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Adapting HR functions for a hybrid operating model

Instructions for candidates

Instructions for candidates

1. Read the following instructions carefully before answering the assessment, as failure to act upon them will result in a loss of marks.


2. Please type your answers – answers written by hand will not be marked. Assessments should be typed in Arial 12 pt. font with 1.5 line spacing.


3. The work created by you should be original and should not infringe the copyright of any other person. Plagiarism will be penalised and may lead to serious disciplinary action such as suspension or expulsion from the institution.


4. No shared assessments will be accepted. In the case where students hand in shared work or work that is identical to the work of other students, both will be penalised and will receive zero for their assessments. In addition, disciplinary action will be taken.


5. Only assessments written in English will be accepted.

Note to student: You will be penalised for the copying of theory without explanation/application to the scenario provided. You should use the theory in support of your own answer. Non-application will result in a zero mark being awarded.

Just a reminder of the attributes that are expected from postgraduate student work:
• The answer is properly structured (introduction, core discussion and conclusion).
• The text has been properly edited (no language and spelling mistakes).
• Sources have been correctly referenced (according to the Milpark Reference Guide).
• The answer is of the appropriate length (staying within the word or page limit).
• The question has been accurately interpreted (all aspects have been addressed).
• The answer contains a unique and original argument (avoiding simple replication of course content).
• Relevant and credible sources have been integrated (supporting the argument with other expert opinions from the literature).
• The answer is supported with relevant theoretical perspectives (based on the critical evaluation of available perspectives).
• The answer demonstrates analytical ability, advanced understanding and clarity of thought (there is proper integration and logic in the presentation).
• There is successful application of the relevant concepts and models (application to own or contextual examples). 

Answer the following question.

Question 1 (100 marks)

Read the case study and answer the question that follows:

The future of work

Without an existential shock like the COVID-19 pandemic, you would have needed change management programs to convince and motivate people to make the desired changes. In this case, there is no time to consider any alternatives; no time to resist. You wake up and the new way of working simply exists – there is no alternative and there is no option to return to how things were. This amount of change – had it been gradual – would have taken decades.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a watershed event in the history of the world – a major healthcare crisis that has challenged society in new ways. It has also signalled a major shift for businesses as lockdowns were imposed around the world and organizations were pushed, almost overnight, into an enforced experiment in remote working. In industries where all-out virtual working is nearly impossible – such as manufacturing, power generation, mining, construction, etc. – many operations simply ceased, with devastating consequences for economies and jobs.

Online submission - Summative assessment 100 marks


For many organizations, the move to a virtual operating environment was not entirely new and had already been underway in the pre-pandemic era. In recent years, as companies focused on remote working in response to changes in employee needs and behaviors, many of them actively looked at hybrid working in some form. A hybrid workforce essentially refers to a workforce that is distributed across different locations, from traditional office and factory spaces to remote locations, including within employees’ living space, be it a family home or shared apartment. A hybrid working model is characterized by the flexibility and  choices it offers employees, and it can be an innovative way of driving new approaches to agility, collaboration, and ways of working. 

A recent report suggested that even in sectors that historically tend to be more location-dependent, such as manufacturing, more than half of businesses were considering some degree of hybrid working. The pandemic has only accelerated this trend. According to Bryan Campbell, agile transformation executive at ExxonMobil, “We absolutely see remote working or ‘work from anywhere’ as the new operating model. In our context, it was already envisioned to be a destination, but it's been greatly accelerated with the pandemic. We recognize this as a new operating model and one that will last in some form in the future.”


Recommendations for shifting to a hybrid workforce future

The fully remote model that we have seen in recent months has delivered mixed results. While it has brought tangible advantages – from a better worklife balance for certain groups of employees to productivity gains for some organizations – we also found it has its limitations. This points to a future built on a hybrid model, which strikes a balance between work-from-home and office models, and which aims to differentiate the company and build its employee proposition. Next Plc, a UK-based retailer, says, “We will allow the balance between working from home and in the office to evolve over time, allowing each functional area (buying, design, systems development, etc.) to work its way towards the optimum working practices for its particular needs and its particular people.”


This will mean that organizations will need to find the right operating model for a hybrid approach. This is not the same as imposing a virtual layer over the existing organization. Professor Rose Luckin, professor of learner-centered design at the UCL Knowledge Lab in London, adds, “Organizations need to realize that this new hybrid way is not a case of necessarily repeating what they used to do in the physical workplace sense. Companies that thrive in this environment will be those that see it as an opportunity to work, lead, and organize differently.” It will impact the way leaders think and lead, the way work is conducted, and existing processes and team structures. Before leaders settle on one operating model, they need to test and iterate to determine the right fit for various functions. Leading organizations will create a prototype of a virtual organization, a minimum viable organization (MVO), where core components and characteristics of the future organizational model for each function are tested and optimized under real conditions.


The right structure should strike the balance between empowerment and control, centralization and delegation, and the number of desired levels in the organization. Leaders can use the opportunity to question existing structures, rethink the effectiveness of operating models, and break down organizational silos and barriers between teams.

Tailor your organisation’s employee experience to adapt to a hybrid operating model by rethinking the following HR functions of the employee life cycle to establish the right operating model in a hybrid working world for your organisation:
• Talent onboarding
• Learning and development
• Performance management
• Employee well-being.


Your paper should include the following:

• A succinct description of what the organisation does, and the competitive landscape of the organisation
• An analysis of how the given HR functions were applied in your organisation before the Covid pandemic
• A literature review of hybrid operating models in organisations
• An interview with five line managers in the organisation by means of which you compare their views with regard to the following:
– Their understanding of a hybrid operating model in the world of work
– How the following HR functions can be tailored to establish the right operating model in a hybrid working world for your organisation:
o Talent onboarding
o Learning and development
o Performance management
o Employee well-being.


Based on the inputs of the line managers and the research you have done, tailor the HR functions to establish the right operating model in a hybrid working world for your organisation.

Table of Contents: your paper should include a Table of Contents along the
following lines:


• Introduction
• Problem statement
• Description of the organisation
• Literature review
• Analysis and findings
• Proposed hybrid operating model
• Conclusion.


Note: your response should be in report format. Research and referencing: you need to consult at least 10 additional credible/academic sources to inform this discussion. These sources must be included in-text and in your final Reference List. Consult the Milpark Reference Guide. Marks will be deducted for incorrect referencing.


Marking rubric: take note of the marking rubric at the end of the paper, and use it to guide your report.


Technical requirements: use an Arial 12 font with 1.5 line spacing – and be sure that your answer does not exceed 10 pages.

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