Hybrid Competence – professional zeitgeist or professional Whac-a-Mole?

Carton man with his right side in a suit holding a briefcase, his left side in shorts and t-shirt holding a laptop.

Have you developed clean edges and protected your boundaries?

Last month, we considered hybrid working and its now permanent position in the workplace resourcing model. You can read the article here

This month, we observe the phrase-du-jour being coined by talent acquisition experts: ‘Hybrid Competence’.  In short, if you’ve successfully managed to navigate moving between multiple Zoom/Teams calls and Slack channels alongside remotely conducting deep work and delivering projects to deadlines, all while ‘homing from work’ you can officially add Hybrid Competence to your catalogue of skill sets. If you’ve also managed to maintain high quality, productive relationships with colleagues when visiting the office, then you are virtually super-human (tricky one to get on the resumé but worth a try). Experts suggest that we should highlight Hybrid Competencies when positioning ourselves for promotion or applying for a new job as it demonstrates our ability to think flexibly and multitask.  

In reality however, many of us struggle to be hybrid competent. Circumstances have required us to adapt and to accept nano-transitions and fuzzy parameters as part of everyday professional life. This is difficult for many of us as it starts to eat into our mental and emotional reserves. Staying in first gear often leads to a much shorter engine life. Where’s our line between work and home? What time do we declare as ‘too late’ to answer a quick message? 

There will always be examples of needing or wanting to go full tilt, maximum commitment; but that may not need to be every day. A good leader recognises our technical abilities but it’s our character that helps them to trust us to do a great job. Developing clean edges and protecting our boundaries will help us to strengthen that line between work and home (and we argue that you will become more productive too). Schedule in time to be creative between calls, set a deadline to silence notifications and avoid checking messages, don’t leave your tech where you’ll be tempted to pick it up again.  Crucially, give your brain a chance to head to the garage for an oil change. 

The much discussed 4-day working week trial began this month and, undoubtedly, clean edges and protected boundaries will be a key part of the research. Will employees find themselves pulled back in on the fifth day because ‘I happened to see the message on my phone’? Will the tyranny of presenteeism push them to ‘work late today because I’m only working 4 days now’?  

We’ve all learnt to be hybrid competent but how many of us do it well?  At ICC, we call multi-tasking ‘doing a lot of things quite badly’. We find that jumping from one mode to another leads us quickly to a heightened level of stress response by being hyper-aware. We pride ourselves on being agile and adept but we hold ourselves to account if it’s not done intentionally – being busy fools is not a good colour on us! 

Tell us how you rate your hybrid competence here or in the comments below.

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