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Navigating Hybrid Collaboration: Insights from Industry Leaders

A ChapmanCG Global HR Leaders Forum in Hamburg

Hosted by: Olympus Amplifon

In today’s workplace, where the only constant is change, there is no arguing that hybrid work has emerged as a crucial strategy for maximising team productivity and innovation. While there is no one-size-fits-all strategy, meeting-free Fridays, stakeholder workday alignment, and adopting the latest WFH tech are some of the approaches often used when combining remote work flexibility with in-person engagement.

To help bring this topic to life, Olympus recently hosted our ChapmanCG Global HR Leaders Forum at their new state-of-the-art campus in Hamburg. Encouraged and moderated by Marion Boensch, Managing Director and VP HR EMEA at Olympus Corporation, and Sina Freundlieb, Human Resources Director at Amplifon, HR leaders from market-leading companies across different sectors shared their approaches towards hybrid collaboration, offering valuable insights into its implementation and real-life impact on their organisations.

Olympus advocates for a 40/60 rule. This means employees should spend 40% of their time in the office every month. Marion Boensch explained that travelling for work is considered part of their office days and the overarching goal is to encourage the team to use the office environment to promote collaboration and a sense of identity among employees. The recent investment in their new EMEA HQ in Hamburg is a testament to their philosophy that the workplace should provide options fit for purpose for different activities and needs while fostering a culture of approachability and cocreation. 

HR leaders from the med tech and food tech industries shared similar approaches, acknowledging the challenges of implementing hybrid work models across different regions. While Europe may find it easier to adopt a 40/60 rule, regions like the Middle East and Asia require more flexible approaches to consider cultural and logistical differences. However, the consensus remains on providing employees freedom and flexibility while ensuring alignment with organisational goals and values.

An HR leader representing the FMCG sector stressed the importance of creating “moments that matter” to encourage a voluntary return to the office. By focusing on meaningful interactions and fostering a culture of trust and autonomy, they have successfully integrated hybrid work arrangements without strict tracking, allowing individuals to judge what works best for them.

Amplifon has a significant portion of its workforce in retail. Sina Freundlieb emphasised the importance of standardising hybrid work principles while accommodating the specific needs of different functions. Consistency in policies and collaboration between functions help Amplifon ensure a sense of belonging and alignment across its diverse workforce.

Leadership engagement is another critical factor in facilitating hybrid collaboration. Leaders should engage with their teams to understand their needs and preferences and co-create solutions that align with individual and organisational objectives. Tools and technology support hybrid work, enabling seamless communication and collaboration across distributed teams.

Feedback mechanisms and continuous improvement are also vital components of successful hybrid collaboration strategies. Regular surveys and assessments help organisations gauge employee satisfaction and adapt policies accordingly. Flexibility and adaptability are essential, with companies embracing a culture of learning and evolution to meet the evolving needs of their workforce.

To sum up this inspirational and, at times, quite lively discussion –  hybrid collaboration is an evolving approach to modern work practices. We are learning by doing, through trial and error, driven by the need for flexibility, productivity, and employee well-being. By leveraging insights from industry leaders and fostering a culture of trust, autonomy, and collaboration, organisations can navigate the complexities of hybrid work settings and unlock the full potential of their teams.

We are excited to bring our network together again soon for further thought leadership opportunities in Germany and around the world. Keep an eye out here for details about our upcoming global HR leader gatherings.


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