THERE ARE AS MANY PROS AS CONS FROM REMOTE WORKING. FOR EVERY MID-CAREER PERSON MANAGING WORK AROUND CARING DUTIES, THERE ARE NEW JOINERS THAT FEEL ISOLATED AND HELD BACK. EMPLOYEES, BLESSED WITH A LOVING AND SUPPORTIVE HOMELIFE, THRIVE ON HOMEWORKING, WHILE OTHERS HAVE TO ENDURE MORE TIME “BEHIND CLOSED DOORS” WITH ABUSIVE PARTNERS. FOR EVERY WORKER WHOSE JOBS EASILY TRANSLATES TO REMOTE, OTHERS HAVE LIMITED SCOPE – EVEN THOUGH EMPLOYMENT CONTRACTS ARE IDENTICAL – EXPOSING EMPLOYERS TO CLAIMS OF INEQUALITY.
HYBRID WORKING STILL DOMINATES CONVERSATION – CREATING THE RIGHT WORKSPACE, MANAGING PEOPLE REMOTELY AND FLEXIBLY AND BUILDING AN INCLUSIVE WORK ENVIRONMENT – BUT WHILE IT CAN BE DIFFICULT TO MANAGE HYBRID WORKING FROM A BUSINESS AND CHANGE MANAGEMENT
PERSPECTIVE, IT CAN BE JUST AS DIFFICULT TO NAVIGATE AS AN INDIVIDUAL.
There are certain skills and behaviours that lend themselves to successful and productive hybrid working. Resilience is a tremendous quality and yet it’s more of a coping strategy – something we call on when we’re stretched beyond our comfort zone. What people need now is to nurture a growth mindset – embracing change and being open to challenge – by looking for the accompanying learning opportunities. Resilience defends self, while a growth mindset embraces challenge as an opportunity to learn and be better. Help people to fix on the horizon and apply a growth mindset to cope with the present and flourish in the future.
Being proactive and visible – using time to manage your internal profile, relationships and even personal development – is a great way to exercise the autonomy granted by the remote/ hybrid model. Hybrid working doesn’t reward passivity, people must – metaphorically – shout louder. Employees know themselves better than anyone, so encourage them to own their own approach, by understanding what motivates and demotivates them. Help them identify their strengths, weakness, superpowers, key areas of strength and blind spots – the things that can unknowingly derail them, as well as positive things that often go unnoticed. Creating a strong sense of community, centred around a common purpose, is also key to employee empowerment in this environment. It’s essential that, even in a virtual space, employees can share their brilliance with others, feel valued within a community and operate as part of something bigger than themselves.
One of the big benefits of homeworking should be a better work/ life balance. However, research is pointing to more than half of homeworkers working longer hours than before the pandemic and so it is clear that people need to be encouraged to prioritise their own wellbeing. So, in the course of meetings and collaborative working, provide time and space for everyone to connect, be authentic and vulnerable, before focusing on the business points of the meeting. A good exercise is to enable employees to centre themselves at the start of each day and take regular breaks – five minutes every 55 minutes is a good ratio – just to refresh, refocus and help them to take the time they need to be their best. Finally, switching off the laptop at the end of every day, should be seen as sacrosanct.
Remote/hybrid teams must work together as effectively as their office-based counterparts and that almost always involves using digital collaboration tools. My personal belief is that the only barrier to technology is an individual’s willingness to embrace it. So, encourage people to be curious, explore digital collaboration tools, provide appropriate support and training and motivate colleagues to share their learning with others. The ability to overcome barriers and use available tools to continue innovation – wherever work is carried out – will be immensely valuable for both leaders and teams. In the shift to hybrid working, flexibility is important, but so is flow. In a hybrid environment, employees need that ability to flow effortlessly from one situation to another, without timewasting set up. Enabling employees to develop flow requires cultivating the right workplace climate and culture, which includes being clear about outcomes and deliverables, establishing and following the right processes and attracting and retaining good people. This will help find flow in tasks, physical locations and relationships.
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