The CIPD previously described the progress made to flexible working over the last 10-15 years as ‘glacial’. Yet almost overnight, flexible working turned tidal, with remote and ‘hybrid’ or ‘agile’ working becoming the new normal. Roles previously considered unsuitable for flexible or homeworking have now been successfully undertaken for a sustained period; with both employers and employees recognising the benefits.
Newfound attitudes and expectations are leading organisations to consider hybrid working longer-term and its implications. On our recent webinar, 100% of respondents saw hybrid working as the future of work.
Undoubtedly, this change will require significant practical and cultural changes. So, what can organisations be doing now to plan for the future of hybrid working and ensure it is sustainable?
Whilst the Government has announced that homeworking will continue until late June at the earliest, organisations should be taking steps now to prepare for this transition. The CIPD outlines several steps which cover both short-term and longer-term practices. In the short-term, they highlight the need to have established safety measures in place. Perhaps by defining office occupancy levels, and determining which roles should be prioritised for the office return. There may also be implications for technology and equipment where there needs to be ease of connectivity between the office and home.
Employers have a responsibility for addressing any anxieties that people may have about returning to the office; even on a part-time basis. Understandably, many will be anxious about the return. Extended leave can conjure up fears after a long holiday, or maternity leave, let alone a global pandemic. By holding regular one-to-one’s, this will provide a great opportunity for asking open questions that could flag these concerns now rather than waiting until the summer. Mental health and wellbeing are at the top of the agenda, so it is important to be aware of what employees are experiencing and offering them the support they need in a remote/hybrid workplace.
Homeworking and hybrid working certainly make it harder to observe employee performance. Instead of time spent in the office, organisations must consider whether their existing performance management systems and processes have been fit for purpose over the last 12 months? They should be asking whether they have had real visibility of outcomes aligned to objectives, and whether they have been able to identify and reward recognition? If not, now is the time for organisations to consider an alternative provider.
This time last year, concerns were held for managing teams remotely and the mechanics behind effective homeworking. One year on and the reverse is being seen, with uncertainties around effective management styles and productivity levels in a hybrid workplace. As such, employers should develop communication plans to share detailed expectations and offer training to support managers in building an effective and cohesive team in a hybrid workplace.
By doing so, managers can help to ‘form a powerful guiding coalition’, one of the key elements in Kotter’s 8 step change model for implementing change successfully. By providing managers with the support and confidence they need to manage their teams in a hybrid workplace, will allow them to champion hybrid working and help build confidence amongst their teams, and allow for a smooth transition from homeworking to hybrid.If you are interested in finding out how our training programmes can support your managers in dealing with change and managing teams in a remote/hybrid workplace, find out more below.
Part of our ethos is to help build a better workplace for people, whatever their location. We achieve this through great performance management software, the HR Uprising Podcast, and a variety of free thought leadership resources. Therefore, if you would like to learn more about this topic, you can find some additional resources below.