Hybrid working is here to stay. Why? Because so many studies, including the latest from work from home researcher Nick Bloom, show that it’s not only good for productivity, and employee satisfaction, it also cuts attrition rates.
The successful implementation of hybrid working in any organisation is something that requires significant attention. It affects so many areas of working life from hiring to onboarding, team culture to leadership styles and all of these factors need to be carefully considered if they’re going to give employees the best experience.
One of the major challenges facing businesses in the world of hybrid working is that many leaders simply aren’t equipped to manage remotely.
It’s a completely different ball game and one which requires agility, trust and balancing different employee preferences with performance and collaboration.
Here are some key things to consider when leading a hybrid workforce.
- Establish expectations
Crafting a clear set of expectations and team norms is the best place to start. This allows employees to know what is required from them and gives everyone a benchmark to work from. Having this framework is also beneficial for when new people join the team in future as they ensure everyone is clear about how they should approach work independently and collaboratively.
When shaping these expectations think about what the overall goals of the team are, what methods of communication are most effective, how often will the team meet (virtually and in person), how can technology support these goals?
- Enable inclusivity
An effective hybrid leader will empower all employees to contribute no matter where they are. This can be challenging; we know the shortfalls of video calls and how it can kill creativity and collaboration. However, it is essential that employees feel they’re treated equally and are valued regardless of whether they prefer working remotely, on-site or a mix of both.
This is key to employee engagement and productivity so getting it right is important and comes down to building trust. This is true of building trust between colleagues as well as trusting each member of the team to deliver what’s expected without being micro-managed.
Empowering employees to approach tasks in their own way, whilst knowing that support is there should they need it, will encourage each person to work autonomously and be measured on key deliverables without needing to be watched or hand-held along the way.
- Communication often and effectively
In keeping with the point above, communication is a big factor in building trust and not micro-managing. Too many meetings hamper productivity and can make employees feel like they’re being watched. Understanding the different working styles of each of your team and accommodating these individual styles as much as possible will go a long way in empowering your teams to deliver what is required of them.
Ask for regular feedback as a group on what the best way to communicate with them is. Consider the best forms of group communication and one to one sessions and create a positive environment that allows employees to communicate with each other.
- Create opportunities for meaningful interaction
Interaction has and always be a significant part of an effective team, but it can be more challenging in a hybrid setting. This means leaders need to be proactive in creating avenues for teams to interact meaningfully as well as productively.
Meaningful interaction could include a weekly round up of what people are doing over the weekend, slots in meetings to discuss things other than work and possibly even allocating a day per month where the whole team gets together in person for a team lunch or social occasion. All of these interactions no matter how small help to foster a sense of togetherness and allow people to connect with each other on a more human level.
- Embrace technology
With people working from different locations and potentially different times, maximising tools that support collaboration, goal tracking and productivity is key. One of the biggest advantages of technology in the modern workplace is that there is a solution for almost every business challenge.
There are a huge range of different platforms with different benefits so start by identifying what you need from a piece of software and once you start using it, make sure everyone is fully competent so you’re all making the best use of the features it offers.
The key to hybrid working is flexibility and finding the right balance. This is true of the level of remote working, in person sessions, collaborative and independent working. Getting regular feedback from your team and reviewing what’s working well and where improvements are needed will help everyone work with agility and autonomy.
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