Maximize your Hybrid Team Performance with the NextGen Work Canvas
As hybrid work models continue to gain traction, ensuring seamless collaboration in distributed teams has become crucial.
Enter the NextGen Work Canvas: our innovative solution to streamline hybrid collaboration. Co-developed with the insights of young professionals, this framework is tailored to address common challenges and optimize team workflows, resulting in improved productivity and well-being.
In this guide, you'll discover:
The unique structure of the NextGen Work Canvas
Hands-on strategies to effectively implement it in your team
Solutions to common hurdles like communication gaps, waning engagement, and ambiguous task flows, ensuring your team capitalizes on the hybrid work model's advantages.
While transitioning to hybrid and remote work models is the new norm, many teams grapple with adapting effectively. Our collaboration with next-generation professionals and industry experts from Fujitsu, ISKU, and Howspace led to the creation of the NextGen Work Canvas—a transformative tool to:
Pinpoint and address hybrid work challenges
Innovate and enhance collaboration techniques
Foster a culture of engagement, energy, and overall well-being
Ready to refine and elevate your hybrid work approach? Let us guide you in harnessing the full potential of the NextGen Work Canvas. Reach out now and embark on a journey to unlock unparalleled hybrid team performance.
1 - Overview of The NextGen Work Canvas
The canvas has 4 key sections:
Why? – Explore your purpose and stakeholders
Who? – Understand team members as individuals
How? – Optimize communication, work practices, and tools
Foundation – Prioritize leadership and wellbeing
Each section contains 2-3 elements with guiding questions, pitfalls to avoid, and tips based on learnings from real hybrid teams.
For example, the Communication element covers topics like:
Fostering inclusion between remote and on-site staff
Striking the right balance of online and offline interactions
Building genuine relationships virtually
The canvas equips you to rethink how your team collaborates in the hybrid world.
2 - A Process That Improves your Hybrid Team Work
The NextGen Work Canvas provides a proven framework to evaluate your current hybrid practices and redesign workflows for the better.
Follow these simple steps:
Step 1. Analyze your current practices and pain points
As a team, assess what's currently working and not working across all elements of the canvas.
Step 2. Redesign workflows
Use the guiding questions to generate fresh ideas and new ways to collaborate.
Step 3. Define actions and owners
Determine specific steps, assign owners, and set timelines to implement improvements.
Step 4. Continuously gather feedback and iterate
Keep evolving your workflows based on learnings and feedback.
Don't let ineffective hybrid teamwork persist. Take the first step and access The NextGen Work Canvas to start reimagining how your team can thrive. Enjoy hybrid working!
3 - Detailed Sections of The NextGen Work Canvas
Let's explore what's included in each section of the canvas:
Start designing your hybrid work practices by identifying your internal and/or external stakeholders. Make sure you understand their requirements for working with you, especially in terms of communication, ways of working, and what workspace and tools are required for productive collaboration.
Internal stakeholders (e.g., other teams)
External stakeholders (e.g., suppliers, customers, contract workers)
Stakeholder requirements for communication, ways of working, and workspaces
Questions for inspiration
Do our stakeholders have strong preferences over a way of working with our team?
How advanced are they in their own hybrid setup?
How to align with our stakeholders in terms of communication, ways of working, workspaces, and tools?
How can we help them develop their ways of hybrid working?
How can they help us develop our ways of hybrid working?
Should we stick to only a certain collaborative arrangement with a specific stakeholder?
How can we best improve and coordinate cross-functional team collaboration?
What are the drivers and restrictions that affect our collaboration with others?
Making assumptions about your stakeholders’ requirements
Not talking with your stakeholders about your requirements, preferences, and possibilities regarding how you work
Lack of flexibility to meet different stakeholder requirements
Discuss openly with your stakeholders about the hybrid work expectations
Consult your team when stakeholder requirements change and affect how your team should operate
Think about how you can better understand your stakeholder needs when you may not directly interact with them
Having a shared and inspiring purpose is especially important in hybrid work, as your team members may not frequently meet in person. It helps build cohesion, keep the team connected, and move in the same direction. Make sure your team clearly understands the company's purpose and how your team’s purpose and targets connect with it.
Most importantly, define your hybrid teamwork vision, i.e. what are the positive outcomes you are looking for by working in a hybrid way? You may think about it from the team member and the stakeholders’ perspectives. What benefits does your team’s hybrid working bring to them? Or maybe your teamwork vision is about a positive impact on the environment by decreasing commuting. A clearly defined vision also helps to measure progress and identify needs for improvement.
Hybrid teamwork vision
Questions for inspiration
Is our organizational purpose clear, systematically understood, and inspiring among all team members? How to communicate it consistently to the team members?
How does our team’s purpose relate to our organization’s purpose?
Does our organizational culture support our team’s purpose?
How can we best communicate our team purpose and its relation to our organizational purpose to our stakeholders?
What do we want to achieve through hybrid work and why?
How can learning support our strategic activities in an energizing and engaging way?
What is our team’s inspiring hybrid work vision and what concrete benefits it brings to our team members and stakeholders?
The company or team purpose is not clearly defined, thus not understood by the team members
You do not have an established hybrid teamwork vision, thus making room for misunderstandings, frustrations, and misalignment among team members
Having too strict team targets that do not leave flexibility to achieve them
Ask yourself: “Does the shared purpose align among remote and on-site workers? How should we adjust?”
Have a brief weekly self-report of performance against team targets.
To successfully work in a hybrid way, you may need to re-think how the team is built and how it operates. That is why it is important to first understand the team member’s hybrid work preferences before working on this element.
Your team structure may be fixed, with roles and responsibilities set as permanent. Or it may be dynamic with changing roles and responsibilities, as requirements may change over time. Define the key competencies needed to work in a hybrid setup, and make sure there are clear individual goals for each team member. Most importantly, clarify decision authorities so that everyone knows whom to turn to with questions and when to make the calls by themselves.
Also think about how to ensure learning, especially regarding the tools and new ways of working (e.g. how to facilitate hybrid meetings).
Roles and responsibilities
Learning and unlearning
Questions for inspiration
What type of team structure, roles, and responsibilities (fixed or evolving) do we need to best support our hybrid work?
What (new) competencies do we need together or as individuals?
Which decisions should be made together, about what, why, and when?
How much autonomy (e.g., work hours and place, task prioritization) is given to each team member?
How do we support individual learning and development?
How do we recognize someone's achievement when working in a hybrid way?
What do we need to learn, what for, and how can we do it?
What do we need to unlearn?
Lack of clarity on team member roles and responsibilities - may cause problems in everyday work and in onboarding new team members.
Train everyone on your team to facilitate hybrid, remote and in-person meetings.
Organise hybrid events with two facilitators, one leading the in-person attendees and the other the remote attendees.
Ask the team members to think about their individual working preferences and needs for skill development and personal growth. This is also where self-awareness comes into play, as it is important to understand one's personality and individual sources of motivation and energy, and vice versa, what drains us. Encourage open conversation about these topics, because a better understanding of each other helps us to collaborate better and avoid misunderstandings that easily happen in remote communication. It will also help you to make potentially needed adjustments to roles, responsibilities, and individual goals.
After the individual reflection, make a summary of your important team-level findings in the canvas.
Questions for inspiration
How well do I align with our team’s purpose and what can I do to contribute to our success?
How do I prefer to work, what are my boundaries and why?
What does not work for me?
What is the best location to do what type of work for me?
How do I prefer to communicate?
What are the situations when I struggle with communicating with others?
How do I consistently build my presence online and offline?
How do I take responsibility for my work?
What are my development goals and how can I reach them?
What kind of support do I need to improve my performance, well-being and/or development?
What is important to me to feel that I am on the right team?
Not clearly communicating about who you are, your working preferences and your expectations to your teammates
Expecting others to support you when you don’t tell them how they could best do it
Agreeing to work in ways that don’t suit you and which impacts your well-being and quality of work
Whether you are working remotely, on-site or hybrid, strive to make yourself seen and heard by your teammates
Share about your personality (e.g., are you more of an introvert or extrovert?) and how it affects your behaviour in remote, on-site and hybrid settings.
Communicate your preferred working hours to your team members so you can work together efficiently while respecting each other’s boundaries
Practice self-awareness and learn ways of avoiding distractions
Clear communication may be the single most important element in hybrid work. The team should have a shared understanding of the communication practices for different purposes and the rationale behind them - otherwise, conflicts may arise if team members have different preferences, e.g., when to come to the office.
Define how your team should interact in different situations, e.g. when to communicate face-to-face and when remotely, and when to work in a synchronous or asynchronous way.
Pay special attention to two things. First, invest time and effort in relationship building between team members, as hybrid communication easily becomes ‘transactional’, thus increasing the risk of misunderstandings or disconnection between people. Second, avoid unconsciously favoring people who happen to be in the office. We naturally continue chatting with people near us after a meeting and new ideas come up, which is a good thing, of course. However, it is important to be aware of this and find ways to increase inclusivity between remote and on-site colleagues.
Define meeting policies for productive hybrid meetings (e.g. when a meeting is NOT a solution, how to prepare for meetings, participant roles, ensuring psychological safety, and how to create a sense of personal presence in meetings).
Transactional communication, i.e.getting (simple) stuff done, asking for information, quick follow-ups, or making corrections
Ideation, problem-solving and feedback discussions
Questions for inspiration
What is the purpose of in-person/remote/hybrid meetings? How often? Who should participate and why?
How to connect people in the room with remote participants? Up to how many participants? Or do we hold hybrid meetings at all?
How to create room for informal and spontaneous communication and feedback?
How can we best convey unspoken/silent information?
How do we make sure everyone gets heard equally?
How do we collect feedback, report problems and solve conflicts?
How do we make sure that everyone has access to the same information?
How do we celebrate successes?
How do we minimize unnecessary distractions?
How do we ensure a pleasant onboarding experience for new team members?
What rituals and practices do we use to strengthen our team spirit?
How to better express emotions in remote meetings?
Lack of preparation for meetings
Too many online meetings
Too many participants in meetings - few people talk and most are passive
The threat of misunderstandings/being misunderstood in online interaction
Coming to the office, but ending up being in online meetings the whole day
New team members and remote team members feel like ‘outsiders’ due to a lack of a proper onboarding
Remote workers feel like outsiders (not part of casual conversations or decisions)
Team bonding heavily relies on one person, thus draining him/her whilst possibly decreasing engagement from others
Stop thinking "meeting first"
When a new person joins the team, have a daily online meeting or come to the office to meet every team member individually
Encourage your team to stick to the official channel set for a specific purpose
Ways of working
Define how actual work happens in your hybrid team, i.e. how tasks are assigned between team members, and which type of work should or can be done synchronously or asynchronously. Think, about how individual workload is best monitored with a special focus on remote workers, and how team members can be supported in prioritizing their tasks. Finally, identify systematic ways for reflection and discovering new opportunities.
Task assignment (asynchronous and synchronous tasks)
Workload management and task prioritization
Reflection and discovering new opportunities
Questions for inspiration
Which tasks can/should be done synchronously or asynchronously and why?
How do we assign and split tasks, prioritize and follow up on them?
How do we make sure everyone is on the same page regarding each other’s tasks?
How do we avoid double work?
How do we measure everyone’s workload and results?
How do we support and respect each other’s needs and boundaries?
How do we discover new opportunities?
Duplication of work due to poor coordination and collaboration
Not consistently saving information and content in the dedicated online tools, especially when working together on-site, thus limiting remote access
Handling too many things simultaneously
When people pair or team up, give them the freedom to decide whether they want to work synchronously or asynchronously.
Set aside enough time to search for alternative solutions to your current ways of working.
Try to understand your own and your colleagues' ability to face ambiguity which easily comes with hybrid work. Define ways to get or give support when needed.
Workspaces and tools
Hybrid work requires you to think across on-site and remote settings to make sure that the team members have equal access to the necessary tools, equipment, and infrastructures. Also think about the physical workspaces, furniture, and equipment and how they best support your team’s ways of working - both at the office and at home. Make sure the team members have high-quality connections to access digital workspaces irrespective of their location.
Ergonomics is the foundation for efficient ways of working. The smart combination of physical and online workspaces allows you to focus on the work itself.
Digital (e.g., communication, collaboration, learning, task tracking, devices)
Physical (e.g., spaces, furniture and equipment)
Ergonomics (physical and digital)
Safety and security
Questions for inspiration
What kind of spaces and tools do we need to better connect people working remotely and those working on-site?
Which tools can we use for informal gatherings?
How to create visual ways to see people in online meetings?
Which tools and spaces can we use to support the feeling of flow at work?
What kind of office spaces do we need for creativity, deep focus, and collaboration?
How do we ensure that work ergonomics is at a good level for everyone?
How can we support cognitive ergonomics?
How do we share and store information?
Which communication channels are used for what purposes?
How to create effective teamworking and meetings?
Could the employer support better tools for a home office?
How do we make sure everyone is using the agreed tools for work?
What are the critical security measures for the work we do?
Problems with technical equipment in the office results in call delays, missing social interactions before and after the meeting for those online
Having too many channels in use increases information loss and misuse, eventually hindering individual work and teamwork
Slow adaptation of technology
Failing to use what you already have
One size fits all -mentality, i.e. not recognizing the different needs people have to conduct their work effectively
Give your team members the freedom to choose whether to work at the office or at home taking into account the work tasks of the day
The success of your hybrid teamwork very much depends on its members' psychological, emotional and physical well-being.
While hybrid working increases flexibility, it also challenges your individual well-being. We may assume that we should be constantly available, thus blurring the lines between private life and work, or we may miss face-to-face social interaction with our colleagues.
Therefore, managing well-being becomes increasingly important. Your psychological and emotional well-being intertwine because what you think affects how you feel, which in turn affects how you behave. Your physical well-being prevents undue physical fatigue or stress. Hence, your well-being can make or break your contribution to hybrid teamwork. It influences your motivation, your creativity, your resilience and your productivity. Also, countless online meetings with talking heads easily exhaust us.
Furthermore, what affects well-being, to what extent, how and why may differ from one person to another. Therefore, monitoring well-being helps track individual health on a team level, assess the gaps against team well-being standards, and adopt measures to keep everyone on board. This reduces turnover rates, absences and sick leaves apart from assisting in the resolution of any potential gaps with stakeholders to continue with healthy and grounded hybrid collaboration.
Questions for inspiration
What does well-being mean for our team?
How do we take responsibility for our well-being (physical and mental)?
What factors affect our individual and team well-being and how?
How do we raise awareness and build dialogue around well-being to establish and sustain psychological safety?
What can we do to make sure that our team members are doing okay?
What common rules do we need to strike a balance between work and free time?
How do we handle different types of stress? When do we need what type of rest?
How do we prevent unnecessary/excessive stress and/or burnout and how do we address such situations?
How do we help team members to take care of their well-being?
How can we best support a team member who is confronted with a difficult personal situation?
Lack of self-awareness regarding what you need for your own well-being, thus raising your risk of burnout.
Not viewing well-being holistically (e.g., adopting quick and easy measures like financial incentives or events instead of getting to the root of the problem).
Mixing good performance with well-being
Seldom talking about your emotions reduces the climate of psychological safety
Stigmatizing emotions or discussion about them
Create routines and provide general conditions/standards for hybrid work (availability, working hours, etc.), including enough time for personal connections within the team.
Understand that everyone can have a bad day so do not judge too fast and be kind
Create awareness among leadership on the importance of their role for well-being (i.e., walking the talk and being present) and provide one-on-one discussions between leaders and employees.
Hybrid work requires many of the leadership practices we may have forgotten. More clarity and thoughtful planning on team purpose, targets, team structures, roles and communication is needed to make hybrid teams effective.
A hybrid team leader steers teamwork by overseeing and supporting all the other elements in The NextGen Work Canvas (team leadership) and makes sure the team is well aligned with its stakeholders (organizational leadership).
In team leadership, first, connect your team’s purpose with that of the organization and review and adjust team targets to best reflect this alignment. Second, evaluate whether your team structure, roles and responsibilities support your team’s purpose. Third, makes sure that your hybrid team’s communication, ways of working, and workspaces and tools are optimal for the team to reach its targets. Fourth, be present for your team members, ask how they feel, be responsive, empower, and mentor them.
Organizational leadership manages stakeholder relations in addition to supporting and implementing change with your team’s best interest in mind. You negotiate with stakeholders to readjust requirements and deliverables whilst bearing in mind the organizational and team’s purposes. You ensure everyone on your team is aware of any policy changes and reflect with them on how to best adapt.
Organizational leadership (e.g., managing stakeholders relations, supporting and implementing change)
Questions for inspiration
Have we received proper training for leading hybrid teams?
How can our leader(s) infuse an inspiring vision that drives a shared purpose with all our team members?
How can we make leaders aware of their unconscious bias towards people working in different settings (onsite vs. remote)?
How do we create trust within our team or organization?
What resources do we have or need and how do we leverage them to get the pulse of our teammates and experiment with smart working across space and time?
What KPIs and OKRs do we have to monitor hybrid work and how much flexibility do we have to meet our goals?
What work and behavior standards and policies do we have and to what extent do our leaders practice what they preach? What signals we should update our standards and policies and how shall we proceed?
How can everyone be heard, seen and treated equally so our respective needs are considered whilst recognition and benefits are granted fairly between remote and onsite workers?
How much appreciation and guidance are needed from the leader and under what circumstances?
How do we create collaboration opportunities, mitigate risks and resolve issues with our stakeholders?
Making assumptions about people and their situations rather than asking
Not creating circumstances for sharing bits and pieces of everyday life to create a sense of psychological safety and connection within your team
Lacking trust in your team members to do their job when they are not visible to you (e.g., imposing and controlling your team members’ working hours and location).
Favoring team members who are in the office.
As a team leader, stay visible to your team members and create visibility for them.
To improve your communication as a leader, ask "What did you hear?" instead of "Did you understand?"
Create clear and simple guidelines with your team members
Most importantly, lead by example
Hybrid Work Lab project team: Heikki Leskinen, Artis Gromuls, Leyla Yacine, Hilda Mäkelä and Nina Perälä Partners: Howspace: Tomi Hilvo, Liisa Marsio, Hanna Liimatainen ISKU: Miia Lähdes, Antti Olin, Maiju Hyytiäinen, Ilkka Ylilauri Fujitsu: Pekka Hirvi, Yael Hälvä, Kimmo Matero, Sari Heikkinen, Jenni Porvari Hybrid Work Lab participants: Paula Autio, City of Helsinki Susanna Bernitz, Lumene Oy Pinja Fernström, Naveo Commerce Erika Grönroos, Pohjantähti Keskinäinen Vakuutusyhtiö Milla Ilanen, Kekkilä-BVB Reetta Julkunen, SEB Tahvo Kekkonen, Wise Consulting / LeadDesk Oyj Stephan Kraus, HYPT Jaakko Kylämies, Visma Public Oy Lotta Kyllönen, OP Iina Lindholm, Paroc Oy Christoph Lüneburg, Nokia Rosa Malinen, Mehiläinen Anna Manninen, Barona Matilda Mäkitalo, Howspace Henrietta Niskanen, LähiTapiola Ogadinma Nwoko, KPMG Finland Tugce Ozturk, Nokia Joonas Pakkanen, Fujitsu Nattalya Pinto, Volvo Cars Henna Räihä, L&T Siivous Oy Iida Salmenranta, OP Group Annaliisa Selin, Bonava Suomi Oy Juuli Saarelainen, Howspace Noora Stafford, Arla Oy Cecilie Sundling, maternity leave Veikko Vataja, Sampo Group Veera Virintie, Silta Education Oy Natalie Waschke Anastasia Zolotova, Volvo Cars