If you’re anything like us, you’ve learnt a lot over the last 17 months: how Zoom works, how viruses spread, how to make banana bread… And how you work best.
Because as spare bedrooms became boardrooms and kitchens the contact centre, we were forced to take a closer look at how we work. We had to find a way to juggle life alongside work, without the natural division made by commutes, offices and schools. And this happened to everyone – from CEOs to admin assistants.
Which means now is the perfect time to update your business’s approach to working styles.
Enter hybrid working
Hybrid is the Rubik’s cube of working styles: some people in the office, some at home, and every combination in between. Which means your organisation needs an approach (and an attitude) that’s as flexible as the term.
But the tricky thing with hybrid working is that it’s almost too flexible to pin down. Dictating a one-size-fits-all policy won’t cover the nuances. No, this working model needs cultural change as much as policy change.
Three key skills for hybrid working
If you joined us for our recent webinar, Hybrid Working: Develop a Powerful Vision that Works, you’ll know the success of hybrid working depends on three skills.
1. Build empathy
Inclusive hybrid environments are built on empathetic behaviours. But when you have to adapt and move fast – as we’ve all had to do over the last 17 months – it’s so easy to forget them.
Now’s the time to start flexing those empathy muscles again. Ask questions, hold regular check-ins, and share your gratitude and appreciation. Be honest with yourself and with your team, and open up. Above all: listen.
Employees want to be heard. We see fears and concerns around hybrid working emerge when people feel left out. People worry their employers will make big decisions about the future of work without considering their opinions and needs.
Yep, there’s a lot to get done. But slow down enough to talk, ask questions, and create a space where everyone is heard.
Think about: How can you amp up the empathy for your team?
2. Be inclusive
Hybrid working raises new questions and issues around belonging and inclusivity. ‘Present privilege’ (giving those in the office more opportunities and development) could become a big problem, and cliques may form based on location. Plus, systemic inequality will have an impact on how well people can work remotely. From cost barriers to household set-ups, there are many new factors to consider.
It’s more important than ever to remember that inclusivity requires action.
It’s not a passive mindset, and it’s certainly not a tick-box exercise. Leaders who prioritise inclusivity and work to build a sense of belonging for everyone will be best placed to realise the benefits that come with hybrid working. This almost certainly means you’ll need to put more emphasis on conscious inclusion. (Which you can read more about here.)
Think about: What conversations need to happen – and what do you need to do – to create more inclusion?
3. Nurture creativity
You’ve spent a long time constantly learning, changing and testing. And this takes a toll on your energy levels. Remember to take the time to recharge and re-set: you need the capacity to create and innovate.
Figure out what you need from your environment to be creative. Experiment with different techniques and routines to help you recharge. Maybe mimic your old commute by going for walks that bookend your day, or take a minute to re-set between meetings by practicing breathing exercises.
Likewise, remember to connect and communicate with your colleagues in a non-work setting. For example, recreate spontaneous office-kitchen conversations with virtual coffee-and-chat sessions.
Think about: What helps you feel creative and connected?
Tips for developing a hybrid work model
On top of developing empathy, inclusion and creativity, make sure to:
- Ensure leaders and senior executives role-model hybrid working, and actively avoid potential issues like present privilege.
- Start conversations with senior teams around inclusion for hybrid working, and use this to create clear, comprehensive policies and practices.
- Empower and train managers to support both their in-office and off-site reports. This is a vital step in building trust. Workshops on hybrid working and inclusivity may help.
- Let teams have a say in how they’ll return to work. For example, all coming in on the same day.
- Pay attention to your new starter experience. What works in the office may not cut it remotely.
- Keep conversations open: hold regular employee surveys to measure concerns and preferences.
- Ensure all employees have the support to work well remotely – whether that’s financial, technological, or from managers.
What can you do next?
People want lasting change. Which means your transition to hybrid working needs to be sustainable, inclusive, and open.
- Set boundaries effectively as a hybrid worker.
- Identify and build the most critical skills.
- Help your team adapt and thrive in a hybrid situation.
And if you’d like to know more about how we can help your organisation build an inclusive, sustainable hybrid model, get in touch for a chat.