Hybrid working – best practice to adapting!
With lockdown measures now eased in many countries, employers and employees are now trying to strike a balance between pre-pandemic working in the office and a more flexible working from home culture, which has led to a recent rise in “hybrid working”, where employees spend their work time split between the office and home. What impact has this had? Can it be maintained long term? Is hybrid working productive?
Employees are clear on one thing — they want the flexibility to choose between remote, hybrid, or office-based working arrangements. In the UK research suggests that the benefits relate to flexible scheduling, personal cost savings, the absence of commuting and improved home care opportunities, for pets, children and/or relatives. Conversely, in research conducted by Statista.com, 25 percent of respondents state that their biggest struggle when working remotely was not being able to unplug. As many people who work from home do not necessarily have a designated workspace, they experience a conflation between their living area and workplace. However, over one third of respondents answered that they experienced no struggles when working remotely. The onus then is on employers to ensure their HR policies are equitable no matter where each employee is based but also that the technology solutions required for team work and collaboration meet the needs of the employee and the business.
Challenges of Hybrid Working
Remote communication can distort the normal pace of our conversations. The delay between our messages can often postpone or hide emotional reactions to our comments. While we may have become used to these types of asynchronous interactions, they can still conflict with our normal rules for social interaction. Lacking an immediate response, we can become distracted, second-guess ourselves, or even grow frustrated with our teams.
To perform at the highest levels, remote and hybrid teams must find new and better ways to operate.
First, consider that there are three kinds of distance in remote collaboration: physical (place and time), operational (team size, bandwidth and skill levels) and affinity (values, trust, and interdependency). The best way for managers to drive team performance is by focusing on reducing affinity distance.
Here are some best practices to consider:
1. Adapt employee wellbeing policies to fit remote working environments.
Remote work can offer employees plenty of benefits — but if it’s not managed correctly, it can also negatively affect their mental health and wellbeing. Research shows that loneliness, increased stress, feelings of isolation, and blurred work-life boundaries can all affect employees working remotely. Some employees may feel unable to switch off when their workspace and home are in the same space, with burnout becoming more common as a result.
2. Be extra clear with your communications.
In our efforts to be efficient, we sometimes use fewer words to communicate. But such brevity can mean that the rest of the team wastes time trying to interpret your messages. (And then misinterprets them anyway.) Don’t assume that others understand your cues and shorthand. Spend the time to communicate with the intention of being ultra-clear, no matter the medium. Indeed, you can never be too clear, but it is too easy to be less clear than you should.
3. Prioritise employee engagement with regular check-ins.
Sometimes — especially in a hybrid working environment — remote employees can feel like they’re not truly part of the company they work for. Over time, this can lead to them feeling overworked and under-appreciated, leading to a lack of engagement. Almost 60% of UK managers said the engagement and motivation of their team members is their top challenge. And rightly so, with 39% of employees saying they struggle to stay motivated.
4. Don’t bombard your team with messages.
Do you follow up on a task by email, text and phone? Do you tend to ask people if they got your previous message? Abusing those access points can be a form of digital dominance, a relentless and uncomfortable form of harassment. The medium you choose creates different demands on the time of the receiver. Using all of them for the same message is ineffective (as well as annoying). Choose your digital volume wisely.
5. Establish communication norms and practices
Remote teams need to create new norms that establish clarity in communication. Companies such as Merck have created acronyms for their digital communications like “Four Hour Response (4HR)” and “No Need to Respond (NNTR)” that bring predictability and certainty to virtual conversations. Individual teams can also establish their own norms — e.g., to use or not use Slack, Google Docs, or Whatsapp groups. And norms can also exist on an individual level, such as people’s preferred response time, writing style, and tone. For example, some individuals prefer short and quick messages, while others favour lengthy and detailed responses; people also differ in their preference and tolerance for humour and informality.
While we often tend to regard human predictability as a defect, few qualities are more sought-after at work, especially in virtual collaborations. We are all unique, but our consistent behaviours help others predict what we do, and in turn help them to understand us — and we all benefit from being understood. You can make that easier for others by establishing a clear personal etiquette and sticking to it consistently.
At Change Corp we are working with clients to address the challenges of hybrid working.
We have developed an approach that focuses on the leadership challenges, and reflects the issues clients have communicated to us
If you want to learn more, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a call to discuss how we can support you.
Visit https://thechangecorporation.com to know more.
Change Corp is skilled in implementing intervention that focus on team development for a new future, and which can directly address the content and delivery of learning for team leaders. For more information on our Team Leaders for the future programme book a demo in the link below
We have also produced a FREE ‘Cultivating Compassionate Leadership’ development lesson. Follow the link below to download the video and manual
Compassionate Leadership manual and video
Contact us if you would like to discuss how Change Corp can support you in these challenging times.