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How to go “Beyond Hybrid Working” for transformative change

I’m delighted to say the manuscript of my new book, Beyond Hybrid Working, is now in the hands of the publisher (Routledge), wites Andy Lake.

It started out as a new edition of my previous book, Smart Flexibility. In the end, it has been almost entirely rewritten for the post-pandemic world.

It’s been a fascinating time to do this, involving researching and writing about a world in accelerated transition. Plus, of course, there have been some high-profile attempts to slam on the brakes, or even do handbrake turns!

My approach is to embrace nuance and the plural/multispeed nature of change, and to get away from the simplistic ‘home v office’ types of debate. The changes we’re seeing are both more complicated and much more interesting than that!

So the book advocates an integrated and strategic approach, targeting specific and measured benefits. It brings together a lot of research, and indeed insights from many current experts across the different disciplines. Plus there’s a batch of new case studies across sectors. There’s quite a focus on the needs of hands-on and site-specific work too.

What’s in the book?

The picture above provides an advanced look at the cover and contents.

After setting the context and the range of drivers, the core of the book takes an in-depth look at the key functions of People, Workplace and Technology that need to be coordinated to drive the change.

Throughout, I challenge several of the practices commonly used to determine how ‘hybrid working’ is implemented. These include having set days in the office, the use of personas, desk booking and more. Alternative approaches are set out, involving more sophisticated and granular techniques that involve everyone in rethinking the activities they do and how smarter working can facilitate both improvements to the work and the work experience for employees.

A key concept in the book is the ‘Extended Workplace’. We need to think more broadly than working from home or working in an office. So that involves rethinking how people work across 5 domains. Four physical domains – organisational premises, third-party premises, public spaces and the personal domain – are held together by the fifth, the Virtual Workplace. Each of these are explored in detail, covering the variety of possible settings and how best to utilise them.

Within this framework, there’s also exploration of non-office work and the changes taking place, including how these impact on third-party spaces and home-based environments for hands-on work.

There are chapters which address much-debated questions around whether flexibility in working practices is more or less productive than working in a collective work environment, and similarly whether it is more or less sustainable. New approaches to research are also suggested in these chapters.

Throughout the book, there’s also a strong focus on wellbeing, and this is all pulled together in a chapter looking specifically at how Smart Working can promote wellbeing, and the overlapping responsibilites of both employers and individuals for this.

And there’s a special chapter on the impacts of Smart Working in government, an area where I have been closely involved over the years. This not only looks at working practices, but also picks up on how services are delivered, and what kind of changes in public policy are needed to maximise the potential benefits from the new world of work.

At various points the crystal ball comes out to look at changes coming over the horizon that are impacting the future of work – or soon will be. These include technological changes with AI, robotics, Industry 4.0 and the (so-called) metaverse, as well as future directions in workplace thinking.

Beyond Hybrid Working will be out towards the end of 2023. If you would like top be kept posted about it, drop me a note via the contact page or sign up to the Flexibility newsletter (at bottom of the home page).