How to ensure productivity and engagement in the new era of hybrid working

Andy Nicol


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Andy Nicol, CEO of ABSTRACT, the leading experts in Hybrid Working, ED&I and Performance Management, says organisations need to act now to reduce burnout, disengagement and attrition as hybrid working becomes the norm.

A steady transition requires strong and considerate leadership

Nobody wanted to jump ship during lockdown but with the job market now looking healthy, there’s a danger that attrition will sap talent from organisations as back-to-office plans are unveiled.

We’ve seen that organisations that create an ‘empowered culture’, i.e. they trust their employees to do the right thing and allow them to ‘locate for the day ahead’, are seeing increased engagement and productivity. In contrast, those with an ‘enforced culture’, where the business dictates the days and times people are expected to be in the office, are seeing their talent seek more flexible opportunities elsewhere.

Managing the performance of a hybrid team

The successful transition to hybrid working isn’t just about decisions made at the top level. It’s about understanding your people and their motivations, and setting really clear expectations and goals, so they know exactly what they need to do to meet their objectives.

If each member of your team cannot articulate their required inputs (tasks to meet their objectives), this will cause them significant anxiety. Clearly communicating the inputs required by your team to achieve the desired results, will reduce stress, increase engagement, and enable targets to be met. And, when it comes to assessing success, these results will always count more than time spent ‘present’ at desks.


A post-restriction approach to ED&I

Building fairness and inclusivity into the heart of a hybrid working model is a complex, yet fundamental, process. As any organisation adapts, situations arise where some teams or team members will feel isolated or left out. Rifts can develop that can be very damaging to engagement and productivity.

Navigating this territory requires inclusive leadership that demonstrates a visible commitment to get it right. Strong, considerate leaders, who show empathy and curiosity for others, and display emotional and cultural intelligence, will enable organisations to set a clear cultural tone, where all voices will be heard with equal weight. They must inspire a willingness to engage across the wider team, by creating an inclusive environment in which everyone can thrive and improve. They must draw out the unique attributes and contributions of their organisation’s most precious asset…its people.


Next steps

It makes sense, but it’s easier said than done. Organisations want control and visibility, whilst workers want flexibility and trust. The need for a holistic skillset in management has never been greater. Organisations require inclusive leaders capable of supporting, coaching and developing people through major adjustments – and corporate culture will need to be infused across the entire organisation – within all the team and regional subcultures.

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