The new reality of white-collar, software-driven, knowledge work is supposed to be a “hybrid model.” In general, that means some people will come into an office on some days, and another group will come in on other days. Think of it in color terms: there might be a red team that comes into the office on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Then there’s a blue team that comes on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Finally, there is a green team that is remote/work-from-home all five days Monday-Friday. There might even be a fourth team that comes into the office every day, so it becomes “fully in-office” (one team), “fully remote” (second team), and two teams that mix up different days. That’s the general model/approach.
There are lots of pros and cons to this model, for sure. One of the big questions people already have is … if someone goes into the office more, and senior leaders are there and are seeing that person, will he/she get promoted, advanced and get more opportunities over people who only come to the office 1-2 days or are fully remote? Is that a form of bias?
We don’t have every answer about the hybrid model yet. Because a lot about our approach to working has changed in the past 15 months, there are still many questions lingering out there. We just don’t know certain things and how they will evolve in different organizations.
Luckily for Serengeti, we already used a similar model to this -- when we began our work with clients, we were mostly onsite getting to know their culture, management approaches, projects, products, programming languages, and app development. During COVID, some of the onboarding (most of it, actually) took place virtually. Now there is a bit of return to true onsites, but it is only beginning to happen.
After that onsite period, though, we usually transitioned offsite and worked with the client remotely -- they were at HQ and we were at our offices and homes, working on projects and product launches with them. So we were already “hybrid” in many ways, because we had a mix of developers onsite with clients, at their own homes, or at our offices. Not much changes for us about this hybrid model approach, which is a nice strategic advantage for us.
There are concerns around the word “culture” in a hybrid sense -- as in, if a team isn’t together on every working day, can a culture be built or maintained? It absolutely can. We’ve become part of the culture at some of our clients, even though our developers don’t sit with the client developers and technical leads every day. You build culture through conversation, through late nights, through doing good work, through hitting deadlines, through teaching each other things, etc. It doesn’t require you to sit next to someone to build culture. In fact, a lot of people who sit next to each other actually don’t work that well together. Some even resent each other.
Work is changing, for sure, and there are lots of concerns about safety in offices and team productivity in this mixed, hybrid model of working. It’s important to look for vendors and partners who have already worked this way, so there’s less of a learning curve.
If you’d like to learn other factors to look for in an outsourced software development team, download the guide below.