How to 'Hybrid': Hybrid Working Tips for Employers
Animated image of people working in different locations

How to ‘Hybrid’: Tips to implement a hybrid working environment that works for everyone

Hybrid working was a phrase that few of us were familiar with prior to 2020.  Covid19 has seen huge changes in both how and where we work, and organisations are thinking about how to harness the best of these changes for the future.

For many, a mix of home and office working seems to be the answer.

Given that we will be navigating change and uncertainty for some time still to come, we’ve gathered together a few ideas to help with the planning and implementing a hybrid working culture in your organisation:

Trial Periods

Most organisations and their employees would benefit from trialling hybrid working during a period of greater stability to see how well it works for them. Following a trial, employers have the opportunity to learn, and tweak the setup as needed – rather than having to go through consultations at a later date.  

Whether you envisage hybrid working being for the short or longer term, managing teams and working together is more complex when you have a mix of people and locations. This will require a shift in culture and behavioural changes to maintain morale, a sense of community and support. These training videos will be a great support for your management teams throughout a period of change.

Help Build Relationships

Make sure that people feel included and aren’t overlooked.  This isn’t only about managers checking in with their teams, but teams checking in with each other and working together.

Remember those ‘chance conversations’ that happened at the end of meetings, by the kettle or bumping into someone in the corridor?  You can encourage this to take place naturally by engaging people in collaborative projects where they can work together across different teams and meet up in ways that work for them.  This will enable them to have more natural conversations and build closer relationships than whole team zoom meetings or zoom coffees.

The added benefit is that people will develop not only their understanding of each other through these experiences but also develop their skills. The result? Your organisation will benefit from greater diversity of thought and perspective.

A Note on New Starters

New starters will need more socialisations built into their induction to the organisation in a hybrid working structure.  Creating opportunities for them to shadow others and participate in a wide range of meetings or projects will help them to build relationships and gain a better understanding of how the organisation works. Knowing who they can turn to for any support is also key.

Hybrid Conflict

A digital world can lead to things being misinterpreted easily – make sure people are still having conversations and still know who they can turn to if things aren’t going well for them. Managers should acknowledge people’s feelings (even if they don’t necessarily agree with them), make space for quieter people to have their say, encourage different points of view and healthy debate – but make clear the constructive ways of doing so.

Communication Must be More Intentional

Because people in a hybrid working environment are less interlinked, they will need reminding more often of how what they do connect with everyone else, and the success of the organisation. 

Business leaders and managers can do this by bringing the organisation’s goals to life – and illustrating what ‘the big picture’ is – and what this means for people’s work.  Conscious consideration to the method and timing of communication will help to ensure that everyone feels included and the messaging lands consistently. 

Have you experienced ‘slack stress’? With so many methods of communication now being used – fatigue is setting in. But, the good news is that there are some great examples of teams now formally agreeing how they will use email, Teams and systems like Slack to communicate. If technology is being used for communication and collaboration, then it makes sense to ensure that everyone knows how to use it properly.

Meetings & Presence Disparity

When team meetings take place with some employees who are sat together, but others attending remotely, this can result in ‘presence disparity’. Communication within the meeting and the experience of the meeting are very different.

So, if all cannot attend in person, consider everyone attending online to provide a consistent experience. 

Individuals and Inclusion

So much of what we have been talking about relates to teams of people and the organisation as a whole.  We mustn’t forget that these teams and the organisation are made up of individuals each with their own needs.

Acknowledging and supporting those individual needs is more important than ever when our working and personal lives have gone through so much change.  Making efforts to be truly inclusive enables people to do their best work in the best way for them.

Celebrating Success

A sense of fairness is also hugely important in maintaining motivation.  Communicating fair outcomes and avoiding ‘favourites’ will be a challenge when those who are not working in the office as much as others will miss out on the general day to day presence and observations of fair and unbiased treatment.  So take actions to make sure that people’s successes are celebrated.

This doesn’t necessarily mean dishing out rewards, simply giving people credit and thanks makes an impact.  Much harder is how to make sure that those who are ‘out of sight’ aren’t out of mind when business leaders are talking about development opportunities and succession plans.

We all know that old saying – “coaching is what happens when you are in the room but promotion is what happens when you aren’t”. One organisation has recently tasked its senior managers with talking about a different member of their remote working team every week to increase visibility and appreciation of the work that is done.

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