“Hello, hybrid development. How does one start ...”

Article 01 March 2023

‘Hybrid’ is probably now on par with ‘pivot’ in terms of phrases that took on new meaning in Covid (in a simpler time ‘pivot’ recalled that iconic couch moving episode and ‘hybrid’ referred to designer dog-breeds).  Now we pivot and hybrid in the workplace like never before. So, while we all use and are a part of the hybrid world, the open question remains, are we any good at it? And how do you deliver and become good at bringing a hybrid world to your employees with value, inclusion and effectiveness?

When Covid hit, our collective hands were forced and the move to remote had to take place overnight. Three years on, it’s time to reflect and refine our now hybrid practices to ensure we understand how to use and operate in a hybrid environment, and that our hybrid practices are truly fit for purpose. At Sheppard Moscow, hybrid has become integral to our delivery from complex blended learning multi-module learning programmes and development journeys, to targeted team workshops. Partnering with clients in these modes of delivery, we know first-hand that the business world continues to struggle with orchestrating effective hybrid anything.

And while, as a business, we have become knowledgeable, successful and adept at delivering our work and interventions in hybrid formats, we can attest, the struggle is real!

In fact, in either a fit of fever or logical madness we have embarked on an ambitious journey to bring our learning to clients via a complex hybrid event. We will provide a hybrid experience to our attendees whilst exploring the merits and pitfalls of this substantively still new approach to delivering global leadership, team and culture development.

A true hybrid event, this ‘meeting’ will involve Sheppard Moscow consultants being joined in-person by clients in host cities (Dublin, London, and elsewhere) whilst also being joined virtually by other clients from multiple locations around the world via technological magic.

We are not unique in being daunted by the realities of hybrid, especially in the context of wanting to bring to our clients a deep and profound learning experience, enabled by teaming, psychological safety and technology. And so as dedicated learning facilitators, we wanted to share our own thought process and journey to designing and delivering this meeting.

We started with the format and logistics – how many host cities? Do we host in client sites or in neutral locations and invite clients to join us there? How do we plan around the inevitable drop off that comes with hosting events for busy professionals?

Then there was the topic. It needed to be something that was on our clients’ minds, that was a true pain point for them, that would really help them think differently or gain perspective on a real issue they are grappling with. And time and again, the subject of hybrid – in particular its implications for the employee value proposition – just kept coming up.

Next, who to invite? We settled on L&D, OD, HR and talent specialists. Those who are at the coal face of working out how best to do hybrid in their organisations. A truly complex problem where there is no right way, only experimentation and learning. So, with those things worked out (for now at least!), we’re turning our attention to our core concerns as facilitators: how to a design an engaging session that is inclusive, meaningful and collaborative, whilst grappling with the practical challenges of everyone not being in the same room.

As you can probably tell that one is a work in progress, but drawing on recent client experiences we have some inspiration and handy insights percolating – we’ll be back to share more with you on that soon. Wish us luck!

Sheppard_Moscow_Headshots_027.jpg Aoife Keane
Sheppard_Moscow_Headshots_183.jpg Jennifer Rees