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!