How to Make Hybrid Working a Success

How to Make Hybrid Working a Success

How to Make Hybrid Working a Success

Almost every day during Executive Coaching and Mentoring sessions or on global webinars, I am asked the question, ‘how can we make our hybrid working a success?’  So here are some thoughts and tips gleaned over the past two years from researching the topic extensively, writing about it, and from speaking to global leaders and their teams across most sectors.

Since restrictions around Covid-19 eased, between 70% – 80% of organisations globally have reportedly moved to a hybrid working model.  This involves office workers physically going into the office either one to four days a week, or once a fortnight for a team meeting, or possibly only once a month for a project meeting, for example.  Hybrid working tends to involve the majority of office staff working from home or remotely, such as from a café, most of the time. 

Over the past two years during the pandemic, there has been a lot of coverage in the press around organisations who have forced their employees back into the office, only to suffer a backlash with a rise in resignations or demands for higher wages.  Indeed, in 2021 the phrase the Great Resignation was coined and continues to hit the headlines globally, as reportedly around three quarters of workers are actively looking to change roles.  In 2021 in the UK research from FlexJobs suggested that only 3% of employees wanted to work in an office full-time!

There are many other interesting statistics around the impact of not offering a hybrid working model, such as on average between 60% - 90% of workers wanting to work in a hybrid way; most of these individuals will then state that they would be happy if their company told them to work remotely 100% of the time.  Indeed, if your organisation is suffering from increased attrition, or you are struggling to recruit, then you will be aware of the demands being made by many staff and candidates whilst the jobs market remains healthy. 

In general, the pandemic and the resultant acceleration in digital transformation, has meant that most office workers have adapted to working remotely.  Despite the initial shock, blame, confusion, and even feelings of isolation and depression as they travelled along the Change Curve, most workers can see the enormous benefits; these include spending less time and money by not commuting, as well as being able to enjoy more of a work/life balance.  Similarly, working parents want to be able to do the school run and no one wants to have to take a day off work to be at home to have their boiler repaired.

Before you introduce a hybrid model or make it compulsory, the key is to ask what your employees really want and need.  You can do this through anonymous engagement and pulse surveys.  It’s then important for leaders, people managers, and HR to act on the data and to role model good behaviours, such as not emailing 24/7, not holding back to back online meetings, taking their annual leave, and running hybrid meetings from their home too.  Here are a few of the most common desires from employees:

  • Much more freedom and flexibility around working hours and taking leave
  • Great technology in the office, including excellent video conferencing for hybrid meetings
  • Great technology at home with even some home bills being paid by the company, such as broadband and telephone
  • Branded merchandise to make them feel a sense of identity, belonging, and inclusion
  • More regular and detailed communication from leaders around the organisations vision, purpose, and strategy
  • More empowerment and understanding how their role aligns  with the company’s vision and strategy
  • Access to free, confidential Counselling 24/7
  • High-touch support, whether from leaders, line managers, IT, or team members
  • Agreed boundaries and ways of working within teams
  • More annual leave
  • Increased paternity and maternity leave, even PETurnity leave
  • A 4-day week, which at the moment is seeing a rise in productivity
  • A strong employer brand, known for flexible working practices, teamwork, sustainability, and integrity
  • More ongoing training and development and a transparent and structured career path
  • No dual-structure of those in the office being favoured for projects or promotion
  • Meeting-free Fridays
  • Covid-secure offices
  • An inclusive culture with empathy and understanding for staff dealing with Long Covid or other health issues, or those caring for clinically vulnerable loved ones

Over the past two years we have witnessed unprecedented levels of change.  Of course, those individuals and organisations that have managed to adapt quickly have been more likely to succeed.  With the war in Ukraine, the cost of living crisis, and the negative impact of Brexit in the UK, more uncertain times lie ahead. 

Some organisations are already looking at ways to cut costs, such as by making managers redundant, by merging with competitors, by closing sites.  With a predicted recession looming, it will be interesting to see how the dynamics will shift again and whether employees will be able to continue calling the shots.  Similarly, when the novelty of a 4-day working week wears off, what will productivity levels look like?

What is certain, is that every organisation needs to balance it’s needs with those of their people, and to acknowledge that one size definitely does not fit all in a hybrid model.  So, if someone is happy working from home, then don’t force them back into the office, as they may well leave.  As I keep reminding clients and participants, hybrid working is nothing new.  As early as the late 1960s sales people apparently often worked from home and went into the head office once a fortnight or once per month for a Sales meeting.  Many global companies have been operating a hybrid model for years, as have tech start-ups.

‘I’m really not sure how we would have navigated the trials and tribulations of the pandemic without your incredible support and advice.  Your empathy and willingness to help out the team with so many varying challenges are often referenced in meetings.  Thank you again.’  CEO

You can read my eBook on Hybrid Leadership here and listen to my expert audio talks on this subject here.

About Jill Maidment

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