what's top of mind for you when you hear that phrase?
Stela Lupushor: Thank you, Anna, because that gave me the time a little bit to, to think how to summarize some of the thoughts.
And I would use three key words. One is flexibility. Everybody has different needs, different expectations, different circumstances that may drive different definitions of what 'better' looks like for them. It is inclusive, and being more of an accepting of different needs and being able to tailor the conditions, tailor the technologies to, to people's needs to feel included in the world of work.
And lastly, it's accessible. So accessibility mostly from ADA definition, the formal definition, as well as accessibility from technology perspective, from physical design to make people able to participate regardless of their physical, cognitive, or preferences expectations.
Tim Reitsma: I love that summarized in three words: flexibility, inclusive, and accessible.
And when we think about hybrid, well, before we get into hybrid, why don't we just take another minute to define what hybrid work actually means. Anna, what's your thoughts on, I mean, we're diving kinda right into the book. We, I think we have to set that context first about what does hybrid work mean?
Anna Tavis: You know, let's start by what it is not. I think it will be a safe place and to me, hybrid doesn't mean two days in the office, three days at home or the other way around. So it's not about a number of days that you shut out between home and office. Hybrid really means, to Stella's point about flexibility, accessibility, and inclusivity.
And hybrid means that we can play with the variables given to us in the office and at home, and the third places, at co-working places. Let's even take cafes, the Starbucks around the block and libraries and all the other places available to us. And, you know, mix them all up and see what comes out on the other side to what it would look like.
And another component that is often, kind of not included in this particular definition of hybrid, but I would include technology in here. What kinds of hybrid technologies we can use? For example, the ever growing use of augmented realities and metaverses of, you know, that's kind of on the futuristic side of it, but that's already being brought in.
And other types of technologies, communication technologies that are allowing for an ongoing transparency, communication, et cetera, et cetera. So I think hybrid as a whole is a formula of those different ingredients, that people in the end put together for themselves and companies for themselves, because it doesn't just accommodate an individual.
It also has to serve the business purpose. So that's kind of where we are playing with many different variables and different companies will have to make their own decisions as well as the individuals. Because what the individuals as agents of, you know, the work, they can move around. If the company's preposition around hybrid doesn't work for them, they can move and choose another place of work.
And that's an option available all of us right now. So I think that's an additional component or decision, moment for people in choosing the place that works where they want to be.
Tim Reitsma: Yeah. So many job descriptions out there in the world right now are listed as we have a hybrid workplace, and what I'm hearing is it's what does that even mean?
I think organizations, what I'm hearing is needs to take it a step further and define, well, what does hybrid look like is often, again, I've seen, not that I'm looking for a job, but I'd love to see what people are saying about remote and hybrid. And it's often what you said right at the beginning, what it's not.
It's not, Oh, two days in the office, three days at home. Look at us, we're so flexible. But it's more than that.
Stella, your thoughts on that?
Stela Lupushor: I would say that in simple attempt to describe it, it's the fusion of digital and physical reality to create the most optimal environment for us to do our work.
So it may sound simple, but when you think about the type of integration that is needed, the type of security, the type of access level, the features, this fused reality needs to have in order for us to be productive. Whether we choose to work from home or from a cafe or from a remote island that we go to sit in the sun.
Anna Tavis: Yeah, if I could add something here. Because I do think that the technology decision you know, Stela calls it digital, but I think it's the broader technology solution that accommodates and facilitates that hybrid arrangement is often not even discussed. But I think for example, what we are seeing with monitoring technologies right now. You know, is the company going to be monitoring you as you are remote?
Then how remote is that actually, because you do have a lot of surveillance of your work. And we know that there's a big discussion, conversation going about that. So I think when people talk about remote, it's not just commute. They need to be asking questions about what kind of technology support they're going to have, including all the other HR implications that will take us a long way down a very complicated road, right, Stela?
Stela Lupushor: It's under invested area for so long, and we typically think about all of the technology in the context of the workplace as mostly to reduce the cost and increase the resilience of the organizational infrastructure. It's rarely thought from a point of worker experience, what it's like to interact with tools that don't talk to each other, that have a very poor user experience, that are not accessible.
Because all of that impacts our productivity, impacts our ability to feel that somebody cares about our experience and what we do and how we do it. So, the same type of transformation that happened to the consumer experience and how much more investment organizations are making to delight and make it seamless and reduced the friction. The same type of thinking is time to be brought to the world of work.
Because if we as workers don't know what a good experience looks like, how can we be expected to deliver that to others?
Tim Reitsma: I think such an important point, right? Creating that internal user experience. We think about I spent a part of my career in the customer experience side of fields, like looking external. And then I had an opportunity to kind of flip that and look internally I was an internal consultant for a large organization looking at things like our onboarding experience.
And we're onboarding people in the office, but also in other parts in our case in Canada and North America. And so even looking at those experiences and going, Wow, like we're so disconnected with our tools, with our tool stack. Nothing talks to each other. We don't actually know, if somebody has a problem, they gotta put in a support ticket and wait three days to get they're computer fixed, but yet they're sitting at home.
Or you know, as you still put that visualization in my mind of sitting on a nice sunny island, that's where I wish I was right now. But you know, I think that is so, so key when we're thinking about the art and the practice of creating that hybrid experiences is taking the time to look internal.
And what have you seen, like I'm sure you've come across companies that have done it well and companies that have not done it well. And you don't need to go into maybe specific examples of company names, but I'm really curious of a hybrid experience that has, you know, perhaps really worked.
And I know it's a bit of nuance question because every organization is different, but there someone that kind of stands out to you?
Anna Tavis: I was just at a conference, a WORKTECH22 in New York that was hosted by Accenture in their innovation hub. And I went on a tour of their new office space that is totally designed in the wake of the pandemic with an idea and the language that I really loved hearing, creating magnetic workplaces.
And you know, one of the things that struck me, first of all, their occupancy, because of the way the office is designed is fairly high, given that they have a very liberal, you know, policies around working in the office. They have 60, 70% occupancy.
Pretty much most of the time, and it has to do, I think it has to do with the quality of the office that they built. You know, because if you think about the ergonomic design, everything that Stela talked about, the accessibility, the, you know, temperature sensors, you know, the whole place was wired with sensors in terms of measuring temperature, measuring occupancy, measuring air quality and everything.
So it's an incredibly intelligent environment, which with a beautiful views because it's on the 64th floor in Hudson Yards, all having this magnificent view of New York City, above the roofs. Right? So I think if you create a workplace like this, a very intelligently created spaces where people can really customize accommodate their specific needs.
Then, that will be the situation where, you know, people would be staying home, but they also have an equivalent of much more competitive place to do their work. And the question of the cities came in because, you know, we talk about smart cities, but I think the fact that there's much shorter commute that is people have access to, they don't have to drive, they can use public transportation, et cetera.
So, that made that particular office for me to stand out. And listening to the people in that office to specifically talk about how they think about it, using that term hospitality all the time was very compelling. In addition to that, they have their augmented reality, metaverse spaces, et cetera, where while in the office, unfortunately those tools are not available at home to people.
They can actually have a live conversation with people from other offices and around the world in those types of spaces. So I think when we are going to be able to provide those environments everywhere, that's where I see a successful hybrid working.
Tim Reitsma: Yeah. I think that's kind of like the gold standard I'm thinking of like, Wow I want to just Google and see if I can, you know, not that I'm looking to relocate to New York, but I just wanna see the office. Like it sounds...
Anna Tavis: It's 1 Manhattan West. I just talked about technology, but people are exceptionally friendly. I mean, everyone is like smiling and it's a very, a very inclusive to Stela's point, very inclusive, very welcoming place.
Don't you want to be smiled at when, you know, it's not what you get in Starbucks sometimes, right?
Tim Reitsma: Absolutely. Yeah.
Stela Lupushor: Tim, I may have a solution for you if you don't wanna relocate. So there's another example of how technology can extend that physical reality because some people may not be able to come or they're not in the proximity of such a beautiful office space.
So, we learned recently about a company called Shared Studios. So it is a collection of cameras, microphones, and devices that are relatively cheap. You don't need the immersive reality room or anything too sophisticated. It's basic stuff that is used to retrofit a space that allows others, with the same kind of setting to feel they are in the same room as you.
So it's a screen and has adjustments to the size. So in a way, there is a, it scales adequately, so you don't feel that you're looking small mirror. And it allows people to share their time together, even though there is a screen and miles away in between them. They feel that proximity.
So while it's not a hundred percent the same feeling that you get when you are in a room or somebody, there's a magic to that. But it's close enough to make you feel that there is some presence without necessarily having to commute or travel or relocate.
Anna Tavis: So, Stela, yeah I'm very familiar with Shared Studios.
Accenture actually has similar panels everywhere around their office. So they actually have that available to this kind of virtual connection. They have metaverse, but the panels, these panels, these segmented, this three dimensional reality where they were bringing people in from like San Francisco and it was fully three dimensional and really accessible.
So, you know, can we do that? At some point, all of these technologies are just being tried out right now in these, but I think Stela's point is, that this is becoming more and more commercially available and more available to other places. So we need kind of the pioneers to set the stage and then commodify these technologies that very soon are gonna be available to all of us.
Tim Reitsma: Yeah, I think there's a couple things that are coming to mind even in that example the word that you already used, which is the flexibility. And so, you know, I've, I have many friends who are able to work wherever they want. I've also have friends who are forced to, like literally forced to be in an office two days a week and then are able to sit at home three days a week.
And they much prefer sitting at home because they can get a lot more done. Also than they don't have to commute that 45 minutes to an hour and a half each way. So this idea of flexibility, but also creating an office environment that people are excited to be at. Have you seen that? I know with the pandemic and now we're returning to the office, are organizations really having to rethink how they, you know, they want people to come to the office?
People are craving that in person connection. So are businesses and companies really having to rethink this right now?
Stela Lupushor: Increasingly, I hear a lot more examples where organizations ask people to come one day to the office and mostly to be for social gatherings, not for work. Because you end up, you know, commuting that hour and a half and sitting in front of a Zoom call anyway, because others are not there.
So instead, it's encouraging people to come just so they have a break in their week. And then there's always either happy hours or some sort of a teaming activities that allow people to build trust, build the relationships, get to know each other on a more personal level. So then when they do work remotely or out of that island, they have that relationship built in and they have the rapport.
Anna Tavis: You know, one of the things I want to say, like in a lot of conversations that there's an implication that people have conditions at home to be working, you know, better, right? People have, assuming that people have nice homes, you know, they have workspace that is, you know, allowing them to do work.
There's been a recent article that I really supported because, you know, living in New York City, I know a lot of people who don't have those conditions at home, especially more junior people. I mean, that's why we see the divide. And if we talk about inclusivity, there was an article, I think in the Wall Street Journal about people going to the office on Fridays because there was no one in the office.
But that allowed them to do work and then at the same time have the, have the conditions that. So we have to be very careful in kind of saying against the office. And think hybrid, I don't think the option of not going to the office. I think about creating multiple options for people so that they can prioritize what's important to them, adjust to their personalities.
Because some people actually, that's why you see a lot of people working in coffee shops because they actually can focus. But I sometimes can focus better if there are, there's a lot of traffic around me and I just have my headphones on and I work. And if I'm at home, I need a little bit more of an action around me.
It depends. So I think we have to be very careful because a lot of this discussion is very much anti-office. And the case I want to make is exactly what I described with this Accenture example, that the offices have to be comparable to in conditions and the other way around. You know, and if people end up going to the office and everyone is like, I'm craving to be sitting in my, you know, three story house in the suburbs, you know, that puts you in a very different socioeconomic class than those people who actually were looking to go to the office because they, they had better working conditions. So I just wanna make that point.
Tim Reitsma: And no, I think it's a fair point. You know, I'm one who, I'm sitting in my home office whenever I record podcasts, I'm at home.
I love going to the office. I like the commute, to be honest. It's about 40 minutes. It's where I catch up on the news, on the way to work, and then I just decompress on the way home. I just love the buzz of the office. And when I, you know, if it's too noisy in there we work in a, in a shared space, in a co-working space.
So I just, you know, grab my laptop and go to a coffee shop, you know, and grab some inspiration from there. So, you know, it's not one shoe or one size fits all. I think what I'm gathering from this conversation is organizations really need to sit down and go, Okay, well, how can we be the best that we can be?
How can we be the most productive? How can we achieve our goals? What is gonna help us do that? And I had a guest on a while ago who said, they had a real divide, what you're saying, and a real divide in their workforce. All the juniors, people coming outta university were in the office and excited to be there.
All the senior people were at home. And all the junior people were going like, I just wanna be mentored by you, but there's nobody there. And so they actually had to create a new policy about, Okay, senior people, you have to come to the office because our now junior workforce, or our new workforce is not getting the mentorship that they need.
So they actually, they saw this divide as you said.
Anna Tavis: And let me give you an example. I think the public sector of the economy that suffered most is education. And I'm in education, right? So people who got really damaged by working at home are students, as students, high school, elementary, in the educational pipeline, this whole generation lost significantly.
And this is why we see examples of mental health issues, different social type of, you know, alienation, et cetera. So at the university right now, here is what I deal with as a department chair. Most of our students want to be in person. Now, a lot of our students want to be in person.
Oh, faculty don't want to come in. You know, we have a real dilemma because the faculty are comfortable working from home and writing their books or doing whatever they're doing. They don't want to, you know, the bother of commute, et cetera. The students want to see them. And so I think to your point about that generational divide and the people who do not want to be here at all are administrators.
No, the university like being, you know, servicing who are our clients, you know, to this kind of very, what are we here for? What's the purpose of our being a university? You know, otherwise we are all going to be online carras, right? But that's not what students want.
They want to be in a classroom, interact, engage, and it's a formative time in their professional and personal career. And then you get more senior people and people who do administrative work. So I think organizations, when, again, when we talk about hybrid need to be mindful that there may be different groups and they need to be figuring out how to accommodate all of them at the same time, not at the expense of the primary client who are the students.
You know, if I let all of our faculty do what they want, they would be just teaching from home from the comfort of their living rooms. But the students are really suffering, so.
Tim Reitsma: Well, it, it goes right back to Stela's point earlier on, which is that user experience, that internal user experience.
And you know, I think we need to call it out as well, is that not all organizations have the option to go hybrid. You know, there are people who, and workforces that need to be in stores, you know, in our grocery stores, for example, or on production lines and things like this.
So creating that equitable environment, if somebody is on a manufacturing floor or on an assembly line, but all of their bosses are remote and they see this as going, Well, why do I have to come in? Now we're just creating this, it's not an inclusive workforce, but it's that looking at that internal design and that user experience.
Anna Tavis: Excellent point.
Stela Lupushor: There are also ways of creatively rethinking some of the work itself. Right? And that's kind of the cornerstone of our book structures. Not only thinking about the workforce and the workplace, but the work itself and how it is structured and design and orchestrated. Many times certain things we assume that it cannot be done virtually, right?
We have people who do repair work, right? You have to have a technician who's gonna go in the field. However, there are tools and technologies that allow a remote guidance. So you have the person who's, the problematic equipment at home that can show the repair person.
And then the repairs, the equipment that is malfunctioning and then the repair person can guide them and coach them along the way on what to do and how to fix it. There are increasingly a lot more of the post-sale support that are starting to do some of these remote administration or at about support.
So, again, certain things will have to be in person. Certain things might, technology may give us the opportunity to rethink how that it gets done, to alleviate talent shortages, to alleviate some of the expensive travel needs, and localization of certain services.
Tim Reitsma: Yeah, I agree. And I think it's, again, going right back to the beginning, which is then embracing the technology and embracing digitalization of our work environments.
And so, you know, as we look to kind of wrap up the conversation, for those who are listening and going, Well, I thought hybrid was really just exactly that. Just a couple days here and there and, you know, go work in a coffee shop. And, you know, aside from picking up your book Humans at Work, which will kind of bend your mind thinking about, Okay, why are we talking about, you know, flexibility or inclusivity when we're thinking about, well, we just need to have enough desks for people when everyone comes in or create a hot desk, or now we need monitoring software.
That's a whole, don't get me started on that one. But you know, where should we start? You know, if a leader or HR team is listening to this and going, Okay, we know maybe you're losing people, maybe people are not enjoying the work environment. Where do we start? How do we design a place that people are excited to be at?
Stela Lupushor: I will start with the pandemic I think created an opportunity for us to rethink a lot of models and bust certain myths and help us understand that productivity does not necessarily equal presence in the office. That we can be as productive out of anywhere, that we need social interaction with humans.
We need to have a balance and provide flexibility. And it's a spectrum, right? It's not something that you either go home or you go from the office. It's a spectrum along the workforce design, workplace design, along the work definition, around the values that people expect depending on their life circumstances and conditions.
So, one example that I wanna give is, we are talking now about creating hotels in space. Talk about workplaces and kind of expanding our mindset of what it means to go to work, right? How might we use these new phases in how we work as humans to rethink what is the definition of work environment?
Because we are given the chance to reimagine it and use technology to make it better, to make it more inclusive, to make it more accessible for people. So many times it's just asking, what is the most important to you as a worker? And how can we as an organization support you without creating that divide?
Tim Reitsma: Sounds so simple, just ask your people. And sit back and even think as a, as in a leadership team or an exec team of like that, how might we design or create an environment that's, you know, people can get excited about to come in, like, I think about Accenture, but also feel included when they're not able to come in?
So, Anna, what's your closing thought on that?
Anna Tavis: Yeah, so I don't think that asking people is enough, because a lot of people don't know what they don't know. And, I think it said some very important first step, but there's, it's a lot more, you know, thoughtful process that needs to be involved.
First of all, I don't think that people should be settling just based on, again, kind of the negative. Make a list of what you don't want as a first step. Let's just be very clear about what you don't want. But what you actually want, I would say that's the space for experimentation and trial and error. Try things out.
And there's nothing wrong with saying, you know, we are gonna actually change gears because situations have changed, things have changed for the business, things have changed for people personally. You know, somebody started a family from being alone and have a different requirement. So I think we need to build for sustainability and to accommodate that, I think we, you know, we overuse the word Agile.
But we need to be flexible and we need to allow people change their mind, as well as organizations to have the ability to say, You know what? I need everyone in the office this week because we have this agenda. And I see it, for example, in the startups. You know, you would saying startups, of course, people can work from a coffee shop, et cetera, et cetera.
And then getting offices. Why? And they say we'll love getting together as a startup team because we are always fighting fires, et cetera, et cetera. So, at the same time, you know, if you are in a big organization and you are doing your project job day in and day out, it's the same. You know, you may be better off working from home.
So what I am advocating for here is be very clear on what is not acceptable to you. But be open and flexible and agile around the solutions you are offering. Understanding that nothing is, you know, a written in stone, that they might change, the situations might change. And built in that flexibility and adaptability because that's what, at the end of the day, that's what we all want.
Right? So I think that's where I am at right now.
Tim Reitsma: I love that. I love that, just be clear on what you don't want. Ask your people. People don't necessarily know what they don't know and be flexible, try. And I'm guessing trying new things, but also communicating with your teams that you're gonna try and do something new.
You're gonna try and things might not work and have fun along that journey. For me, what boils down to is my team, I really don't care where they work. They can come to the office, they can be on a beach somewhere. As long as we know what we're doing and where we're going and how we're gonna get there.
People can be productive whether you're sitting on a beach or sitting in this augmented reality office in New York at Accenture.
So, thank you so much for coming on. I encourage anybody who's interested in hybrid is here to stay. You know, we're seeing remote work, we're seeing in-office work, but this idea of a hybrid and I think it's, whether you're setting up a hybrid office or not, pick up this book.
It's a great read. Humans at Work: The Art and Practice of Creating the Hybrid Workplace. It's more than just, Hey, make sure you have Slack and Google set up and away you go. There's so much more to it.
So with that, Anna and Stela, thank you both for coming on the show today.
Stela Lupushor: Thank you for the opportunity.
Anna Tavis: Thank you.
Tim Reitsma: Thank you. And for those who are listening, as always, if you have any questions, comments, drop me an email, email@example.com. Also, please like and subscribe at the podcast if you do so and if you don't, again, send me a note, connect with me on LinkedIn.
Anna and Stela, how can people reach out to you or connect with you? What's the best way for, if people do have questions about hybrid?
Stela Lupushor: I think the easiest is LinkedIn as well. Stela Lupushor. Stela with one L.
Anna Tavis: And Anna Tavis at LinkedIn as well. Thank you.
Tim Reitsma: Perfect. And we'll definitely be putting those links in the show notes. So, with that, Anna and Stela, have a great day. For those who are listening, I hope you have a good one as well.