Some time ago, I published a Linkedin post describing and summarizing my findings from various workshops and training in companies on hybrid and digital collaboration. As a result, I received so many messages on Linkedin with the reaction that this was the first time they heard the term „healthy“ work organisation in this context. Questions often came up about what this is exactly and what it takes to implement a „healthy“ hybrid work organisation. This also resulted in an IOM Talk with Björn Nagelmann.
Many only think about the place of work rather than the time and best possible organisation in terms of synchronous and asynchronous collaboration.
Gartner estimates that about 70% of the executive-employee relationship will be remote. Employees, managers, or even the entire team will work on different tasks at different times and places. Time and location play a significant and unique role in the new work setting. Managers will have less insight into the work reality of individual employees and the entire team. This means measuring performance based on output/work results becomes more important than time present. It’s a misconception that eight hours of attendance equals eight hours of productivity.
The majority of executives believe that virtual meetings are perfectly sufficient to share ideas and engage creatively. And there is a misconception that the more meetings are used, the better the team works together and can get creative. In reality, we feel rushed through the day, running from one meeting to the next and stressed out. The „online“ time increases dramatically; there are hardly any offline breaks.
Synchronous working is essential to foster exchange and trust within the team. However, the general feedback shows that online meetings, constant synchronous collaboration, and thus constant online accessibility leads to fatigue up to complete exhaustion and a high risk of burnout. Studies have shown that working online and using tools stresses the human brain differently. Many managers use only synchronous working methods far too often or still fundamentally rely on the presence and think about ways and means of online employee monitoring.
In my view, a „healthy“ hybrid or generally digital team organisation has the following elements. The main thing here is to prevent overwork, avoid frustration, and keep performance high:
✅ Have a good balance between asynchronous and synchronous collaboration based on process requirements and team preferences: what absolutely must be done synchronously in real time and what can be done by everyone according to their schedule and focus time. There is no „one-size-fits-all“ solution here.
✅ Ensure high transparency in hybrid teams: who, what, when, where.
✅ Create guidelines for hybrid working together with the team to clarify expectations and individual preferences and set an everyday context
✅ Rethink meeting culture: when are „synchronous“ meetings necessary and, what can be done synchronously before and after, how can meeting design and tool use prevent overload and fatigue in meetings
✅ Understanding the use of tools and how to use them correctly
✅ Access to all necessary information, documents
✅ Transparency about tasks, roles
✅ Have good efficient communication: communication at a distance and hybrid is to be done differently than in physical space
Concepts and beliefs regarding collaboration and communication need to be adapted. To promote productivity in the digital world of work – be it more or less hybrid – while avoiding overload, we need to move away from the standard of linear synchronous scheduling from the old analog world to a new standard of healthy asynchronous flexibility.
Managers need to be aware of their new roles and help shape this new world of work. Employees have different expectations of flexible working, and managers should be mindful of them and consider them.