As offices reopen, many executives are grappling with what their future remote or hybrid work policy will be. Some companies have laid down the law from the top, while others have adopted a more bottoms-up approach--giving significant authority to individual managers to decide their individual team's policy.
While there is no one-size-fits-all model and no playbook for deciding which remote or hybrid model is right for your company, neither a top-down or bottom-up approach is the optimal one. The most successful leaders and companies will iterate between top-down and bottom-up approaches until they meaningfully converge.
In practice, how does this work? As a leader, one way to get that convergence is to embrace the "pyramid of clarity." We use this at my own workplace to get everyone aligned on what we're doing. The five-level pyramid of clarity helps everyone in your company connect the dots from their day-to-day work to your company's mission:
Level 1 (the top level) is your company's mission. This is your company's purpose--the "why?" behind the work that you do.
Level 2 is your company's strategy. This is the "how"--how will you achieve your mission?
Level 3 is objectives. These are more tactical goals that will help you accomplish your strategy and, in turn, your mission.
Level 4 is key results. These are the measurements against your objectives that assess your performance.
Level 5 (the bottom level) is projects. These are the initiatives that will be measured and contribute to your objectives.
The pyramid of clarity is especially valuable when you apply it to your remote or hybrid work policy. Over the past few months, I've watched leadership teams completely shift their mindset as they think--and act--in terms of the pyramid of clarity. When I advise companies on their hybrid or remote policies, these are some of the questions I recommend they ask at each level:
Level 1 (Mission): How does my company's remote or hybrid work policy impact our company's mission?
Level 2 (Strategy): What is my remote or hybrid work strategy? What specific model will we adopt? How will we course-correct if necessary? How will we redesign our teams to maximize success?
Level 3 (Objectives): What problems are we trying to solve in implementing our policy? What opportunities are we aiming to grasp?
Level 4 (Key results): How will we measure success? This shouldn't just include work-based objectives--it should also include metrics such as team collaboration and psychological safety.
Level 5 (Projects): What training will managers need? What about employees? How will we onboard hybrid or remote employees? How will our technology stack change to empower distributed work?
As you design and implement your remote or hybrid work policy, I recommend that you embrace the pyramid of clarity as your compass. When everything--and everyone--is connected to the raison d'être of your business, you'll build more durable policies that help empower everyone for success.
To get everyone aligned on the purpose of your remote or hybrid policy, your employees--especially individual contributors--need to understand how every initiative related to remote or hybrid work--from onboarding to manager training to technology selection--connects to your company's mission.
By leveraging the pyramid of clarity, you can lay the foundation and supporting structure for an effective remote or hybrid work policy. If your policy isn't based on the pyramid of clarity or a similar foundation that emphasizes bottoms-up and top-down convergence, it is likely to collapse--in principle and in practice--at the first inevitable obstacle.