The pandemic has changed the shape of the workplace indefinitely. With so many employees now used to working remotely, the demand for flexible working options is at the highest it’s ever been.
Furthermore, businesses are realising the benefits of hybrid working solutions particularly when it comes to engagement levels, work life balance and attracting top talent. This had led to a record number of organisations allowing their employees to adopt a flexible approach to where they work from.
Organisations across a range of sectors including financial services firms PWC and KPMG, recruitment search engine Indeed and designers ARUP have all announced they’ll be allowing flexible working options in the long-term, meaning employees can adopt a mix of onsite and remote working.
While there is no written rule book on the best way to adopt a hybrid working model, here are some key things to consider when managing a hybrid team.
Having the right systems and software in place is key to enabling hybrid workers to perform at their best. With people working in different locations, it’s important they have the tools to be able to collaborate and communicate effectively. From messaging apps, video conferencing platforms, and shared files/documents, to a solid and secure Wifi connection, these are all are essential things to consider when setting your hybrid team up for success. Get feedback from your employees on their experience of using different platforms, find out what is working well and what needs simplifying. This will make for an easier long-term solution to hybrid working.
- Foster a strong culture
Something that’s hard to instill in a remote workforce is a strong sense of company culture, yet research shows that feeling connected to a company and its purpose is good for productivity, wellbeing and employee engagement. It’s important that regardless of whether people are working on or offsite, everyone is treated equally and that they’re empowered and trusted to perform their duties. Part of establishing a strong sense of culture will involve redefining what that looks and feels like in a hybrid setting. Getting teams involved in this process and asking for feedback is a good way to get their buy in from the start. Think about which values, behaviours and practices best represent your organisation and demonstrate these from the top down.
- Communication is Key
Effective communication should be the number one priority when it comes to managing a hybrid team. Done properly and co-workers will feel engaged, work collaboratively, and feel part of the team. Done wrong and presenteeism will rise, company culture will be diluted, and the productivity will decline. Using a mixture of communication channels will help to ensure everyone, regardless of where they are working is kept up to date. Think about how you’re communicating with those in the office and those working remotely and ask yourself whether everyone is getting the same level of attention. In meetings, ensure that everyone has a voice and make time to interact with people on an individual level.
- Schedule physical meet ups
There is no substitute for meeting face to face and how it makes people feel, so businesses are beginning to think about how best to utilise their office space for physical meetings. Many feel that the office is best suited for collaboration and ideas sessions whilst remote work is useful for tasks that require concentration. The human connection also plays a vital part in the overall wellbeing and performance of the team so planning sessions that allow teams to reconnect, get creative and socialise is an important element of managing a hybrid workforce. How this will look depends on the nature of the business but there’s nothing wrong with some trial and error in the early days.
- Upskilling managers and leaders
Leading a hybrid workforce force effectively will be new territory for many managers. While many were forced to adapt quickly during the pandemic, if it is to work in the long-term then businesses will need to upskill their management team with new skills and approaches. So much has changed in the last 18 months including the expectations employees have of their management teams, so investing in regular leadership training to keep up with these changing demands will ensure leaders and managers are able to get the best from their people. Effective management will give employees the confidence to thrive in this new way of working and they’ll feel that support is there if and when they need it.
Whilst hybrid working isn’t new, the scale at which businesses are beginning to adopt more flexible working models certainly is.
In such a candidate driven market, it’s becoming more important for businesses to respond to these demands in order to attract and retain the best talent.
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