The Hybrid PM Playbook

Hey there! You’re reading the Introduction to The Hybrid Product Management Playbook. Check out the rest of the playbook right here:

The Hybrid PM Playbook: Introduction
The Hybrid PM Playbook: Thoughts for People
The Hybrid PM Playbook: Tips for Leaders

The Hybrid PM Playbook: Insights for Tomorrow

We could recap how the world was turned upside down in 2020, but aren’t you sick of hearing about that by now? It’s time to look to the future, and for many product companies that means turning from remote to hybrid.

Office spaces are starting to open up again, with some teams and organizations slowly and cautiously trickling back into office life. For Product Managers, it presents both an exciting opportunity to get back to building in-person relationships with their teams and a new set of questions to answer.

Answering those questions is exactly what The Hybrid PM Playbook is here to help you with. In 4 handy chapters, we’ll be going over everything you need to know about hybrid Product Management, how to make it work for everyone involved, and what the best choice is for you and your company.

What is hybrid?

In case you’ve missed all of the chatter, hybrid is a flexible way of working that involves working from home (WFH) and working from an office. It’s important to note that many companies were already starting to work with a hybrid model even before 2020, as remote working tools grew in popularity and employees started to expect more flexibility from their mostly digital roles.

There are a few different models that, for ease, we’ll put under the hybrid umbrella.

  1. Hybrid: Employees are expected to WFH part of the time and in the office part of time.
  2. Optional: Fully flexible, employees can come and go between home and the office as they please and set their own schedules.
  3. Partial: Only certain teams/individuals have the option to WFH, depending on the nature of their role or personal situation.

Where does the tech industry stand on remote/hybrid?

When remote work became the norm, nobody talked about why it was better or worse than the office, because we didn’t have much of a choice in the matter. But now that companies have options and choices to make, the whole tech industry is aflutter with opinions.

Many companies, like Shopify, Pinterest, Coinbase, and Dropbox are sticking to their guns and continuing with a remote-first model, with no physical location at all.

You might also be interested in: Building Products Remotely: 12 Companies That Make it Happen

However, some pretty big names in the industry are now making the switch to a hybrid model. For example, Google was among the first of big tech to announce that it would continue to let its employees work remotely until mid-2021. In an interview, CEO Sundar Pichai stated

“We firmly believe that in-person, being together, having a sense of community is super important when you have to solve hard problems and create something new so we don’t see that changing. But we do think we need to create more flexibility and more hybrid models.”

Sundar Pichai, Alphabet CEO

Having one of the most influential tech companies in the world be at the forefront of hybrid work gave other companies permission to start exploring new possibilities. Deciding on the best way forward for the “new normal” became a hot topic for debate.

Some companies, like Spotify, who offered some form of hybrid work before 2020 are moving from remote back to their original way of working. “Our employees will be able to work full time from home, from the office, or a combination of the two. The exact mix of home and office work mode is a decision each employee and their manager make together.”

This ‘Work From Anywhere’ scheme has been copied across other companies from startups to tech giants. LinkedIn recently announced that it would be removing any  “in-office expectation.”

Why are tech/product companies choosing hybrid over remote?

We all remember the great 2020 shift to remote. New tools and processes were built to make it easier, we learned how best to work in distributed teams, and many of us got excited about the new age of remote work. In our personal lives, we found ways to make the change work in our favor, giving us more flexibility and time to spend with family. Most were all too happy to wave goodbye to long commutes and expensive “didn’t bring my own lunch” days.

For something that seemed to be working so well, with many declaring that this was the new age of remote work…why choose to disrupt again with hybrid?

There are several reasons why companies prefer to have their employees come together in a physical location and, presenteeism aside, they’re very valid points. Sometimes it’s for security reasons, or because special equipment is needed. In the product industry, it’s mostly about relationships and collaboration.

What are the pros and cons?

Just like remote working wasn’t a perfect fit for every employee/company/industry, hybrid work also has its pros and cons. Companies deciding whether or not to make the switch need to consider hybrid’s impact on…

  • Office politics and inequity
  • Employee satisfaction
  • Budget and resources
  • Diversity
  • Productivity
  • Collaboration

We’ll be diving into each of these in-depth throughout the Playbook, and giving you all of the know-how and advice you need to make hybrid work for you and your company.

What are Product Managers saying?

The general consensus from our community of Product Managers, is that there’s a certain je ne sais quoi to collaborating with teams in person rather than over Zoom.

We asked our global community of Product Managers what they thought about hybrid work.

I don't think [remote tools] of the future can trump collaboration and relationship building in the physical world. But they are a good start to seriously manifest a culture which normalizes remote work in the long run...say 10 years down the line. The benefits of remote work will outweigh the challenges, and would create a thriving tech world full of creativity and collaboration at a global scale like never before.
Depending on the sector you are working, it changes I guess. For instance we are both a tech and an operational company. So I cannot say it is here to stay for us as we need to be on field even as Product Managers ourselves.
[Hybrid work] is for sure here to stay. It's a valid form of work now, so cultural norms will evolve to support it.

While there are varying opinions on whether the future of work is hybrid or not, as every Product Manager is different, it’s clear that everyone who adopts this new way of working has a lot of figuring out to do!

Coming Up in Chapter 1…

In the first chapter of the Hybrid PM Playbook, we’ll be diving into everything that Product Managers of all levels need to know about this new way of working.

We’ll be bringing you tips on how to make the change seamlessly, and how to effectively collaborate with teams who choose to stay at home versus those who come to the office. You’ll find out how to maintain your flexibility and how to avoid upending your work/life balance.

For leaders, we’ll be sharing tips on how to help your team make the change and how to make sure everyone is kept in the loop regardless of where they choose to work.

And finally, we’ll be talking about how to hire talented product teams to a hybrid company, and we’ll have a look at the potential to recruit diverse talent.

Read the next chapter…The Hybrid PM Playbook: Thoughts for People

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