Should your team be working from home or in the office? Or a mix of locations? Hopefully the answer to this question will – very soon – be able to be determined solely by an organisation of its own accord rather than because of a need to follow Covid-19 guidelines.
But even before the pandemic, a hybrid set-up – with some people working remotely, while others work at home – was becoming more popular, allowing organisations to expand their hiring pool, give people significantly more flexibility and enable a better work-life balance for employees.
If a hybrid workforce is new for your organisation (and even if it’s not), management are likely to be facing some challenges when it comes to streamlining processes and ensuring that their team is able to work together effectively. So, how can organisations create a sustainable hybrid work environment?
Agile attitudes important in a state of flux
Regardless of home-working policies during Covid-19, organisations are undoubtedly likely to have changed in some ways as management have learned to deal with this ‘new normal’.
This is actually likely to be the biggest takeaway from the pandemic – learning to cope with an environment that is always in flux.
Maintaining an agile attitude and adapting as quickly as possible is one of the most important qualities to have right now. Organisations that have been able to keep building and maintaining their teams, helping them develop an agile attitude as well along the way, will be helping to future-proof their business.
In terms of where people are – and will be – able to work, examples are beginning to mount up of organisations announcing that they will allow people will keep working from home (no matter how government guidelines further change).
Regardless of whether people work from home all the time, or come into the office for part of the week, the likelihood is that people will expect a more flexible work environment. If you are managing a team, you will have to adapt to that expectation.
Five tips on the journey to hybrid working
There are numerous things that organisations can to adapt to hybrid working. Here are five tips to help with that journey:
- Keep everyone connected. Beyond finding a way to give at-home workers what they need without typical resources an office comes with, it’s also about keeping them connected with their in-office counterparts and making sure their work is cohesive.
- Be very clear about objectives. And continue to hold everyone accountable for their part in working towards those objectives. Everyone needs to understand what is expected of them, regardless of their location. Just because you might be in the same room as someone else, it doesn’t mean you should expect more of them. Likewise, if someone is working from home, it’s important to ensure that they aren’t feeling left out of the equation.
- Support collaboration. Make sure that, if they need it, remote workers have people in the office they can rely on to check in with them for their contributions. Or, hold all of your meetings virtually so everyone can be present. Also, make sure you determine what work is best suited to an office environment, and what work is ideal for a remote one.
- Be a strong leader. The usual characteristics of a top-notch leader apply here: empathy, setting clear expectations and effective communication. Create a solid foundation of trust and empower all of your employees.
- Stay focused on performance management. Anytime an organisation or a team is about to try something new, it’s important to define where that journey should be leading to. Again, that means defining goals and how to measure success. You might want to consider asking yourself questions about how well you are leveraging your teams, both in-office and remote, or how people are performing as individuals when it comes to agility. You want to be able to get a sense of the engagement from your entire team, and make sure everyone is working effectively together.
This shift to a new reality as the world hopefully moves beyond Covid restrictions will be challenging for many. But there’s no reason it can’t also be rewarding, both for the organisation as a whole and for each individual employee.
That’s why agility is so important. Organisations should be able to take on those challenges with a positive attitude, shift as needed and keep forging ahead.