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July 1, 2021

The hybrid future of work will require a different leadership mindset and skill set | Mahan Tavakoli Partnering Leadership Insight

The hybrid future of work will require a different leadership mindset and skill set | Mahan Tavakoli Partnering Leadership Insight
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In this episode of Partnering Leadership, Mahan Tavakoli talks about the challenges of a hybrid work environment for organizations and what leaders can do to successfully transition into a hybrid work environment.

Some highlights:

-Defining the purpose for bringing people back together

-The advantages of working in-person compared to remote work

-The some of the leadership challenges when operating in a hybrid work environment

-OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) as a system to align teams in a hybrid work environment

-Best practices in leading the transition to the hybrid future of work


Doug Dennerline’s episode on Partnering Leadership about Objective and Key Results

Webinar on OKRs for Georgetown University 

Connect with Mahan Tavakoli:


More information and resources available at the Partnering Leadership Podcast website: 



Mahan Tavakoli: 

Welcome to Partnering Leadership. I'm really excited to have you along with me on this journey of learning and growth. And I'm absolutely honored to have your support and your enthusiasm as the podcast listenership skyrockets all across the region, the country and the globe. 

It's a tremendous honor for me to have these conversations with the magnificent Changemakers from the greater Washington DC region on Tuesdays. And then on Thursdays with leadership book authors, whose books I think can be truly transformative to our own leaders. 

Again, I don't think any single data point will by itself make the difference. However, as we see and listen to these different data points, gain different insights, that's what helps us establish new patterns of thinking and translate those patterns of thinking into our behavior.

So it's wonderful hearing all of your comments and feedback. Keep those coming. I love hearing from you.  mahan@mahantavakoli.com. There's a microphone icon on partnering leadership.com. Really enjoy your voice messages. And don't forget to follow this podcast to be sure that you're notified of new episodes. And those of you that enjoy it on apple, leave a rating and review when you get a chance. That will help more people find these conversations. 

Now, as you know, the first Thursday of every month, I do a leadership insight where primarily, I try to focus on some of my own thoughts with respect to leadership. Now, something that has been happening over the past couple of months is that a lot of the senior executives that I'm interacting with are literally freaking out. And if you aren't, maybe you should too.  They are really concerned about the return to a hybrid work environment. And they should be. The hybrid work environment is not a little bit of in-person and a little bit of remote. You should think about it as being totally different. 

And in thinking about it that way, I tell my clients and I'm going to urge you to consider the fact that the world of work and people's expectations have changed drastically as a result of the pandemic. Our priorities have changed. We have realized what's important to us. 

Some of us that were spending a ton of time in the car, driving back and forth don't want to do that anymore. And some of the people that have been productive not doing that have good reasons for not wanting to go back to the office environment. 

I have a client and one of their employees was commuting from Centerville, Virginia, to downtown DC every day. For those of you not familiar with the geography of this region, that could be an hour to, depending on traffic, hour plus of commuting every day. Now, she doesn't want to come back to the office anymore. She tells her boss, said, "Wait a minute. I have been productive for over a year. Even more productive than I was before. I'm doing my work well. And you have been telling me that I'm doing my work well. Why do you need me back into office?" And that's the challenge that this client has and a lot of other people are going to have.  

Now, I am mindful of the fact that there is real value with employees being together. If you're not a fully remote organization and most of the organizations I know are not fully remote, you will want to have your people together for different purposes at different times. However, it needs to be well thought through. This is not something that gets mandated by the CEO, or the HR department. 

And the way to think about it is that your team needs a greater voice and greater choice. It doesn't matter what ideas you come up with. Ask your people, give them a voice. And yes, with that voice, they do want to have a choice.

So therefore leaders will have to think of what is the purpose of us being together? Let's see how we can maximize that purpose and then take advantage of the in-person opportunities and allow people greater flexibility for when they want to be remote. 

There are a lot of advantages to being remote. The increased flexibility. Think about the environment, the reduced carbon footprint. There is increased employee satisfaction. So instead of those foosball tables and everything else companies were putting in their offices, now flexibility will become a key driver of how organizations can recruit top talent. And if you don't provide that flexibility, it's your top talent that will have the first choice to go elsewhere. 

However, I also understand there are real issues to be considered if you want to operate in the hybrid environment. In this case, you will have some people spending more time in person and some people less time in person. 

As human beings, we connect a lot better in person. Yes. Zoom has done a great job in keeping us somewhat connected over time, but it doesn't compare to in-person interactions. So, need to be a lot more intentional with respect to relationship building. 

Also, managers need to be careful with allocation of time and resources where employees are positioned. It makes a difference with respect to their access to resources and their visibility. 

Think about it. We connect better with people that are visible. A lot of times employees want that face time with their managers, with their supervisors. So if you have some of your people that are working remote most of the time, and some of the people that are in-person most of the time, you as a manager or leader, need to be aware of the advantage that those people that are spending more time in person have. 

Communication challenges a lot of times we expect communication to take place. Now that in many organizations, people were all remote, organizations did a great job in trying to communicate consistently to all their remote employees. When you have some that are in person, you have to be as mindful with respect to those communications. There will be significant onboarding challenges. Making sure that you maintain culture and make sure that the people that you bring into the organization become part of that culture. 

Productivity has been an issue and will continue to be an issue for organizations, which is why I'm a big advocate for objectives and key results. When implemented well, they can have teams be much more outcome oriented rather than activity oriented. That is really important for you to consider as you transitioned into a hybrid environment.  

Just please keep in mind. Hybrid is not a little bit of each. If anything, it's actually more difficult than to transition to fully remote. So it is not a little bit of what we did pre pandemic, and then a little bit of what we did when we were remote. You need to think through hybrid differently. And in order to do that, give your people greater voice. And find ways to give them greater choice. But be mindful of all the considerations, whether with respect to culture or manage your allocation of time and resources to intentional relationship building that a hybrid environment requires. 

I know it's pretty straightforward, but it's not easy. Give your team greater voice and greater choice.

 If you have any questions for me on this or anything else, feel free to reach out mahan@mahantavakoli.com. As I said, I love hearing from you. I am really enjoying these conversations with the magnificent change makers and thought leaders. I know you are too based on your feedback. So keep that coming. That keeps me energized. I have a lot of great thought leaders and changemakers in store for you. Listen every single week, Tuesdays and Thursdays for new releases