Hybrid is here to stay
The COVID-19 pandemic has introduced rapid changes to our environment, practices and behaviours and has forced many organisations to adopt remote or hybrid working to manage their operations. As returning to the office full time becomes an option, it is tempting to think things will go back to the way they were before. Hybrid and remote working has had a significant impact on both leaders and their people. This way of working is here to stay and here’s why:
- Flexible work practices are becoming more widespread and seen as standard practice rather than an additional benefit. Employees and job seekers are looking for more control over where and when they work.
- Collectively we are developing a wider understanding of how work and personal life intertwines. Where once you may have advised an employee to leave their personal lives at the door, we now know that being able to bring your whole self to work improves the overall wellbeing and satisfaction of our people. The last few years of online and at home working has opened a wormhole into our personal lives that we can’t close back up again. The ability to flow in and out of work and life is important to many people, and hybrid working can support this.
- Employees have consistently shown the office environment isn’t the key to performance, rather a tool they use for connecting and collaborating. Just like there are benefits from working together in the office, there are many benefits from working at home that our people won’t want to lose or give up.
- The talent market is very competitive. Hybrid and remote can open new opportunities. Seeking out people in new locations expands your talent pool and demonstrates your fluency in hybrid working, which is still currently a competitive advantage.
With hybrid and remote working here to stay, it’s time to rethink how you lead and foster your people in these environments.
Foundations for hybrid working; trust and intention
The foundation of strong teams and of any great relationship is trust. Trust is needed more than ever, now that we’re not always physically together. Working remotely can feel like you are missing one of your senses. Not being able see and hear what is going on for each other, or see body language and other behavioural gestures, can leave people guessing and building their own narratives. As a team leader, you need to assume positive intent with your people, and trust that your team members are delivering on what is expected of them. Inversely your team members need to feel safe in being open with you, able to come with questions, look for support and know that you will be there to help. Building trust starts with vulnerability. A key part of this is moving beyond transactional relationships to connecting human to human. It requires going beyond the surface level, being willing to share first about how you are feeling, what is having an impact on you, and how you are looking to overcome challenges. Being open about not knowing all the answers and admitting mistakes when they are made.
Where once leaders might have been able to share vision, build culture, and develop people through proximity, being in different locations requires leaders to be intentional and deliberate in their actions. With incidental connection reduced, opportunities must be deliberately created to ensure your employee are connected with your purpose, are able to build strong relationships with others, have opportunities to learn and grow from their mentors and peers, and have the ability to effectively contribute to and participate in work life, no matter where or when they do that from.
Rethinking how you lead
With trust and intention established as your building blocks, it's important to consider your end users. Your employees. They are your greatest source of knowledge on what empowers and motivates them to contribute within a hybrid or remote working environment. Before jumping to solutions, gain their understanding of what’s working well and where any gaps and opportunities lie. Then engage them in the process, designing with them rather than for. We’ve broken down the hybrid and remote working environment into four key areas for you to explore with your people.