It’s Time to Embrace the Hybrid Working Model

By Sue Doerfler

Six in 10 supply chain leaders say that the coronavirus pandemic has helped a hybrid working model emerge as the norm.

According to the annual Gartner Future of Supply Chain survey, 61 percent of respondents said that the acceleration to remote work during the pandemic has instigated the change. To remain competitive, the survey found, organizations can no longer be location-centric; they must transform to a human-centric model that focuses on flexible working conditions, intentional collaboration and empathy-based management.

Conducted August through October by the Stamford, Connecticut-based global consultancy, the survey of nearly 1,000 supply management leaders sought to identify the changes shaping supply chains in years to come.

“In an environment of talent and labor shortage, supply chain leaders anticipate employee expectations to become more demanding and feel that they must prepare to meet those expectations — or lose to competitors that do,” said Suzie Petrusic, Ph.D., director of research with the Gartner Supply Chain practice, in a press release about the Supply Chain Executive Report: The Future of Supply Chain 2022. “Fifty-seven percent of respondents believe that those intensified employee expectations will also increase the costs of attracting, hiring and retaining talent.”

Having a work model that embraces the three factors can aid in attracting and retaining talent:

Flexible working conditions. “(T)he supply chain of the future will be marked by flexible workspaces and work schedules, such as part-time shifts and the possibility for employees to schedule and trade their own shifts,” the survey press release states. Fifty-six percent of respondents said they intend to design work primarily for flexibility. Technology also can enable flexibility through such applications as augmented and virtual reality, Gartner researchers found.

Such flexibility in scheduling will be a boon to operational and frontline workers, who have had to show up in person during the pandemic: “(T)he supply chains that achieve flexibility at the frontline will win the talent competition of the future,” the press release states.

Fifty-six percent intend to design work primarily for flexibility, offering such measures as offering part-time shifts and the possibility for employees to schedule and trade shifts.

Intentional collaboration. According to the survey, agile workplaces, collaboration-based training and collaboration between remote and in-person employees will define the future. Six in 10 respondents said they are “investing in providing policy and communication tools for seamless in-person and remote work relationships.”

Empathy-based management. Survey respondents (about 75 percent) say they are investing in equitable employee practices and purpose-driven initiatives, realizing that they must be accountable for diversity, equity and inclusion and employee well-being.

(Photo credit: Getty Images/Celiaosk)

About the Author

Sue Doerfler

About the Author

As Senior Writer for Inside Supply Management® magazine, I cover topics, trends and issues relating to supply chain management.