Are you a champion leader in a hybrid environment?

28 Sep 2021

By Kirstin Cooper

CBRE Asia Pacific’s latest report on the Future of Work has recently been released and focuses on the office occupier sentiment on the future of their office portfolio and workplace across the region.

One of the four themes impacting how the future looks for New Zealand occupiers is the adoption of hybrid working and the challenges that occupiers are now facing within the workplace. We paired this with real life views from interviews conducted in the first half of 2021 where large corporate occupiers shared their view of lessons learned from Covid-19 over the last 18 months and the future impact this will have on their workplace and future strategy.

Adoption of hybrid working: Flexible controls to increase productivity

Hybrid working is a topic that has been touched on often and a working style that was rapidly adopted through necessity by many organisations with the sudden onset of lockdowns.

This has led to a much wider adoption and acceptance of flexible and remote working since the restrictions have lifted - and has meant leaders have had to relinquish a lot of the control they previously had. Instead of focusing on when, where and how teams work, they must now place a much greater emphasis on managing outcomes, building culture and fostering employee wellbeing - and this is a big shift for some leaders.

What is now coming to light is how to manage hybrid working into the future. How are organisations implementing controls to ensure productivity, culture and space are optimised while still offering and encouraging a hybrid approach to working? Many leaders feel ill-equipped to manage a hybrid team and are unsure what the steps are to rectify this.

A new way of leading

Gartner created a framework outlining four types of hybrid leaders: Laggards, Resisters, Strivers and Champions. Being a Champion is where we all want to get to; these leaders have the right mindset and skill set to lead a workforce that is hybrid by nature. At the moment, the majority of leaders are Strivers; they’re really open to leading hybrid working teams but just don’t know how to do this effectively yet.

There is a multitude of things leaders can do to improve their effectiveness as a hybrid leader. None of the leadership skills required are new, they just need to be adapted and modified to suit a hybrid working environment.

What we’re hearing from our large corporate occupiers earlier this year was that they are all working hard to find the right balance. “We've struggled a bit to get our arms around it, it's actually harder to run the team from home.” It is expected that the approach to leading hybrid teams will develop and evolve over time, as we all continue to adapt to these new ways of working.

Controls vs flexibility

In terms of rules around hybrid work arrangements, the occupier survey results show that for the majority of occupiers in both the total APAC market and in Australia and New Zealand, the day-to-day work schedule of hybrid working is set at a direct manager level.

What rules will you apply to remote working policies?


Source: CBRE

Not putting controls in place around how hybrid working should be managed could potentially derail an organisation, but too many controls removes the flexibility. There is no one-size-fits-all approach as outlined in the latest CBRE Workplace report The Next Normal. Organisations need to find the balance that is specific to their industry, organisation and even team. Our occupier interviews backed this sentiment up with comments such as, “It's got to suit you; it's got to suit the firm and it's got to suit the clients.”

Flattening the curve

As the occupier survey results highlight, Australia and New Zealand participants show an increase in favouring less frequent flexibility. This may reflect the pendulum swinging back as organisations focus on creating a sustainable hybrid workforce where flexible working patterns not only support employee choice but maintain culture, community and talent development.

How often do you anticipate your employees with work remotely?


Source: CBRE

What is the role of the office?

The trends being observed in the market are shifting towards the office being predominantly a place to connect and collaborate, providing a space for employees to hang out together. while scheduled virtual activities can often be done at home. Though it’s never black and white with organisations needing to bring a flex element even into this mindset as employees undertake a whole host of different activities throughout each day.

As we deal with the current lockdown to stamp out the Delta variant, this may add even more complexity to the workplace, as we take lessons learnt over the past 18 months to plan better for the future.

This it the first part in our Future of Work series. The next part looks at how flexible space is changing portfolio strategies for organisations.