Two years after the COVID-19 pandemic brought global travel to a standstill, one thing remains clear: hybrid work is here to stay.
Persistent travel restrictions and a slower than expected return to the office are leading companies to invest in solutions designed to facilitate business in hybrid work environments. Business leaders quick to adapt with strategies for transacting business remotely have weathered the storm, continually engaging clients and partners globally while minimizing unnecessary travel and maximizing the efficiency of digital channels.
Here’s how several global business leaders have met the challenge.
Jeremi Gorman, Snap Inc. Chief Business Officer: Replacing in-person sales meetings with shorter, more focused strategy discussions
“The global ad sales team was accustomed to visiting our customers in person. This allowed us to forge strong relationships, demo new products, learn deeply about their businesses by taking tours of their facilities, and to develop a cadence of innovation together. At first, we tried to replicate that by setting up recurring video meetings, coming up with clever virtual happy hours for our advertisers, and programming virtual thought leadership meetings. However, as time has worn on, we have learned that less is more. No one wants a long Zoom call, even if the programming is excellent or the fancy chef is teaching great virtual recipes.
“We pivoted to focusing more on the core of our partnerships, using the valuable time we are given to deeply discuss shared goals, the principles of our business, and to share demonstrated results and recommendations. We have more, but shorter, meetings, something I would say has enhanced our partnership. Quarterly business reviews have given way to weekly sessions on optimizations and strategy. Because we can do more meetings absent commutes and flights, we are able to join meetings we normally wouldn’t, learning more about other teams internally and more customers externally, allowing us to be even deeper experts in the categories in which our clients operate.” — P&G Signal360
Mahalakshmi R, Mondelez India Director of Human Resources: Creating “geography-agnostic” roles
“The pandemic accelerated the adoption of flexible working and digital became our biggest ally. We also realize that for many of our roles ‘geography is history’ and we have begun to identify roles that are geography-agnostic …It’s only fair to say that the future of work is very much here and this is a fantastic opportunity for organizations and leaders to adapt to this hybrid reality, which is here to stay.” – Economic Times
Arvind Krishna, IBM CEO: Keeping it flexible, no “hard and fast rules”
“Today, we are at about 15% in the office. It varies a lot by geography, so that number can be somewhere between 40,000 and 50,000 [employees] who come into work some. If you look at Australia, if you look at China, a lot of people are coming back to work. When you look in Singapore, maybe in the middle. I come to Western Europe, almost nobody is in the office. I come to the U.S., maybe 10% are in the office. The 15% [of employees working in-person] are not mandated. We simply open the buildings right now and say those who feel safe can choose to come in … We’re not yet making hard and fast rules.” – Bloomberg Businessweek
Sergio Ezama, PepsiCo Chief Talent Officer and Chief Human Resources Officer, Global Functions and Groups: Giving employees choice about where they want to work
“When we started to ask our employees about ‘how are you thinking about coming back?’… contrary to much of the news you read, people were not asking us for remote. Our people were asking us for choice. They were like, ‘Give me the opportunity to decide where and how I do my work.’ … In China, the country where we have the largest workforce that has been open for longer, when we implemented Work that Works [PepsiCo’s flexible workplace model for corporate associates] around the world, the local intelligence was one of: ‘Oh you are going to see… people still, by and large, are going to be willing to come back to the office. It’s a more traditional culture.’ I was looking at the data last month; they are already in a sweet spot of 50% in the office and 50% remote. So it seems our assumption is working well — with the caveat that it is only one country.” – CNN.com
Julie Sweet, Accenture CEO: Where things are already back to normal
“China is being very resilient. We have a lot of companies who are stopping investment here and trying to do more investment there. You see countries like South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan address the crisis much better … We have 15,000 people [in China]. Our operations there are almost completely back to normal. That being said, there’s been a big shock to the system and China manufacturing is heavily dependent still on demand outside of China.” – Time