I remember working with UK local authorities a few years ago, which were faced with budget challenges and the need to make savings at the time. They identified that moving to a hybrid working model meant they needed less office space, could reduce their property portfolio and release some capital in the process to maintain key service provision.
There were lots of conversations around trusting in staff to deliver what was required whilst working from home and the technology needed to make this possible. But, by and large, things settled down and many members of staff got used to working partly in the office and partly from home.
The change was driven by a pressing financial requirement at the time, and today we have revisited hybrid working on a global scale, in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Around the time the UK local authorities were embracing hybrid working, I also remember having a conversation with two American friends who led teams in New York, and being surprised by the little appetite they had for letting staff work from home to any degree. Their challenge was in trusting their staff to do the job if they could not see them.
This mindset seemed outdated then, and today has been kicked into the long grass by the forced shift to home working for anyone who does not need to appear in person at work.
This has not been an easy process, however, and the shift to managing wholly remote and hybrid teams has meant that many leaders have had to learn new ways of leading their people.
Some of the common challenges I have heard from clients as they have adjusted to hybrid working include:
Two years of hybrid working later, and it looks like most organisations who can operate in a hybrid manner will continue with some form of it moving forwards.
So, reflecting on the common challenges above, what are the key questions we need to keep checking against as we continue to embrace a greater degree of hybrid working:
There isn’t a one size fits all solution to any of the above questions, though there is best practice and guidance, which alongside considered thought and discussion around questions such as those above, can change the question from “To be or not to be in the office, that is the question” to “How to be or not to be in the office, here’s the solution.” Apologies to Mr Shakespeare.
As always if this prompts any questions, please get in touch and I will be happy to answer them for you.
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