The foundations of hybrid working

I’ve been thinking about hybrid working. Again.

In this post I am going to collect my thoughts about what needs to be in place organisationally for hybrid to flourish. This is of course in addition to having a policy or set of guiding principles. I have written about that here.

I’ve collected these thoughts into this model.

In the centre, trust.  When it comes to hybrid working, this is the heart, the bedrock. Without it, hybrid will never truly deliver.  Before the pandemic too many people believed that remote working was not possible.  That the outcome would be reduced productivity our outright skiving.  We have learned differently this last year. That does not however mean that the desire for control within organisations has disappeared.  We should trust the people we work with unless we have a very good reason not to – but this is often not our default position. From the days of Taylor we have monitored and measured. We’ve been Theory X and not Theory Y.  It is time to trust.

Supporting the centre….

  1. Communication.  With intention, with purpose. Moving beyond watercoolers.  Tailored to the needs of each team – agreements on when, where, how and what to communicate. Default online for meetings.  A shared responsibility for everyone.
  • Technology.  Hybrid is only viable if employees are equally effect in the office or at home.  Ease of connection to between people in different places.  It’s not the specific platform that matters, but making the most of it, and managing it too.  Helping everyone to use it fully. Absolutely must include asynchronous tools.
  • Outcomes based performance.  Not rewarding presenteeism.  Assessing performance with data, based on outcomes, results and contribution. Frequent conversations, clear objectives, regular feedback.  What we should have been doing all along, basically.
  • Inclusion. Making the most of hybrid to support inclusion.  Challenging flex stigma and bias. Including everyone, wherever they are.  Focusing on fairness.
  • Energy and wellbeing.  Managing boundaries and balance.  Considering digital wellbeing and healthy screen habits.  Helping people to work productively, using their energies and the right time, and in the right place. 
  • Meaningful face-time. Being intentional about going into a workplace – not carrying a laptop just to do virtual work in a physical location, but using this time for collaboration and relationships. Redesigning spaces to facilitate collaboration and support different forms of work.

Together, these elements create a new culture.  One in which hybrid working can flourish…. And we can make change for the better.  If I may paraphrase my friend Neil Usher… hybrid isn’t going to be easy. But it will be worth it.

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