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 three years from researching the topic extensively, writing about it, and from speaking to global leaders and their teams across most sectors.

When restrictions around Covid-19 eased, globally between 70% – 80% of organizations 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 four years since the start of the pandemic, there has been a lot of coverage in the press around organizations who have forced their employees back into the office, only to suffer a backlash with a rise in resignations or demands for higher wages.  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 organization 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 relatively healthy. Indeed, you may have seen recent posts on social media which show less than twenty applicants for a senior role which is 100% office-based.  Conversely, this was compared to a very similar position that was 100% remote and there were many hundreds of applicants.

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 during the first lockdowns, 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 wishes to have to take a day off work to be at home to have their boiler repaired.

Nowadays the demographic of those in work is complex, as are their wish-lists.  You may still have some Baby Boomers working in your organization, or some who have returned to part-time work due to the pressure on their pensions due to the cost of living crisis.  Alongside those workers who are over sixty, you may have people from Generation Z who are in their twenties and have very different goals and ambitions to their colleagues.  Generation X now make up a third of the workforce, with the Millennials constituting a similar percentage; reports suggest that these two generations are delaying having children, which means that often they are also caring for elderly parents at the same time as raising their own families.  Add in to these already complex home/life challenges, the global surge in cancer amongst those under fifty, along with cases of Long Covid, and the rise in mental health issues, and you can understand more fully why so many workers need more flexibility and the option of working remotely.

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
  • Complete clarity around roles and responsibilities, particularly within a matrix management structure
  • 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 organizations vision, purpose, strategy, and finances
  • 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 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
  • An inclusive culture with empathy and understanding for staff dealing with Long Covid or other health issues, or those with caring responsibilities

Over the past four years we have witnessed unprecedented levels of change.  Of course, those individuals and organizations that have managed to adapt quickly and continue to be agile are more likely to succeed in an increasingly volatile, uncertain, and complex world.  With the wars in Ukraine and Gaza, the challenging geopolitical situation, the cost of living crisis, and the negative impact of Brexit in the UK in particular, more uncertain times lie ahead. 

Many organizations continue to look at ways to cut costs, such as by making managers redundant, by merging with competitors, by closing sites, and by embracing the advance of AI.  The work dynamics will keep shifting and the economic situation means that employees may not be able to continue calling the shots; indeed, reports suggest that the Great Resignation is over.  

What is certain, is that every organization has 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 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.  Our Hybrid Model is now working perfectly.  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

If you would like to know more about this subject or to book any of the following, please contact me:

Executive Coaching and Mentoring, Career and Transition Coaching, Business Coaching, Resilience Coaching, Life Coaching 

Leadership Training, High Performance Leadership Development, Management Training, Leadership and Management Team Development, Facilitated Away Days and Strategic Offsites, Group Coaching

Executive Assessment, 360 Feedback, Face to Face 360 Feedback, Talent Management and Succession Planning