As we continue to navigate out of the pandemic and settle into the new ‘normal’ of our working lives, it’s clear to see that hybrid working is here to stay. With the many benefits of either remote or hybrid working being felt – from saving time on a daily commute, general costs savings, and increased time spent with family – it is easy to see why more employees than ever are pushing for their organisations to commit to a long-term hybrid team working model. Hybrid working is now being driven by employee demand not employer preferences.
A recent Statista survey showed that 73% of employees want flexible remote work options to stay, meaning that business leaders are now having to shape new ways of working faster than ever before. It is clear to see that these leaders are now having to pivot their traditional ideas of how their workforce should work not only to meet this demand, but to ensure that the employee experience is not compromised.
The role of leadership is pivotal for striking the right balance between ensuring teams continue to work as effectively as ever, whilst also feeling just as connected to their employer, despite being in the office less. With 81% of leaders saying that they are changing their workplace policies to offer more flexibility, now is the time for leaders to be considering how best to make this work for their own unique organisations:
As an organisation, it’s so important to engage with your employees at all levels. This helps to define what a sustainable and successful working model looks like. You must give all employees a voice in this, from your senior leadership team through to each employee. This ensures that you can maintain clear and open communication channels whilst new routines are being settled into.
Set clear expectations
What does acceptable and successful hybrid team working look like to you? Many consider hybrid working as just working from home, but it can be so much more. Employees are now embracing the opportunity to work elsewhere. For example, employees are now working from abroad, or even working from their children’s soft play for added family time. It’s up to you to determine and communicate what is acceptable at your organisation.
Make it fair
There is a big risk for leaders to assume that every individual’s expectation of hybrid working is the same – every employee has different responsibilities and preferences. So, don’t assume that every person will want to work remotely. Ensure that there are considered options that are equitable for all colleagues.
Model the right behaviours
Set expectations about what is acceptable and what is not. For your own hybrid working model, it’s important as a leader to model those behaviours yourself. This ensures that employees become truly embedded in your organisation.
Poor communication will undo even the best of plans! A lack of communication from leadership has been flagged as an issue during our conversations with both customers and prospects. Ensure that, as the physical visibility of leaders is reduced, this is made up for in terms of communication. For example: virtual weekly meetings, daily team get togethers, or spontaneous conversations about your employees as individuals. While it’s important to keep communication flowing, make sure you don’t start to mollycoddle employees.
Make hybrid work, work for you
Reassess if there are times when it is best to have everyone together. This may be weekly set days to come into the office, or perhaps only at bigger milestones such as your monthly team meeting. It is important to consider your employees’ optimal work rhythms and make your approach to hybrid team working unique to you and your organisation. Build your hybrid working model on the demands of the work itself and objectively consider this first before diving in.
Give them the means to work efficiently
It’s all well and good allowing teams to work from home because it’s what they prefer, but do they have access to all the tools and equipment they need to perform their roles to the utmost? What is their broadband speed like? Do they have a comfortable place to work? Do they have a second screen? All these things are so important to think about.
This article is an extract from our latest eBook: ‘Steering your leadership teams: A how to guide for HR’. Download the eBook now by using the form below to learn more about how views on leadership have changed over time and how HR can support leadership teams to adapt to this. You can also view all our other eBooks available to download here.