As organisations start to seriously consider not just whether hybrid is desirable but how to make it work in practice, it is time to think about the stakeholders. And right at the top of that list, is people managers. Before the pandemic, managers were just one of the barriers to flexible working acceptance and availability. But where are we now and what are managers currently thinking?
I’m suggesting that there are six types of manager when it comes to flexible and hybrid future working models. When it comes to planning for whatever comes next, we need to take into account each one of them.
The ‘Get Back to the Office’ Manager
A die-hard micro manager, the last year has been very difficult for this particular manager. They have hated every aspect of working from home and cannot wait to reclaim their office and all that they associate with it. They need separation between work and home, and assume that everyone else works the same way that they do. Even if the company is saying hybrid, this manager is telling his team on the DL not to ask as it won’t apply to them. Everyone in this manager’s team needs to join them on the 9-5.
The ‘Had a Revelation’ Manager
Formally flex reluctant and quite likely to have turned down a flexible working request or two in their time. Previously worried about ‘setting a precedent’ or whether people would spend their working hours watching daytime TV, this manager is now the ultimate convert. They love working from home. They have totally recognised the benefits. They are converted. They are ready to implement new ways of working. Yesterday.
The Reluctant but Accepting Manager
Has read the all headlines and the surveys. Isn’t personally a fan of flexible or hybrid working. Would really prefer everyone comes back to the office for most of the time. Will follow the policies and processes. If they have to. They might sigh a bit while doing it though.
The Flex Denier
Has seen the headlines about what employees want, but isn’t convinced it applies to their business. Doesn’t believe that people will really leave their job to go work some place more flexible. At least no one that works for them anyway. Thinks that organisations are taking it a bit far, and all this hybrid stuff will blow over in a few months. Won’t move too fast.
The Hybrid Cynic
Knows people want it, knows the organisation wants to implement it, but just doesn’t believe that it can work in practice. Concerned about the implementation. The ongoing management. The operational impact. How to make it fair, how to communicate, how to make sure that the jobs get done. Will find the barriers, and may be a blocker. Likely to encourage their team to be in the office as much as possible.
The ‘What’s All the Fuss About’ Manager
Worked flexibly BC (Before Covid). Encouraged their team to do so. Understands the benefits. Didn’t understand why some people were so against it. Sees the move towards hybrid as natural and sensible. Will advocate, encourage and support.
This blog post is slightly tongue in cheek. Slightly.
But each of these opinions and viewpoints exist to some extent in every organisation, at every management level in the hierarchy. The successful implementation of new ways of working depends on having a strategy for each of these perspectives, and the actions that will follow them. We need to hear fears and concerns, share benefits and businesses cases, challenge constructively, monitor and measure…. and perhaps occasionally move around the barrier.