Rethinking Productivity: Embracing Outcomes in Hybrid Work

Is your company moving towards a hybrid model of work? Are you worried how you can ensure employee productivity when they are not in the office?

HR managers find themselves at the forefront of delivering success when companies move to the hybrid model. There are natural concerns about:

  • optimising productivity
  • ensuring policy compliance
  • inspiring office attendance
  • retaining company culture

These can feel daunting as companies embrace flexible working. However, the key to success might not lie in traditional notions of productivity. Flexible working advisor, Brian Elliott, told us how in his years working for and with hybrid companies, success has been found in redefining the outcomes.

Hear Brian Elliott speak to Kadence’s VP of People & Partnerships, Helen Attia, about embracing outcomes over productivity.
Navigating the Hybrid Policy Conundrum

Hybrid work policies are becoming the norm, with employees splitting their time between home and the office. Let’s be clear: leaders are worried about how they ensure employees are productive with the time they have. HR managers grapple with the task of ensuring compliance with these policies.

Instead of enforcing rigid rules, focus on cultivating a culture of trust and flexibility. Trust empowers employees, fostering a sense of loyalty that transcends physical boundaries. Rather than scrutinizing every minute of remote work, shift the emphasis towards measurable outcomes.

By setting clear expectations, employees are encouraged to manage their time efficiently. This results in increased autonomy and accountability. This not only reduces the need for micro-management, but also promotes a healthier work-life balance.

Motivating Office Time Beyond the Winter Blues

The winter months can cast a chill over employees’ enthusiasm for commuting to the office. HR managers face the challenge of motivating the workforce to step out of their cozy home offices.

Rather than relying on traditional incentives, consider the intrinsic motivations that drive employees. Create a workplace environment that encourages group work, innovation, and social connection. Highlight the benefits of face-to-face interactions. Emphasize the value of in-person collaboration for creativity and team dynamics.

It’s more than just inspiring employees to attend the office. They want to have their own motivations for coming into the office. You don’t need to persuade your teams, if they already feel compelled to join.

Allow employees to choose office days when they feel the most productive. This acknowledges personal needs and ensures that the office remains a vibrant hub of activity. As a knock-on effect, each employee will have fonder memories of the office. It’s likely they will want to come back.

Retaining Company Culture in a Hybrid World

Company culture was once nurtured within the confines of a physical office space. HR managers must preserve its essence, while employees navigate a new work model.

Rather than fixating on physical proximity, emphasize shared values and goals that transcend location. Be inclusive. Leverage technology to bridge the virtual divide. Consider virtual team-building activities, regular town hall meetings, and collaborative projects. These can strengthen the bonds among team members.

Solutions like Hybrid Work Management Software help ease your team into being apart and can help them organize their time. Their team will know when everyone is in the office or remote, without the need of fussy spreadsheets that cause frustration.

Encourage open communication channels. Ensure employees feel heard and valued regardless of their physical location. Grow a community in teams. This cultivates a resilient company culture that permeates from each team and thrives in both physical and virtual spaces.

Outcomes Over Metrics

Metrics like revenue per employee or hours worked can lead to a myopic view of productivity. HR managers must recognize that the true measure of success lies in the outcomes produced, not just the inputs.

Shift your mindset from tracking every minute to assessing tangible results. Instead of micro-managing remote hours, concentrate on the quality and impact of the work being produced. Allow employees the freedom to choose when and where they work best. Trust that they will deliver results.

In a results-oriented approach, employees are empowered to take ownership of their work. This autonomy not only enhances job satisfaction, but also promotes creativity and innovation. Break free from outdated metrics and employees will be motivated by the desire to achieve meaningful outcomes.

And when looking at metrics, look at your team’s retention rate. That will give you an idea on whether your team are happy or not. That will give you a sense of whether they have the incentive to be productive.

Breaking Free from Traditional Terms

The companies that succeed at hybrid work are those that fully embrace flexibility. The term ‘hybrid’ suggests that there is mandated office time. Brian prefers to think of companies working flexibly.

The terms “hybrid”, “productivity”, and “remote” are laden with preconceived notions. These may hinder the true potential of flexible work. It’s time for HR managers to embrace a more dynamic and inclusive vocab.

Rather than focusing on hybrid work policies, consider adopting a “flexible work culture.” This shift emphasizes adaptability and responsiveness to personal needs. Avoid fixating on productivity. Prioritize impactful outcomes and highlight the tangible contributions that make a difference.

Embracing Change: A Call to Action for HR Managers

HR managers must lead the charge in redefining how we perceive and approach work in the modern era. The challenges presented by hybrid work are opportunities. Innovate and create a workplace that thrives in the face of change.

The roadmap includes:

  1. Designing for Distributed Teams: Tailoring workplaces to the needs of distributed teams. Avoid enforcing top-down mandates.
  2. Prioritizing Focus Time: Investing in more asynchronous ways of working. Give employees the focus time needed for exceptional performance.
  3. Leadership Focused on Outcomes: Build leaders who prioritize outcomes over managing like hall monitors. Foster a culture of achievement.
  4. Investing in Tools and Training: Provide the necessary digital tools and training to support successful remote work. Reimagine workspaces as hubs for connection and teamwork.

HR managers can pave the way for a future where work is not confined by the traditional constraints of productivity. Prioritize outcomes over metrics. Cultivate a culture of trust and flexibility. Inspire genuine connections in the office. Redefine your terms to reflect our new reality.

Success is not measured in hours spent in the office or the number of Zoom meetings attended. It’s about the impact we make, the connections we foster, and the resilient cultures we build. Take the lead and champion a shift that empowers your teams to thrive in the evolving landscape of work.

Brian Elliott, one of Forbes’ “Future of Work 50,” is a speaker and leadership advisor. He combines 25 years of leadership experience as a startup CEO and executive at Google and Slack, while leading Future Forum, a think tank focused on the future of work.

He’s the bestselling author of How the Future Works: Leading Flexible Teams To Do the Best Work of Their Lives, a LinkedIn Top Voice, has been published in Harvard Business Review. Brian is also the proud dad of two young men and one middle-aged dog.

How flexibility makes for better productivity

At Kadence we believe that flexibility is key to helping teams be the most productive in their work, yet the word ‘productivity’ means something different to everyone, as everyone has different needs. What helps one person be productive might not be helpful to others. In a nutshell ‘managers are more likely to define productivity as outcomes, and individual contributors are more likely to define productivity as output’ (storey et al. 2021) highlighted in Microsoft’s ‘New Future of Work Report’. Understanding what makes individuals productive is one thing, but adding a curve ball to the mix brings flexibility and how this is increasingly becoming an all-round conduit for productivity. Read on to discover how flexibility is a big deal for getting things done.


Choosing how we best work together

Individual choice is fairly straightforward, however, once put into the context of a team, it creates a cocktail of scheduling and preference confusion. At Kadence, we believe people need tools that makes scheduling to connect with one another, either face-to-face or digitally the easiest thing in the world. Tools that empower them to become masters of flexible working, putting people in the driving seat to make the best decisions for themselves and each other.

Yes, trust and autonomy are important factors here, and ones not to ignore, but more vital to this concoction is understanding the needs of your employees, and what to provide for them. 

Choosing how we best work is always going to be uniquely different from one another, and being stubborn with what you as the individual feel is the best solution isn’t helpful. The trick here is to search for what works collectively, which also applies to the tools your teams use every day. 

For example, we discovered Kadence customers prefer to reserve meeting rooms through the calendar integrations with Google, and Outlook. For them, it makes sense to make bookings within the tools they already use. Surveys have shown that up to 56% of workers find switching between different apps keeps them from being productive,  and over 67% of people would like to have all of their tools within a single window. You see, it’s not just in the choosing of when, where, and with whom we prefer to work, but also in the choosing of how, and the best tools that serve those needs. With that in mind, it just made sense for us to provide the functionality to make that possible.

Room booking

Finding a rhythm that matches your intent

The pandemic reinforced the need for change, and with it came the swift dismantling of scheduling as the global workforce entertained a new, and better way of working. Although the vast majority welcomed the new change,  it became chaotic fairly fast. A tool was needed to help align fragmented schedules in order that important employee collaboration and in-person social interactions could happen. A tool that could both give your people the flexibility they needed yet meet the needs of the team all at once. Extreme individual scheduling will only cause peoples’ preferences and timetables to collide, whereas understanding your goals when you are together helping produce scheduling alignment that everyone buys into. It starts with a common goal.

Once a common goal has been decided, the next thing is to decide when as well as where you’ll meet as a team, and even how often. At Kadence, we call this ‘finding your rhythm for work’. We’ve discovered that regular touch points between team members digitally or in person are vital for productivity, belonging, and mental well-being. Discover more here about how Kadence’s personal and team schedule visibility tools help teams to remain in sync.


Harness spontaneity

Light bulb moments are crucial and are the moments we need to harness, gather the troops and get set to work on the practical out-workings that strum ideas into realities. With over 90% of bookings being created at the last moment, it’s clear that there is a need for accessible spaces in the moments when people need them. Unfortunately, this isn’t helpful for many facilities managers who’d prefer people to book ahead of time, but hey, why not embrace the spontaneity and those light bulb moments too? Enabling your people to connect in these moments using easy tools to know when everyone is available and help find the right spaces fast is a very practical solution. Microsoft writes in their New Future of Work Report that ‘Successful teams align work routines to communicate in bursts, interspersed with individual work’. 

Hybrid working

Making a plan in advance is just as advantageous to getting into the spaces you need and connecting with your colleagues, but the tool that shares team schedule and space availability in those all-important lightbulb moments are the tools that truly serve people.

“ 70% of employees stated that Kadene had helped them save time searching for a desk!” – PHSO


A one-size-fits-all tool to help companies be successful at hybrid simply does not work if you’re wanting to future-proof your company’s working culture. Hybrid looks different for everyone and a tool that molds around the needs of individuals just as well as the needs of the company, enabling them to make hybrid work in the way it works for them is the tool that will win. Planning ahead is powerful, and so is being flexible when plans change, and the right tool is the one that does both well. 

What makes your teams more productive?