CEOs Share Their Biggest Challenge with Hybrid Work

By Kevin Claus

We recently brought together ten CEOs from various industries and vastly different organizations for a dinner. There was one subject of conversation that came up time and again throughout the evening: the new era of hybrid work. And more specifically, how to keep their leadership teams engaged and excited when the playing field has so drastically changed due to hybrid working. 

One thing is for sure—although many CEOs might try to resist the trend, hybrid work isn’t going away. A recent Gallup study showed that 59% of remote-capable workers are currently hybrid and “nine in 10 remote-capable employees prefer some degree of remote-work flexibility going forward”. So, it’s clear that CEOs who want to see elite-level performance from their teams are in a position of rethinking their employee engagement strategy to fit into the hybrid model. 

We Gathered 10 CEOs Around a Table to Discuss Hybrid Work Challenges and This is What They Talked About Most

Dinner Table Setting.

We asked some of our coaches to share one tool they could give CEOs to help them keep their leadership teams engaged and dedicated within the hybrid workspace. Here’s what they had to say about hybrid work and the challenges faced: 

Kevin Claus, Senior Executive Coach Discusses Hybrid Work

“In a hybrid work environment, CEOs can drive engagement with their senior leaders through intentional communication and connection. One of the most critical things to focus on is deliberate and powerful 1:1 connections. A 1:1 template that can be filled out beforehand, like the one you can download here, is a great tool to focus these conversations on the most critical topics, where leaders will need your insight and assistance. In these ongoing conversations, be sure to align on important projects, set clear expectations about what you need, and discuss how you can help remove obstacles for them.  

Finally, don’t underestimate the importance of personal connection with each of your leaders. Well-being in the workplace has never been more important for employees. Leverage this time as an opportunity to check in with each leader on a personal level, building trust and driving deeper connection and alignment.” 

Jaci Reed, Senior Executive Coach Discusses Hybrid Employees & Company Culture 

“Engagement is heavily influenced by culture, which is essentially the result of a group of mindsets and behaviors reinforced by the environment (systems, processes, rewards). People should feel like they are part of the workplaceis environment whether they’re at the office or working remotely. You can achieve this by managing expectations for working hours throughout the organization. Begin by setting hours/days of the week for internal communications, breaks, and lunches. Try mandating no-meeting Fridays, moving to a four-day workweek, or allocating wellness days on top of PTO. 

Most importantly, ensure DEI best practices are embedded into every part of the employee lifecycle and use a merit-based system for promotions and rewards that is not contingent on working location. This will result in an atmosphere of fairness and balance for all, affecting engagement for the entire organization, including your leaders.” 

Craig Wiley, CEO Discusses Team Challenges with the Hybrid Model

“In order to keep their leadership teams engaged within a hybrid work environment, CEOs need to create a new cadence of leadership connections that will fuel real-time business needs, as well as regular trimester connections for the whole team to deep dive into the strategy and performance of the business. The trimester meetings serve as an opportunity for emotional connection within the team and to spark new conversations around innovation and performance.  

Leaders need connection and these two meeting cadences act as a forced choice to pull up from the details of the business and reignite passion for their work. With this clarity, they will find an increased ability to inspire their teams and be a better teammate to their executive peers. The key is understanding what these high-value cadences entail and executing them successfully to make them sustainable and scalable.”

As CEOs are navigating how to adjust their workplace systems and processes to fit into a hybrid model, it’s clear that connection is the most important way they can ensure their executive leaders, and employees in general, will remain engaged and renewed in the business. It may require a little more planning and thought, but by tightening up 1:1 connections, cultivating an inviting and fair culture (even from afar), and creating intentional meeting cadences, CEOs can unlock fresh inspiration in their teams that will spread throughout the entire organization and overcome hybrid work challenges. 

For more on this topic, read Craig’s article entitled, “Three Proven Strategies For Creating A Transformational Modern Leadership Culture” in Forbes. 

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Kevin Claus

Senior Executive Coach

As a senior executive coach and leadership development expert, I have more than 30 years of experience in leadership development, talent engagement, and executive coaching in fast-paced, high-growth global corporate environments.

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