With the flexibility of hybrid working, comes choice. In almost all the organizations we talk to, teams and individual employees have significantly more choice about where to work, who you work with and when you work. This choice has been beneficial for most, with job design being a more personal, agile, and engaging process. Employees are now able to deconstruct the tasks necessary to achieve an outcome and put them back together in a way that best fits the task to be done, their energy levels, and personal activities that they have planned. Removing the traditional boundaries of 9-5 in the office has been liberating for many.
It all sounds very positive, so why the concern about hybrid working? We hear concerns about worsening productivity, inconsistent practices, less collaboration, redundant office space and leaders struggling to adapt the challenges of managing a hybrid workforce.
We believe that one of the main reasons is that hybrid working practices have emerged due to the necessity of COVID. A passive, ‘let it happen’ response has been adopted by many organisations so it is only now that leaders are finding it difficult to provide a framework within which they can get the right people together at the right time.
For some the natural response is to return to the safe place of ‘back to normal’ and media interest is fuelling a campaign to get workers back into the office. Is this the right answer? Probably not, the advantages of hybrid working are too significant to ignore.
We would encourage team leaders to use a simple framework: Reimagining your Job, to facilitate a discussion, at a team level, to design and create new team working practices that achieve a balance between personal preference and what is effective for customers, colleagues, and the wider organization.
We have learned from our research, Rethinking Leadership for the Hybrid World of Work, that more common assumptions are not always proving to be the case. Some people find it easier to concentrate on individual tasks when outside of their home, others are more than able to use remote technology to work creatively with others, and many value team meetings being a virtual process. Exploring these preferences as a team can help promote a positive hybrid team environment.