Who Should Own Hybrid at Your Company? The Pros and Cons of Each
Earlier this week, we ran a LinkedIn poll. The question was simple: who is running hybrid in your company?
Results started pouring in: CEO, Facility Manager, Head of People, IT department — they were all in the mix. Yet not one of them was poking their head out as a clear winner.
This alone is a compelling insight. As strong as the momentum currently is towards hybrid ways of working, it seems there’s still a collective uncertainty around who exactly is meant to own the process of implementing and overseeing the ins and outs of hybrid work.
Let’s look at who the candidates are — and why they are in prime position to take on the challenge of helping their company transition to hybrid.
The CEO is our first candidate – and perhaps the most obvious.
Hybrid work presents a fundamental alteration of how a company sees itself, its people and its space — and such a profound change needs to be met at the top executive level.
Furthermore, the transition to hybrid has implications for so much of a company’s operational framework — from its use and management of real estate to its work culture and operating software — that it requires someone with an extensive knowledge base and skillset to properly oversee it.
The CEO is the person ultimately responsible for the success or failure of a business, and you could argue that it is therefore their job to oversee the implementation of hybrid work.
- Great to have top level ownership of a core business strategy
- Wide skillset and knowledge to manage all facets of implementation
- Risks getting bogged down in the day-to-day
- Less “people focused” and more “business focused”
Next up is the COO. The person whose job it is to oversee the day-to-day operations of the organization — and someone who could be instrumental in the successful implementation of hybrid work.
The transition to hybrid work represents a complete shift in an organization’s management of its resources — chief of which are its people and spaces.
The office has become a tool for work, rather than a platform, and the main platform has now become time.
Negotiating this conceptual shift is something that the COO would be more than capable of handling. With their strong communication skills, connection to all department heads and intimate knowledge of large and smaller scale work processes, the COO would be a top candidate for helping implement the right tool for hybrid work, and overseeing its effective use.
- Deeply aligned with the day-to-day operations of the company
- Can ensure that processes and systems are in place to support remote work and in-person collaboration
- May not have a comprehensive understanding of the needs of individuals, or technical challenges
- May not have the skillset to manage all facets of implementation
The CTO/Tech Lead
I know what you’re thinking. What does technology have to do with such an operational question?
Hear us out. Hybrid work doesn’t just represent a change in a workplace’s physical routines and rituals. The proper implementation of hybrid work involves installing software that assists you on every step of your hybrid journey — from desk booking and room booking to smart scheduling and team coordination.
Such an installation could be daunting — especially if handled by the wrong person.
That’s where the CTO comes in. With their technical expertise, the tech lead of a company could ensure that their chosen hybrid software works seamlessly alongside the rest of a company’s technical catalogue — whether it be integrating with Microsoft teams, Slack or any number of digital tools.
- Best placed to manage hybrid software and integrations
- Detached from the operational / people-focused reality of hybrid work
- Distracts from product-related technical issues
The Facility Manager
Another figure who could be crucial to a company’s hybrid transition is the Facility / Office Manager.
The Facility Manager is the person responsible for ensuring an organization’s physical spaces are configured to support the workforce.
In the era of hybrid work, this responsibility is particularly important. With a workforce fluctuating between remote and in-person work, the office has developed a whole new identity: a flexible, malleable hub that caters to the complex schedules of its residents.
Such an office needs to be carefully designed, and even more carefully managed. It should feel like a destination workplace, with biophilic design and carefully placed office neighborhoods. It should also be set up to prioritize energy conservation — with thoughtful consideration for low-use zones and a plan to raise the office’s overall energy efficiency.
The Facility Manager is perfectly placed to mark out the office as a place for productivity and fulfilment in a company’s new hybrid work model.
- Familiar with the physical workspace and can ensure it is configured to support fluctuating workforce
- Not so in tune with higher level functions of hybrid work — from a financial/operational perspective
- Wouldn’t be best placed to manage hybrid work software and its introduction
The Head of People
Call this person what you will — Head of HR, Chief People Officer, Chief of Staff — they are another clear candidate for managing and owning the transition to hybrid.
Hybrid work is fundamentally about people (just read the manifesto!). It’s about ensuring that each individual in the company feels supported in their own unique way — so that they can flourish in whatever working environment suits them best.
Enter HR. With such a strong connection to people — and their satisfaction in work and beyond — it feels like a no brainer that they should somehow be involved when it comes to overseeing a change that affects every single person in the company.
HR representatives could ensure employees are set up to be just as effective from their homes, oversee the complexities of their working requirements, and provide adequate onboarding and training to employees who are less familiar with the processes of hybrid work.
- Deeply aligned with the needs of employees
- Can provide much-needed training and support
- Less focused on the management of the physical workspace
- Not a stakeholder in financial implications of hybrid, or technical requirements for software
The Chief Hybrid Officer
The Chief Hybrid Officer is a new role that companies are turning to in their attempt to give justice to the complex challenge presented by the transition to hybrid.
As you’ve hopefully now seen — the person tasked with implementing hybrid work needs to have an exceptional skillset, ranging from solid business acumen and operational nous to the ability to manage a physical workspace and digital software.
Such a wide-ranging assignment could well be handled by an existing employee — but it would seriously risk distracting them from their core work. Furthermore, it could mean under-delivering on the potential of a well-implemented hybrid system.
The Chief Hybrid Officer would own this process from start to finish. Their goal would be to maximize the impact of the hybrid work model, from championing employee well-being and satisfaction to cutting down real estate costs and helping a company’s ESG mission.
- Holistic approach to the hybrid transition
- Full ownership of all relevant areas, including impl
- Difficult to hire for the position
- Smaller companies may struggle to justify the role
The responsibility for implementing and managing hybrid work in an organization can fall to a variety of roles — from the CTO to the Chief of Staff.
Yet there’s no right answer. Every organization is different, and every team has its own specific circumstances and requirements for transitioning to a new way of working.
When deciding upon whom the responsibility falls to implement hybrid work, we recommend assessing your company on several different fronts:
- Your company’s size and capacity for a new executive role
- The relative financial impact hybrid work could have on you
- The importance of environmental impact and optimization to your company
- The day-to-day capacity of C-level executives for a sizeable new project
Our mission at Kadence is to help companies navigate this complex world. Whether it’s giving advice on the proper way to educate your employees about hybrid work, or helping implement software that will act as your guiding light in the transition — we’d love to be part of your journey.