8 minute read 30 Jun 2022
Picture of Business People Meeting Design Ideas Concept

Building the right hybrid work rhythm for your organization

By Josephine Bergström

Senior Manager, Business Consulting, EY Sweden

Passionate about people, team development and leadership – related to the future of work. Language geek (especially for unusual combinations such as Chinese and Danish) and avid book lover.

8 minute read 30 Jun 2022
Related topics Workforce

A hackathon exercise that engages your people, teams and leaders is key to building a successful hybrid workplace experience.

In brief
  • As we welcome a hybrid future, it is imperative that we bring our people and teams onboard the transformation plan.
  • The Nordic hybrid model serves as an inspiration, offering the freedom and flexibility to decide when and where to work.
  • A strategic hackathon exercise is a great way to encourage collaboration and generate ideas on the hybrid work plan

Years of transformation and the disruption brought forth by the COVID-19 pandemic have set the stage for a future where work is hybrid and flexible. But as companies set out to design and communicate their hybrid working models, new questions and challenges arise. What new roles should teams, people and leaders assume in this new scenario? Despite the rising popularity of the term “hybrid”, how well do we all understand and embrace this concept?

After listening to the voices of our people and going through the latest research, we realized that we needed a workplace that focuses on trust in our people and respect for individual needs, preferences and life situations.

At EY, we went live with our Nordic Hybrid Model during the fall of 2021. We define the model as one that is based on freedom and flexibility. This means that our people can decide for themselves when and where to work. By offering the right technology and office spaces combined with transformative leadership skills, we built a flexible and inclusive workplace.

EY Teams support and guide our people to make smart decisions on work preferences not only based on their needs but also that of their teams, the organization and their clients.

Here’s how we did it.

The Work Reimagined hackathon

As we recognized that new challenges demand new ideas and approaches, we decided to gather passionate and curious people with diverse perspectives in a one-day design sprint – bringing into play Bricks, Bytes and Behaviors.

  • Bricks: A network of spaces that supports all the different activities that employees perform during a workday.

  • Bytes: User-centric digital workplace that enables knowledge sharing and collaboration regardless of time, place and setting.

  • Behaviors: Purpose-driven culture that is built on trust and encourages collaboration, experimentation, transparency and self-leadership.

The Work Reimagined hackathon built upon a design thinking approach where EY people from across Service Lines and support functions together explored challenges related to hybrid working and developed solution prototypes for some of these challenges.

We looked at hybrid working through three lenses: The individual (me), the team (we) and the leader. What we discovered in the process was that the challenges experienced in these dimensions were closely interlinked.

  1. For individuals, expectations around (hybrid) ways of working and team norms were the main challenge. We discovered that there is a need for more dialogue about individual preferences, needs and wants in order to clarify expectations and avoid uncertainty. There is a risk that flexibility comes with a (perceived) pressure to always be available in Teams or Outlook. Another struggle can be in finding the right balance between the efficiency of remote work and the energy of physical interaction.
  2. For teams, the main challenge is in strengthening teaming and building a sense of belonging in a hybrid setting. It also becomes more important to ensure that team members have the same access to knowledge, networking and coaching opportunities no matter when and where they work.
  3. For leaders, the biggest challenge lies in recognizing their role in a hybrid model and designing their workweeks to make room for active coaching, networking, socializing and teaming. Leadership in a hybrid working model needs to be much more deliberate and that doesn’t just happen without great effort.

In order to better guide our people, teams and leaders to find a great hybrid-working rhythm, we are now developing a number of guiding principles alongside tools, tips and tricks.

The EY hackathon blueprint to inspire yours

We’ve mentioned the term “hackathon” quite a few times in this article to refer to the immersive, collaborative exercise which empowered us to reimagine work. The good news is that our hackathon blueprint can serve as an inspiration in your ideation process in building a hybrid work future.

At EY Nordics, we split our hackathon exercise across two distinctive sessions to build the hybrid workplace idea that aligns with EY stakeholder interests. Here is a quick overview of what each session entails:

Session 1: Inspiration and exploration

The first session focuses on gathering inspiration from recent experiences and conducting research on how workplaces can become fit for diverse needs and work styles.  Well-being and performance improvement are key focus areas for research.

This part of the exercise encourages thought-provoking questions that help participants think beyond the current way of working. For example, “What are common demands related to Bricks, Bytes and Behaviors and how has the COVID-19 experience changed them?”

The session helps enable the exploration of hybrid work challenges in a collaborative atmosphere with colleagues. It also involves digging deep to understand the root cause of challenges and develop a “How might we…” problem statement to take forward.

Session 2: Co-creation and prototyping

While the first session lays fertile ground for the incubation of fresh, innovative ideas, the second session gives space for these ideas to develop and form a prototype.

This session involves gathering stakeholders from different parts of the business. The select set of individuals must collectively represent the Bricks, Bytes and Behaviors components of your business and also other key functions. Together, all the parties involved continue the exploration and ideation journey – now with more focus on the right stakeholders.

At this stage, you can validate the “How might we…” problem statement that was developed in session 1. This should ideally result in the co-creation of a solution prototype that can be built on.

The strongest threads that connect the exercise across sessions are the facilitators who possess design thinking experience and are clearly aligned with the Brick, Byte and Behavior pillars.

In line with the overall ambition for the EY Nordic Hybrid Model, the hackathon approach is designed to provide guidance and inspiration and to invite individual and team reflections and dialogue. One size does not fit all and finding the hybrid-working rhythm can only happen in a dialogue between individuals and teams.


The EY Hybrid Model gives our people the flexibility to collaborate with clients and colleagues in the best way for each unique situation. With technology that helps enable hybrid collaboration and a strong culture that inspires innovation, everything is possible. Build the hybrid model that works for your people, teams and leaders using the immersive hackathon experience.

About this article

By Josephine Bergström

Senior Manager, Business Consulting, EY Sweden

Passionate about people, team development and leadership – related to the future of work. Language geek (especially for unusual combinations such as Chinese and Danish) and avid book lover.