For significant culture-wide shifts to successful hybrid working, we first need to make leadership shifts in our mindset and approach. Here's what industry leaders recommend we change in our leadership approach:
Trust more. The idea that you need to see people for a set part of each working week in order for them or the company to be productive and profitable disappeared with the first Covid variant.
Challenge employees’ thinking – and actively listen to ideas to do things differently. I’ve seen several instances recently of leaders referencing ‘getting back to normal’ in terms of being in the office every day or talking about ‘improving’ office occupancy, which I think is the wrong way to look at it. We’ve been given this amazing opportunity to make work really fit our lives and make us happier in our work (which is a win/win especially as we know that a happy workforce is a productive workforce) so let’s grab it! The employees of tomorrow want a job that enables them to live a fulfilling life and I don’t think 9-5 in the office five days a week features high on their wish list. In my view, if leaders want to attract and retain the best people, they need to embrace hybrid working. Leading in a hybrid world is the same as an office-based world – you may just need to find the most effective way to reach and communicate with employees in order to inspire them.
I’ve always started any role by trusting the team from the start while there might be leaders who need trust to be earned or developed over time. By treating team members as adults and humans with lives outside of work, this helps to lay the foundation of deep trust and relationships. Work should be outcome-based rather than the amount of time that is being spent 'working'. Forcing people to come to the office with the notion that 'you have to be in the office to work' is counterproductive. This not only alienates the team member, but there’s also no guarantee that the team member is actually working unless you sit by their screen the entire time. Think about why the team should come into the office; what benefits does it bring to the team or the organisation?
I think adopting an agile style and growth mindset is critical. Through employee conversations, we’ve learned of amazing and creative ideas that can advance our workplace of the future. I think some ideas may fail and we will all have to be willing to shift as needed. I also believe that different types of roles and teams will require and desire different approaches. There is definitely not a one size fits all, but for sure build alongside your teams vs. making decisions in a vacuum.
It comes down to trusting your team. We need to get over the old notion that the office is the most productive place and acknowledge that remote working is just as productive.
Effective communication has always been important, and now we're expanding the boundaries of the amount and style of communication needed, and also our pulse on project management. There are so many tools for this, and leaders need to stay open minded about using them. Pen and paper are simply obsolete.
Leaders need to find the right balance between effectively project managing and trust. You don’t need to track mouse clicks in order to measure efficiency.
Need help with your hybrid strategy?
Our upcoming course Leading Hybrid Teams provides you with practical tools to handle the most common challenges of hybrid working including communication, productivity, engagement, inclusivity, and conflict.
We’ll also provide you with:
+ practical tips
+ wealth of research
+ practical examples
+ other leaders’ insights
+ space to network
Here's what our recent attendee thinks about this course:
"The course offered a range of practical tools for identifying and addressing the new issues arising from hybrid teams and blended working, and also provided a very accessible over-view of the academic thinking that supported the approaches discussed, which was helpful and thought-provoking. Like many managers, I'd postponed thinking too much about this, in the vague expectation of a return to the 'normality' of 2019...that's clearly not going to happen. Presented in a very clear manner, with good interaction/rapport with the vc/remote audience. Many thanks"
Book your place here: Leading Hybrid Teams