Restrictions lifting | Bringing stability into unpredictable times

Bringing stability into unpredictable times

Say­ing the time since the start of the pan­dem­ic has been unknown ter­ri­to­ry would be a lit­tle bit of an under­state­ment. But now here we are, on the very cusp (in the UK, at least) of the lift­ing of legal restric­tions, and it’s final­ly time for us to face the next big work­place dis­rup­tion: hybrid working.

There has been a lot of dis­cus­sion over the past few months about hybrid work­ing. What are employ­ees look­ing for? How much office space do you need? How will we know that our peo­ple are still pro­duc­tive if they don’t come back to the office all the time? What­ev­er your major chal­lenges are, one thing is for cer­tain: hybrid work­ing means more ques­tions, more dis­rup­tion and more change. So wel­come to our short guide on how to bring sta­bil­i­ty to the organ­i­sa­tion in these unpre­dictable times.

Lis­ten to your teams

The peri­od of enforced home-work­ing we’ve been through has been longer than most of us would ever have expect­ed at the begin­ning. That has at least giv­en us plen­ty of time to start under­stand­ing how effec­tive remote work­ing is, and what the longer-term hope of employ­ees most like­ly is. Accord­ing to Microsoft’s Work Trends Index, 73% of employ­ees want remote work­ing to stay in one form or another.

It’s impor­tant for organ­i­sa­tions to under­stand that these are the expec­ta­tions peo­ple now have, and to ask (if you haven’t done so already) and lis­ten to your teams. Life has changed dra­mat­i­cal­ly for all of us in the past 18 months, and it is high­ly unlike­ly that sim­ply expect­ing every­body to return to the office full-time is going to be well received by every­body. And with 64% of employ­ees cur­rent­ly think­ing about leav­ing, now is not the time to roll out a poten­tial­ly dis­en­gag­ing pol­i­cy. As you build out your hybrid work­ing guid­ance to man­agers and employ­ees, be sure to rep­re­sent the needs of your peo­ple. Con­sid­er using a sur­vey tool to ask key ques­tions around expec­ta­tions before final­is­ing your approach.

Com­mu­ni­cate open­ly and honestly

With these changes there is bound to come a lot of uncer­tain­ty from staff. They might not know what is expect­ed of them now, when they can work from home and when they need to be in an office, if this is a per­son­al choice or enforced rules.

The key is to be as open, hon­est and clear with staff. Make sure your man­agers and HR staff are ful­ly aware of how your organ­i­sa­tion plans to approach hybrid work­ing. This could mean all staff do the same split between office and home, it could be the split is deter­mined by the role they have, or it could be left to best judg­ment of the employ­ee and their line manager.

What­ev­er your hybrid work­ing mod­el looks like, ensur­ing it is under­stood by your man­agers means that they can cor­rect­ly explain and enforce it with all of the work force. They should be well equipped to answer any ques­tions and address and con­cerns staff might have about their new way of working.

It’s not just about where and when

Although nat­u­ral­ly a lot of time and atten­tion when think­ing about hybrid work­ing is focussed on where and when employ­ees should be work­ing, it’s not the only – or arguably even the most impor­tant – consideration.

Now is the per­fect time to stand back from your organ­i­sa­tion, and real­ly exam­ine some of the process­es that define how the work is done. What the pan­dem­ic expe­ri­ence so far should have taught all of us is that many of the tasks and activ­i­ties that for long time we had argued need­ed to be per­formed in an office could actu­al­ly be per­formed remotely.

Those organ­i­sa­tions who can take the lessons we’ve learned from this peri­od of chaos and trans­late them into an approach to hybrid work­ing will be the ones who are most suc­cess­ful. This will require organ­i­sa­tions to build envi­ron­ments where employ­ees are chal­lenged to con­sid­er how best to achieve a spe­cif­ic out­come. You can, for exam­ple, onboard a new team mem­ber remote­ly, but can you do it bet­ter in per­son? Effec­tive hybrid work­ing means lay­ing out the key strate­gic and oper­a­tional objec­tives of the organ­i­sa­tion, help­ing employ­ees to trans­late those into indi­vid­ual goals, and empow­er­ing indi­vid­u­als to deliv­er those objec­tives through the most effec­tive means. Because whether the activ­i­ty takes place in an office or remote­ly, what real­ly mat­ters is how impor­tant the activ­i­ty real­ly is, and the qual­i­ty of the out­come generated.

Ensure man­agers are hav­ing reg­u­lar check-ins with their team for issues to be resolved

By hav­ing man­ag­er reg­u­lar­ly check-in with staff (we sug­gest once a month) any teething prob­lems can be raised by staff mem­bers. Your team mem­bers will want to know they are being lis­tened to, and any prob­lems they have are being tak­en seri­ous­ly. Check-ins allow both man­agers and their team to air any con­cerns, and these reg­u­lar con­ver­sa­tions will give your staff a fixed point each month where they know they can have their manager’s undi­vid­ed attention.

Bring­ing sta­bil­i­ty to your staff dur­ing these unpre­dictable times is all about good, con­sis­tent com­mu­ni­ca­tion. Let them know you are there, that you are keep­ing them and their needs in mind as you plan your hybrid mod­el, and you will lis­ten to them if they have issues and try to find a way to resolve this together.

Mod­ern Per­for­mance Man­age­ment is more impor­tant than ever

Whether your focus is on pol­i­cy, or on under­stand­ing how to best empow­er your employ­ees, now is the per­fect time to look again at your per­for­mance man­age­ment process. Mod­ern, con­tin­u­ous per­for­mance man­age­ment, as is sup­port­ed by our prod­uct here at Clear Review, sup­ports what is real­ly impor­tant when it comes to dri­ving per­for­mance improve­ment: agile, near-term goal set­ting, real-time feed­back and con­tin­u­ous, trans­par­ent conversations.

You can find out more over on our Per­for­mance Man­age­ment Acad­e­my, which you can join for free. Learn how to real­ly dri­ve per­for­mance in uncer­tain times!

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