One of the biggest changes to come about, in relation to work, during and after the pandemic has no doubt been how we all work. Although initially it was a necessity, many teams and organisations have found that new ways of working have benefitted both parties and worked better than could have been imagined.
However, it is important that hybrid working is well thought out and managed, to ensure it continues to work well and bring benefits to both. In this guide we cover some of the main areas to consider, and is based on experience from our many clients and also research from the world of HR.
How Can We Make It Work?
One of the best ways to do this is to involve your teams in defining what hybrid could/should look like and how it will be managed. Those who have adapted so well over the last 2 years are best placed to work with leadership teams to define this and also measure success over time.
In small organisations this could involve everyone, in bigger organisations this may involve working groups with a good variety of members in terms of roles, responsibilities and demographics. Some of the aspects to be discussed could include:
- Consider what worked well during the compulsory work from home period, and what aspects of this should be kept and built on in the new model. Which aspects need to be captured in policy, procedure and guidance documents.
- Similarly of course, what did not work as well and needs changing/ solving for long term hybrid to be successful.
- Are there any negatives or risk to doing this long term? One of the most commonly cited concerns is the loss of collaboration, team work and learning from each other. This doesn’t rule out home working, but as with the above, consideration should be given as to how they can be overcome.
- How will hybrid work best in terms of how often the team needs to be in the office? Not only in relation to the points above but also to meet client/customer needs and other stakeholders.
- How can we ensure that our way of hybrid working is inclusive, fair and a healthy way to work. (see below)
It is then wise to agree how the effectiveness will be measured and monitored. Many organisations are still working in a hybrid way as a trial while it is decided if it can become a permanent change.
As with all aspects of the employment relationship, it is vital that hybrid working is fair, and felt to be fair to all. This means making sure that ways of work are inclusive to all and take into account the needs of all groups.
This includes how people are managed (more detail below) and how they are supported and trained in order to be effective in their roles in this new way of working. This may be easier for some groups than others, and this must be considered and accounted for.
Implementation of robust policy, procedure and guidance
It may well be that it’s changed more often as it becomes the new norm but having a policy and procedure for what hybrid means to your organisation and how it is implemented is crucial. This will ensure consistency of approach in terms of fairness and inclusivity and leaves no grey areas. Guidance is also important, for team members and those who have people management responsibilities.
Tips for Managing Hybrid Teams
One of the essentials for effective hybrid working is excellent communication. If teams are not going to be together in the workplace, then it is crucial that everyone has the information they need to do their role, and continue feeling part of the organisation and engaged with their purpose.
As with the first section of this guide, discuss with teams the best ways to communicate as a whole and also with individuals. You may want to consider more regular 1-2-1 time with individual team members, and team meetings.
When you do not see team members and colleagues as often, then it is harder to be sure of their wellbeing. Although hybrid working can have huge benefits for work life balance, it can also have risks if people are not able to separate work and home. Managers may need to help people to disconnect from work, and it will be crucial that managers are good role models for this.
It will be essential for managers to manage by output / objectives, rather than time spent. Managers need to be clear on desired results and outcomes for team members and provide regular feedback.
Finally, do not forget the social side that we may well miss as we do not see team members every day. Make sure not all conversation is purely work related and allow for social time – whether that is face to face or if needs be, online.