If your office currently looks like the Mary Celeste, then you’re not alone. Whilst the Covid-19 pandemic has increased the speed with which the hybrid working model was catapulted into our daily working lives, in truth, it’s possibly just pressed the fast forward button on something that was happening anyway.
Hybrid Working Challenges
For many businesses right now and looking into the near future, a hybrid model of office management is a realistic option. With restrictions lifting and vaccinations in place, leaders are facing a new reality of leading a hybrid workforce.
Integrating a physical workplace with a digital one, isn’t that challenging. The majority of businesses are already working with cloud technology and the idea of online meetings is no longer outlandish but the norm. That said, both managers and employees are used to having a physical location where they can connect and collaborate.
Managing a Hybrid Workplace
When it comes to adapting to a hybrid workplace, many organisations have found their staff are overall happier and more productive. The one big difference with remote working is the leadership skills and style of managers and those who ensure good virtual management practices within a hybrid workplace.
Leaders must balance differing employee preferences while keeping everyone on the same page, but a hybrid workplace also holds the potential for increased creativity and innovation.
Virtual Leadership Skills
Undoubtedly managers have had to adapt to virtual leadership skills. Heightened listening and communication skills are essential in the virtual environment. You don’t always have the luxury of seeing people and reading their posture, body language or tone.
In discussions, virtual leaders need to know when a face-to-face session is needed, or a more in-depth conversation is required. Putting people first has been key throughout the pandemic, mindful that not every meeting has to be about something. Checking on members of their team and finding what out makes them tick, has been a key area and builds trust with staff.
It may or may not have come as surprise to find that many employees who work remotely are actually more productive than when in a physical office. Measuring productivity in milestones, work delivered, or goals achieved may be better than simply the number of hours worked. Giving more flexible working hours comes with the need to set clear expectations of these goals and milestones with regular reviews to follow up.
Developing an ownership culture through coaching can also encourage high performance and maintain or increase productivity.
The dangerous point of remote working is the ‘remoteness’. In order to avoid employees feeling alone or disconnected, it’s imperative to foster engagement between team members and virtual team collaboration. Encouraging communication as a team is vital for feedback and development and of course for celebrating and sharing achievements.
Facilitating inclusion throughout your hybrid workforce and ensuring everyone’s needs are met no matter where they are based is fundamental.
What does your hybrid work model look like?
A hybrid working model provides a powerful tool and demonstrates that the investments made in robust processes pay off. A good hybrid model allows leaders, teams and individuals to step up, especially in challenging moments. Leaders need to acknowledge a new and different environment but recognise that what works for one person will not work for everyone.
As the hybrid model moves forward, now is the time for processes and leadership skills to become more proactive rather than reactive. This includes the necessity of hybrid workforce policies and how effectively managers can lead hybrid and virtual teams is key.
Organisations and businesses have demonstrated time and time again during this pandemic how quickly they can change and how well they are able to withstand change. There really are no limits other than those we construct ourselves.View the Blog