Many of us have been working from home now for two years.
Some of us have loved it and want it to continue.
Others have tolerated it and can’t wait to get back into the office at least part of the week.
Most of us it seems, want some kind of hybrid working. We want to work from home some of the time. But we also want to visit the office occasionally, perhaps once, twice, or three times per week.
So are we getting hybrid working right?
Employers have been considering what needs to change as their workforces gradually transition back to the office. HR professionals have been getting their heads around new ways of working to make hybrid work for their businesses and the people they employ. Adapting how we recruit, develop and motivate our staff to get the best from them has become all-important. As has recognising mental ill-health and supporting employee well-being. Careful consideration of the policies, procedures, and processes has been needed to optimise productivity whilst creating an inclusive workplace culture.
As we are all realising, getting hybrid working right requires different thinking.
In this blog, I share my top three considerations for creating the right culture for hybrid working to work brilliantly for you.
Create human connection
We all require a deeper level of connection than is possible through transactional communications alone. As Brene Brown puts it,
“We are hardwired for connections, curiosity and engagement”
Did you know that when working from the same office space we spend at least 8% of our time socialising?
By ‘socialising’ I mean forming the connections that allow successful collaborations and creative problem solving to flourish. Such opportunities can be missed when we don’t all work together in the same place at the same time. Conscious efforts are needed to recreate opportunities for connection and we must lead by example to avoid communications becoming superficial. We need to generate a feeling of camaraderie for everyone whether working physically in the same space or remotely. Projects must be organised so people have adequate opportunities to bounce ideas off each other, virtually and/or in real life.
Have you considered different ways to connect with your co-workers? How you can foster a great sense of community? Can you build opportunities for everyone to interact, regardless of working patterns or location?
If there’s one thing the last two years have shown me it’s that getting hybrid working right requires an element of over-communication. And it’s important to create the time and space for better quality conversations to take place.
Create positive energy
Our energy is enhanced through uplifting, invigorating, and rejuvenating relationships: such relational energy helps create positive and productive working environments.
Team performance generally matches the energy within the team. Where there’s negative energy, teams perform significantly worse than those with positive energy. How mentally engaged staff are at work, how enthused they are about their jobs, and how willing they are to make extra effort, is largely determined by the type of energy generated when everyone works together.
If positive energy is transmitted when we’re in contact with each other, getting hybrid working right requires processes and time for people to get relational. To communicate and connect, not just because it’s a good thing because it will create positive energy, regardless of where people work from or when they work.
The most impactful way to connect and generate relational energy is face-to-face. When that’s not possible, hybrid workforces can continue to embrace MS Teams and Zoom to great effect. We just need to make sure we use the tech in ways that capture and enhance collective energy rather than drain it! It might not be quite the same as being in the room together but it can still be energy-boosting rather than energy-draining. And remember, a well-led Zoom meeting will knock spots off a poorly run face-to-face meeting any time!
Create a positive performance culture
Regular check-ins with staff are a quick win. Whether 30-minutes every day, 45-minutes a week, or an hour or so every month, it’s important to schedule these into your diary. Make a regular commitment whether you see people face-to-face regularly or not.
Try out these three steps from my e-book Savvy Performance Management
Establish clear expectations:
A clear understanding of what everyone is expected to accomplish is critical to motivation and satisfactory performance. Put yourself in each person’s shoes and ask:
- What am I supposed to do and how am I supposed to do it?
- How will I know when it’s done correctly?
- Do I have the resources I need?
- Can I prioritize my own activities?
- When and how will I get feedback?
Establish a routine:
Set up weekly or monthly team meetings to keep abreast of progress.
Face-to-face meetings with the whole team once or twice a year are also beneficial where that’s feasible.
They facilitate teambuilding and trust in a way that’s more difficult when workers don’t physically meet up. Wherever possible invest the time and resources to make this happen; the improved productivity will easily repay your investment. If logistically that doesn’t work, do it via Zoom or MS Teams instead.
Evaluate progress against goals and expectations:
Everyone needs a one-to-one with their manager at least every 6 weeks to review progress and receive feedback and support. Do these on days when you’re both in the office if you can although video or phone calls can also work well. This doesn’t need to be onerous. Make it part of your regular performance management process and never postpone or cancel unless absolutely unavoidable.
By establishing clear expectations, creating a performance management routine, and regularly evaluating progress against goals, you can be confident that performance is being managed effectively, issues are picked up early and all staff are supported to do a great job.
Hybrid working is here to stay
Although it can be more challenging to manage a hybrid setup, allowing your team to work varying hours, times, and locations brings mutual benefits.
The flexibility of a hybrid model helps more people access the labour market, stay in work, manage caring responsibilities and achieve a better work-life balance. It can also support enhanced employee engagement and wellbeing. Other important benefits include increased loyalty and commitment, higher job satisfaction, increased engagement, reduced absenteeism, better mental health, and improvements in performance, motivation, and productivity.
Are you getting hybrid working right?