The last year and a half have changed the working lives of many people. Even though we were impacted in different ways by the pandemic and had different elements to balance at home, fundamentally it was a level playing field.
Maybe you have already started to go back to the office a few days a month and have got a sense for how it may be.
There is a big risk to hybrid working, whilst it hopefully offers us all greater flexibility, if it isn’t set up well, it will be a disaster. If your team doesn’t have the important conversations now about what matters to individuals and what the parameters/principles/ground rules are, there will be a lot of discord. The potential for resentment, conflict, negative ‘Office Politics’ and a sense of being left out/unfairly treated all have a high potential of occurring without the important conversations taking place.
There is a temptation to think you’ll mainly work at home, after all it has worked for so long. Do consider though the missed casual conversations, feeling part of a team in the fullest sense and how relationships are easier to build in person when considering what your balance of time at home and in the office should be.
The chart below from Cushman & Wakefield shows the likelihood of you seeing another specific person in the office depending on how many days you work remotely. I think the difference between two and three days at home is quite interesting; especially as for many people that will be the estimated balance.
It may be absolutely fine for your role to work remotely the majority of the time but it means you will need to plan more for the people you want to engage with.
The discussions and thinking which need to happen
As a team you need to discuss what each wants to do and discuss what you will use office time for. It is pointless to go to the office to be on video calls all day. Most people I know are using office time to collaborate with colleagues and to meet external people.
Agreeing communication channels is essential. It would be very easy for a manger to make an announcement in the office thinking everyone was up-to-date, forgetting the person who is at home that day.
Hybrid working shouldn’t mean hybrid meetings. Where possible important meetings shouldn’t take place with half the people together and half online. It is only if the key participants/influencers are online that the people online will get equal attention.
There is a challenge for managers to make sure they don’t rate those they have seen more in person more highly at performance review time. It is important to be visible and getting airtime with who you need to, requires planning.
Now is a good time to review the team systems and processes in terms of what needs improving to cope with hybrid working. A good starting point is what could have worked better when everyone was at home.
Finally, where hybrid working starts is not necessarily how it will continue. So agreeing that you will review how it is working as a team is important so you can all try it and see. People will also then feel they can have more input as it is work in progress.
If your team leader is not initiating this conversation then it is worth speaking to them. If you manage a team, you need to lead the way.
Three key things to remember
- People are different and will not necessarily see hybrid working the same way you do, so listening and engagement are required.
- Have the difficult conversations you need to as they arise, otherwise resentment only builds.
- Consider who you have not engaged with during the pandemic at work and how you can re-start/start that as you venture back to the office.
I am running group sessions for several organisations on Effective Hybrid Working over the next few months, if this could benefit your team contact me.
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