L&D Strategy • Mar 3rd
The shift to hybrid working
Written by Claire Coughlan
In light of recent announcements from the government, with a clear directive on the expected timeframe and framework for coming out of lockdown and once again, adjusting the way in which families and communities live, those directly responsible for the people agenda in businesses are beginning to explore what this may look like, the impact of the last 12 months and how they can help their people to remain engaged, well and productive in the workplace.
Depending on your perspective, the journey into, through and out of the pandemic has been very different for everyone involved and the role which HR has visibly played supporting on a practical, emotional and operational level has been pivotal to the health and well-being of many organisations employees.
With a timetable out of the current restrictions on the horizon, HR find themselves centre stage once again, tasked with creating their own roadmap for change. So what could this look like?
The appetite for hybrid working
The COVID-19 crisis has shifted the way we live and work. Overnight, businesses have had to adapt to ensure they protect their people whilst remain productive. Along the way, many organisations which were culturally tied to more traditional ways of working, found their people to be just as committed and capable (if not more so) in this new environment. On the opposite side of the fence, we see that many have missed the social benefits that face-to-face interaction provides and the opportunity to connect on a more personal level with colleagues, leaders and clients.
This of course, is only part of the story, but it demonstrates how much has changed in society and that if operating models are to remain relevant, then hybrid working should be taken seriously.
A recent Boston Consulting Group (BCG) study of 2,000 UK employees revealed that 67% of those working remotely since COVID-19 want to be able to split their time between the physical workplace and home working in the future.
Demonstrating that resolution towards a blended way of working comes with its own set of challenges which any plan needs to take into account, including:
- Differing priorities across manager and leaders and how to unite them under a common banner of communication and collaboration, which will provide employees, clients and the wider business community confidence in a more vulnerable economic climate
- The geographical impact of hybrid working, which has been a key factor in the need to continue to invest in appropriate digital technologies and provide appropriate levels of skills training to maximise the return on investment associated with this
- Where the pandemic has exposed opportunities to improve on the culture of an organisation, to get the commitment from C-Suite and the resources to protect the business from unforeseen future threats.
- How to retain and attract the talent needed for long-time growth. Graduates who have missed out on development, those who have become jaded by corporate life and professionals coming towards the end of their working lifecycle; what is the long-term impact this shift will have on these and many others within our workforce?
The last 12 months has seen businesses experientially learn what works for them when it comes to flexible working. Where organisations have been focused on a range of people and productivity outcomes, leaders have inadvertently created a precedent for what this hybrid way of working could look and feel like in the future. With clear measures of success in place and an openness to continue to evolve, then the future for hybrid working could be very bright. You may want to consider:
- Re-engineering the workspace to encourage collaboration within and across teams. Having a ‘one’ approach run through the spine of all divisions to enhance creative problem solving, generate fresh ideas and increase unity.
- Supporting leaders and managers in continuing to communicate with their teams. Develop a clear communication plan with your people, identifying ‘How, What, Where, When and Why’ associated with it
- Alongside a communication plan, encourage managers to prioritise regular check-ins with their people and help them to spot any early warning signs within themselves and others where they may not be coping.
- Expanding the breadth of initiatives which have a direct impact on people’s well-being. Regular lunch and learn sessions on topics such as remote team working, how to get a better night’s sleep, the importance of taking regular breaks as well as wider initiatives such as sabbatical breaks and job swaps are practical ways of supporting people as they continue to adjust.
- Including a wider group of opinion beyond the leadership team in the identification, development and implementation of local initiatives. Form working parties in that re-engineered space (see point 1) and encourage them to voice their expertise for the good of their colleagues
The scope the challenge ahead is only partially visible and businesses have responded and adjusted, demonstrating enormous reserves of resilience in the face of constant change.
The economical, social and political implications will be debated for a long time to come, yet along with uncertainty comes hope, that through positive intent and combined efforts, we can take action to balance the fragility that comes with making a shift towards a more permanent state of hybrid working.
Want to find out how Bodhi Consultancy can help your organisation create and implement a strategy that will ensure your people remain productive during challenging times? Contact us to find out how.