Hybrid working is here to stay, bringing huge potential to transform productivity.
Prior to the pandemic, 92% of companies surveyed by McKinsey thought their business models would change because of digitalisation, signalling the beginning of a workstyle shift we now see as permanent. At the same time, in a flexible working study, 67% of leaders related an increase of 20% in productivity to flexible working practices.
But, as the structure of work changed, did management practices keep pace?
The challenge today is to find a management style that will unlock this boost in productivity.
Hybrid working needs careful navigation
Using the wrong management approach with hybrid working teams risks triggering significant people-related problems.
Working away from the team base can cause isolation and anxiety amongst team members, which can have a negative impact on motivation levels. Then, the homeworking environment can involve the distractions of family pressures and commitments. Plus, a poorly managed hybrid working setup can bring with it hyper connectivity, an always-on culture and video meeting fatigue - potentially leading to digital burnout and health issues due to poor eating and sleeping habits.
What levers can a leader and manager pull to prevent these issues and build a positive, effective hybrid working experience for their teams? What gear changes will have the most impact?
1. Encourage a holistic clarity of purpose
Create a sense of purpose in your work life and, potentially, in your domestic and family situation and encourage your teams to do the same. I believe that when we know what our purpose is, the journey becomes easier and, in many cases, enjoyable. In changing times like these it’s really important that your colleagues feel anchored, as this generates a sense of stability and safety – and this is when we do our best work.
Acknowledging you don’t have all the answers is a strong way to build trust amongst your people. Tough management styles backfire at the best of times, let alone in an uncertain world when we all need care and consideration.
2. Model the behaviour you want to see
Start by setting standards for yourself and make sure you stick to them. Things that work for me include avoiding multi-tasking, bringing my full attention to meetings, focusing on the necessary to avoid distraction, not overusing digital tools like ‘reply all’ on email, and leaving time for thinking in the diary.
Be open about how you approach work with your teams and encourage them to set and share their own standards. Think about running check-in sessions where everyone shares how they’re doing.
3. Build wellbeing by welcoming flexibility
Wherever possible, allow your people to fit their tasks and deliverables around their lifestyle. If needed, offer them the flexibility to do the school drop off and collection or let them destress with a lunchtime run or cycle ride.
4. Use collaboration to break down barriers
Employees working in hybrid environments often feel more motivated and are more productive when they have a sense of inclusion - even when they’re not in the office. Even though we can’t digitally recreate the full sensory experience of meeting in-person, collaboration tools take us part of the way, offering a virtual environment for hybrid teams to use to come together for work or socialising. Encourage your teams to explore your collaboration tools and suggest ways sharing the space can foster better connections.
5. Set the scene for your teams
Explain the connections between what your people do and the wider corporate goals to give meaning to projects. Set sensible expectations around how long a task will take and make sure your teams focus their work to achieve this. Plan in time to coach and mentor employees to improve performance and personal development, and don’t dilute these conversations with a focus on tasks.
6. Manage your own day with your team in mind
Time zones permitting, make an informal connection with team members before you get down to the business of the day – this will really help with culture. Then, before checking emails, write down the three most important things you need to do that day and keep coming back to these aims throughout the day to check progress. If you structure your diary for periods of deep work - where you can focus uninterrupted – you’ll find it easier to create value.
Visit our webpage to find out more about how we can help your organisation unlock a productive hybrid working environment.