Unveiling the Power of Hybrid Work with Expert Gillian Brookes

Recently we had the pleasure of meeting with Gillian Brookes, a Wellington-based expert renowned for her work in creating flexible workplaces that thrive.

Gillian Brookes photo and person at desk double image

Gillian’s extensive experience includes developing tailored strategies to help organisations implement effective flexible work practices. She offers workshops for executive leaders, managers, and HR professionals, focusing on fostering a culture of trust and productivity within flexible teams.

We were so impressed by Gillian’s knowledge and research on creating flexible workplaces that we just had to share it with you! Her insights on fostering productive, trusting teams are truly invaluable.

Gillian’s Interview

Kia ora Gillian, thank you so much for taking time out of your day to talk about all things hybrid working, a very hot topic at the moment. For those who don’t know, can you tell us a bit about what Hybrid Working means and looks like? 

Gillian: “Hybrid work is when someone splits their working week between working from home and working from the office. It’s not a new thing, but it has absolutely exploded in popularity and uptake since we moved out of the pandemic response. According to the data it looks like we’ve seen around 30+ years worth of change in just three years. It’s continuing to embed itself here in Aotearoa as well as overseas. It’s a big change that’s certainly here to stay!” 


Wow, these are some incredible stats. Everyone is talking about Hybrid Working at the moment: Why is that and why does it seem so vital to offer as an employer? 

Gillian: “Hybrid work is highly valued by staff. People love not having to commute every day anymore. They love the flexibility this gives them to manage all demands on their time and energy, be that from work or other aspects of life. In fact, according to one study in the US it’s valued on average at around 8% of pay. That doesn’t mean those employers offering hybrid can cut pay by 8%, but it does mean that it puts less upward pressure on your salary bill during this time of higher costs of living. Also, from an employer perspective, if hybrid is done well you can really drive productivity across your business, although that needs to be supported with some structure and manager training.” 


That is a really interesting study. We know that our employees really appreciate hybrid working and its ability to create a better work-life balance. For those who want to adopt Hybrid Working policies, where is the best place to start?

Gillian: “Start with why hybrid matters to you and your business. What’s the business reason for you to commit to flexible and hybrid ways of working?

Now that the heat is starting to come out of the labour market and it’s likely to get slightly easier to recruit, those employers who aren’t clear about why flex and hybrid matter to them could slip back into more traditional ways of working. The danger here is that you miss out on the right people and you only access those who can fit in with those more constrained and traditional patterns. I’d rather have the right person working for me on terms that work for us both, than the wrong person on my terms.

Once you’ve got that clear in your business, you can put in some really simple flexible work tools to make sure that the flex arrangements actually work for everyone. My Flexperts book and Flexperts online course are really easy ways to get you started if you’re looking for some support.” 


That is such an interesting point you raise about potentially missing out on talent if the working style of the company continues to remain traditional. It certainly makes you realise how important hybrid working is. So tell us about how this impacts team culture? We know team culture is easily managed in in-person environments, so how do you maintain a sense of connection within the team when they are dispersed? 

Gillian: “That is such a common question and tension for leaders right now. We’ve spent all our lives building culture based on the in-person experience. Now we have to learn entirely new ways of connecting when that’s not so readily available. An article I wrote on this very topic is a great place to begin. It’s all about having more ways to connect beyond the endless Teams calls – I think we’ve all had enough of those!” 

Gillian Brookes portrait image

What stood out in that article was moving towards more asynchronous voice notes and videos. That is something I think many of us don’t ultilise enough and it’s a great way to create more space in our days. I’m sure others will read this article and find so many good takeaways. Last but not least, I know there are still many who are sceptial about Hybrid Working; What is the common theme employers are worried about, and your tips for overcoming this?

Gillian: “Many leaders are worried about long-term creativity and innovation if their teams are disconnected and dispersed. The danger is that many of us focus only on the type of productivity we experience when we’re at home and can work uninterrupted to get through our long to-do lists. I call this short-term productivity. We also need to factor in long-term productivity. This is much more likely to happen when we come together in-person, perhaps with some light structure, and explore ideas, overlap across teams, and come up with new and different ways to work and add value to the organisation. The value I bring to leaders I work with is to structure flexibility that factors in both short-term AND long-term productivity so that flexible and hybrid work serves everyone for the long haul. If you want to find out more feel free to get in touch.”

Our conversation with Gillian Brookes highlights the transformative impact of hybrid working in modern workplaces. Her insights into the benefits, challenges, and implementation strategies for hybrid work are invaluable for any organisation looking to adapt to this evolving work environment. 

By understanding the importance of flexibility, fostering a culture of trust, and balancing short-term and long-term productivity, businesses can create thriving, resilient teams. 

If you’re interested in learning more about effective hybrid work practices, Gillian’s Flexperts book and online course are excellent resources to get started. For further insights and practical tips, be sure to reach out to Gillian directly.

image of Flex-perts book by Gillian Brookes

The old saying goes; market to everyone, market to no one. Instead of trying to target everyone, specialise in a particular niche and target it well. Whether it’s servicing contractors, small businesses, or specific industries like hospitality or construction, becoming an expert in a niche market can make your business more attractive to potential clients.