Effective Hybrid Working
The vast majority of companies are ready for a future workplace of hybrid working. However, each business in its own right must find out what hybrid model works best for their organisation, its employees, customers and other stakeholders.
Rationale For The Right Choice
The mounting evidence suggests that the shift away from the full-time office to hybrid working will be permanent. If your organisation is still deciding on the best approach, here are some essential variables to consider:
- Your employees and their needs as the hybrid working success depends on their support and buy-in;
- Your customers, your market and your ability to compete;
- Your corporate culture including the degree of in-person relations and work that are necessary to maintain it;
- Your talent and the extent to which you can attract, retain, engage and develop your employees;
- Your workplaces and your ability to accommodate employees and create compelling places they want to be;
- Your technology and how you support hybrid working through tech accommodations, software and apps to connect your employees.
Make sure it is agreed on who owns the decision around hybrid working and co-create the criteria upon which decision making is based.
Employees and their working style
Hybrid working schedules often vary according to industry and the nature of a role. According to Kristi Woolsey at the Boston Consulting Group, these differences may arise due to different needs for different types of employees according:
- Anchored operators should have 0% to 20% remote work as they need to be physically present to do their jobs (e.g. scientist in a laboratory);
- Creative collaborators should have 20% to 50% remote work as they develop new initiatives (e.g. marketing executives launching a new campaign);
- Focused contributors should have 50% to 80% remote work as their work requires an individual focus (e.g. a finance employee who closes the books every month), and;
- Pattern specialists should have 80% to 100% remote work as their work follows a repetitive process and a defined pattern (e.g. a call centre worker with a script).
Questions to ask
It is crucial to balance individual needs with the team and organisational needs and balance the choice and flexibility with firm expectations for performance. Business leaders need to think through role-specific criteria, but personal circumstances will also drive working arrangements.
When designing the hybrid working, questions to work through include:
- Where are your employees most productive and work best?
- To what extent does an employee need to collaborate with others?
- To what extent does an employee need to exchange information rapidly?
- To what extent are specific employees innovating rather than performing more transactional activities?
Then there are the personal aspects to consider:
- How is someone feeling about working from home versus in the office?
- Is that person feeling disconnected or overwhelmed?
- Is the employee clear about the organisation’s strategy and their role and responsibilities?
You can also add other questions for company leaders to consider:
- Should specific teams be in the office on the same days for in-person meetings and collaboration?
- What types of arrangements are best to hold in person?
- Will there be days when all employees can work from home?
‘Hybrid Working’ can mean different things to different individuals. Clarify how your organisation envision ‘hybrid working’ happening and how it is aligned with the organization’s strategy, goals, mission, and vision. When employees and teams have a good understanding of what is expected from them, their work location should never stop them from achieving their objectives.
Test, learn and improve
Hybrid working is not suitable for every organisation, or it may only work for a subset of your employees. The aim is to find a model that best fits your needs, satisfies clients’ expectations on service delivery, builds those relationships, and satisfies your people and keeps them productive. Then, implement best practices to measure and monitor your processes over time. Not only so you can respond to changing circumstances, but also so you can continuously improve based on what you will surely learn as new patterns of behaviour emerge.
Once you have established a model that could work for your business and its clients, getting employees’ views is crucial. You can do it through anonymous surveys that will encourage honesty and an open policy. This might surface any additional challenges you may not have previously considered.