Hybrid + Economic Uncertainty is Hard. Recent Science Has Some Answers…

Even though remote and hybrid work may feel like a frustrating puzzle that keeps changing, the truth is knowledge workers have been edging closer to remote or hybrid work (and leveraging interim resources) for years. Programming work began outsourcing in the 1980s (so interim experts + remote), and then with the rise in cloud and mobile technologies, consider how we all have more muscle memory in this blended workforce strategy than we realize. So what’s new? 

First, we have more data on how hybrid work is impacting many aspects of our teamwork. Researchers are tracking the fragmentation of organizational network structures. What does that mean? 

You might have noticed that ‘bonding’ within your team (where each person interacts with all the other people) increased with the fast shift to remote work, but the ‘bridging’ connections (social capital across groups) went down. This is termed the Neighborhood Effect, which researcher Michael Arena says has “limited our ability to work broadly and dive deeply in a hybrid context, and it has placed both innovation and complex problem-solving at risk”.  

But of course where there is a challenge, there is also an opportunity. First, you could be the “Positive Deviant” (I want to be this!) – a person who is able to not only maintain the social fabric, but make it better. Do you have anyone on your team (formally or informally) who has this interest and skill? Are they nailing it, or are they overloaded with work and missing this opportunity that would accelerate the outcomes of the organization? 

This is where hybrid + economic uncertainty come together to (possibly scream): consider interim expertise! 

Second, remember that there are key questions to revisit with your team depending on if they are hybrid, in office or remote. Since there is no default way of structuring work anymore – how we collaborate requires iteration, learning, and adapting for how our teams harness the best of each approach. 

We’ve learned that the Great Resignation doesn’t necessarily mean people are not working anymore, it’s more the shift to work-life balance (we prefer ‘work life blend’) with 58% of global workers rethinking work and life, and of course, creating cultures where people actually can do their best work…and enjoy their lives.  

Third, just as the great resignation doesn’t mean people aren’t working, a drop in hiring doesn’t mean companies don’t need additional team expertise. In fact, each time there is a drop in hiring, we see a rise in interim requests. Interim hiring is a brilliant economic strategy. I remember when Wharton Professor Peter Cappelli first wrote about ‘Talent on Demand’, my little neurons were flashing HARD at how smart this was (and informed my entrepreneurial business plan).

It’s an all-around win/win/win…

Win 1 – Leaders love to get the work done without committing to a full-time employee headcount.
Win 2 – Our consultants enjoy jumping in with sleeves rolled up and fresh eyes on the project. 
Win 3 – We love providing this fluid approach to work and ensuring that everyone is thriving and not overworked. 

So if you’re stressed about hiring being on hold, or how your culture continues to adapt to the changing hybrid/remote/in-person evolution, consider the creative win/win/win to lift up your “positive deviants” who may be overloaded (or any other key needs your team has but can’t hire for), and keep your eye on the science of teamwork!

Questions about how the current changes in the world of work play out in your organization?  Reach out to us for a chat today!


Work is a team sport. We are on your team — drop us a line to tell us how we can help.