The Covid-19 pandemic has fast tracked us to think about how we want to work in the future and many organisations are now considering moving towards a “hybrid way of working” where people have more choice and flexibility in where, as well as when they work. In the hybrid model, you may see people working sometimes in the office, sometimes at home or sometimes in another place, for example a coffee shop. In addition, traditional working hours of 9- 5 could be abolished in favour of hours that better suit individuals.
As restrictions from the pandemic are further lifted, we are hearing that there will now be a choice to be made as to how to conduct business going forward and whether to continue to adopt a more permanent flexible approach. Of course this may not work for every organisation, but many leaders are considering their options which may also result in cost saving benefits as the need for office space is reduced.
So what are the benefits of a hybrid way of working?
We have been operating the hybrid model at Connor for a while, although it is true to say that the pandemic certainly accelerated home working that most other companies experienced.
In talking with our clients and friends, we have recognised the benefits that home working can bring to home/work integration such as:
- Cutting down on commuting time
- Being able to be at home for deliveries and jobs that need to be done around the house
- Being able to be around for children
- Being more productive and being able to work in a more focussed way
Leaders have also recognised that a flexible solution can help them better retain their talent, as people have more choice in where to live and work.
There is also a potential benefit of helping people with their wellbeing. People now have more choice of working when they feel at their best and adapt working hours to where they know they will be able to tap into their “flow.” This undoubtedly enables people to be more innovative and creative which may indeed lead to a competitive advantage.
What are some of the challenges we may face when working in a hybrid world?
As humans we have an innate desire to connect and doing this in a virtual world where we do not see people in the same place every day can make this harder. Many of us have become more consciously aware that places like work, school, gyms, and community hubs provide a place for communicating and connecting and this is important for us to thrive as human beings.
The pandemic highlighted the need for social connection. Working from home caused some very practical issues around finding the space in homes to work, juggling home schooling, getting to grips with technology and it caused us to recognise just how much we missed the face-to-face social connections and that feeling of belonging which we got from working in an office.
Another challenge is our wellbeing. In a hybrid working world we have more pressure to feel that we are “always on” and escaping the numerous digital notifications and channels can mean that we do not prioritise our own self-care. We can find it hard to stop working when our office is in our homes.
What can help leaders who are considering hybrid working?
Here are some key considerations that can help make working in a hybrid world a success:
- Discuss and agree why it is important for your business that you adopt a hybrid way of working. What are you really hoping to achieve? Getting really intentional about the vision and the culture you want to create and why flexibility is important, will help you to get really clear on why you are doing this. Prepare communications which explain the vision and why this is important.
- Be clear on role modelling and putting wellbeing at the heart of the change. There is a risk that people may work hours which are too long and are not looking after themselves. Leaders can help by being clear on expectations but also by discussing the risks upfront. This could also be an opportunity to roll out some training on resilience and wellbeing.
- Be prepared for a period of transition which may feel uncomfortable, as people’s ideas around what works best are challenged and as they get used to a new way of doing things.
- Involve people in the decision process. Find out what people’s preferences are for flexible working. Managers will be best placed to have these conversations to determine whether a hybrid solution works for individuals in their teams.
- Enable conversations to address the shift of office dynamics which may happen with a mix of home and office-based workers. Allow people to discuss how this change will impact them, how they feel about this change and agree a team charter to help them work together effectively.
- Agree what the plans are to incorporate team building and/or opportunities to connect with fellow workers, to enable the social connection and build the team culture.
- Ensure technology is in place to support remote workers and allow remote meetings with agreement on whether cameras should be on. Agree which communication channels are used.
- Train managers on how to manage remotely and how they can best communicate, manage performance, build trust and spot when someone is not able to cope when they are not seeing their staff day to day. Having this hybrid solution requires leaders to build even greater trust so that the need to micromanage and control are not required.
- Make sure that any permanent changes to working conditions are updated in people’s contracts.
- Review progress on-going and be prepared to be flexible with making changes as the hybrid model of working evolves.
Our own experience at Connor is evolving and as we work with our clients, we are able to offer a variety of solutions to help you to navigate and successfully move to a hybrid way of working. It is important to remember that working and connecting in a hybrid world is not a one size fits all approach and as such, we will work with you to tailor our support and programmes to help you overcome your own individual challenges.
As experts in helping people manage transitions, we have a wide variety of development programmes which can be tailored to suit your needs. These include topics such as leading through change, building resilience and personal wellbeing, manager development as well as individual and team coaching. Contact us on 01491414010 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your unique requirements.