Hybrid Is Not a Place

Posted December 2nd, 2021 by Urban Legal Recruitment

It’s almost hard to remember a time when the term ‘hybrid workplace’ didn’t exist. Over the past 20 months, companies have been busy redefining the logistics of where people work and referring to it as the hybrid workplace. Will people be returning to the office? What physical safety protocols will need to continue?  Will we need as much office space? Are offices even necessary? 

What we are now beginning to understand is that the massive workplace shift is not really about ‘place’ but rather about culture. While organizations are diligently surveying employees about how many days they want to come into the workplace, the true shift is that they are asking. Employees are being empowered to decide where and when they do their best work. 

“We like to give people the freedom to work where they want, safe in the knowledge that they have the drive and expertise to perform excellently, whether they’re at their desk or in their kitchen. Yours truly has never worked out of an office, and never will.” Sir Richard Branson, Virgin America

Work is not a place

It used to be that once you walked through your workplace doors, you were, for all intents and purposes, company property. What time you came in, how long you were at lunch, how much time you spent ‘socializing’ and with whom, were all visible and scrutinized. So what happens when you don’t walk through those doors anymore? 

“The majority of our clients are considering a permanent hybrid model in the new year, although several have gone completely remote,” notes Stacy Cowan, founder of Urban Legal Recruitment. “ The idea that employees can't be productive unless they are in the office seems to be a fairly archaic model of thinking and operating a business. Technology has allowed us to evolve and a hybrid model is just more progressive.”

Elements of a successful hybrid workplace culture

It is highly unlikely that the workplace will go back to ‘normal’ after the pandemic. Organizations will need to continue evolving their workplace cultures to reflect the needs of their employees and clients, and to consider the following elements. 


In Daniel Pink’s book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, autonomy is one of the three elements that determine a highly motivated workforce (the other two are purpose and mastery) and successful business outcomes. 

As a result of working independently through the pandemic, workers will now expect the same level of autonomy going forward.


The current and post-pandemic workplace requires a fundamental reimagining of leadership. It begins with a thorough assessment of your leadership style and commitment to aligning it to the needs of your employees. 

Leaders need to see the individual as a whole whose experiences go beyond work. They need to ensure holistic and inclusive policies and create psychologically safe spaces for employees. 


For years we’ve been talking about creating workplace cultures that put the needs of their employees first.  Forward-thinking organizations usually credit their business success to creating an employee-centred culture.

The saying, culture eats strategy for breakfast, attributed to business management guru Peter Drucker,  has never been truer. Company cultures typically change slowly and incrementally, but the pandemic has significantly sped up the pace.


Technology has enabled us to separate work from time and location but the accelerated pace of digital transformation in response to COVID-19 has put tremendous pressure on IT departments. According to a new McKinsey Global Survey of executives, their companies have accelerated digitization by three to four years.

Change Management 

The delta between how we used to do our work, and how we do it now, is vast for many organizations. From revising processes, HR practices, managing and technology, there has never been more change in the workplace. A robust change management plan supported by strategic internal communication will increase the likelihood of successful evolution.

Meaning and purpose

Meaning is a highly individual thing but is usually related to fulfilling one's potential doing something that they think matters. Help employees understand how the work they do matters. 

According to McKinsey, “People who live their purpose at work are more productive than people who don’t. They are also healthier, more resilient, and more likely to stay at the company.” 

Stacy believes the foundation of purposeful work comes through being engaged in a healthy and collegial environment where there is mutual trust and respect at all levels.  “This is fundamental for any employee and organization to thrive - hybrid model or not.”

Life. Career. Opportunity Awaits. If you have any questions, are considering a change, or just want to chat, we would love to hear from you. 

At Urban Legal Recruitment, we have experienced, along with our clients, the impacts of COVID-19.  We’ve made the necessary adjustments to ensure the safety of our team members and our clients.