The new normal world disrupted the 9 to 5 workday routine and transformed work cultures across the globe into a hybrid working model. While some organisations are going all in on flexible work, others are willing to go back to the pre-pandemic work routines.
Pandemic-triggered work from home, remote working, or hybrid working has changed the dynamics of traditional work culture. Flexibility is the most relatable answer to this uncertainty. Employees have become accustomed to flexible working, and demand for it to continue has only risen.
The hybrid workforce model is already being termed the future of work, however, have leaders evolved to meet the needs of this new change?
According to EY’s Work Reimagined survey, of over 16,000 employees, across 23 sectors and 13 countries, 90% of employees wanted flexible working options, and 54% considered leaving their current employment if they don’t retain flexible working options.
In this uncertain scenario, hybrid leadership has taken centre stage for facilitating a well-crafted future of work. The corporate culture of the future will have to strive to build a safe space for fresh and new ideas to flourish which will have great implications for organisations wanting to build a robust talent pipeline.
Discarding ambiguity- Clear goals and policies
The foundation of a collaborative team, irrespective of hybrid or not, is clarity. Charting out clear goals and policies is a common thread that can sustain long-term team associations.
From role clarities to work hours, everything needs to be sorted out in terms of expectations. Leaders need to convey this explicitly to their teams in a bid to prepare them for a fully functional hybrid team.
For instance, what work instances warrant for employees to meet in the office, what work should be kept remote, and even the format of hybrid team meetings. Leaders should serve as facilitators for the team to communicate their goals collaboratively.
Communication is often left open to interpretation which could be detrimental. Ensuring that the final expectations of working norms are crystal clear will be the way ahead.
Recognising diverse preferences
Employees working remotely consider accommodating family and personal time while some may prefer working the traditional way and others will ask for flexible hours. There is no one solution for all. Adapting to these new work expectations will not only result in an improved work-life culture but increase employee engagement and strengthen retention.
Leaders will have to understand diverse preferences while planning what works and bringing all teams to a consensus that is fair and will suit all. Compromises are necessary to attain a collective goal of productivity for the organisation. Ensuring remote employees have equal access to share their progress, initiatives, and learnings with management as much as office-going employees do, is a great way to implement hybrid leadership skills.
Promoting cohesive relationships
Leading hybrid teams will not be easy but will require resilience, understanding of preferences, and trust-building qualities. Building trust among the teams is primary and trust is built on mutual understanding.
Leaders will have to create reliability among hybrid teams while consistently maintaining high performance. Creating an inclusive team environment is essential, irrespective of each of the locations they are working from. Future leaders need to overcome barriers set by virtual limitations by connecting people and supporting them all to contribute and be productive.
Making the right use of technology despite remote setups can contribute to connecting employees. To give an example, running virtual workshops where people can interact without any work pressure, break the ice with newcomers, and even learn skills and strengths from one another could be a better way to bring teams together.
Organisations are in the process of building the ultimate workforce of the 21st century where their layers of choices, transparency, and authenticity will dictate the formation of a truly hybrid workforce. Amidst this, reimagining work culture and leadership practices, with an approach that does not threaten employee productivity and retention, is the need of the hour.