17 Oct The hybrid work see-saw
Can we rehumanise the workplace and still work from home?
Many organisations continue to question their position on hybrid work. And I can understand why. It’s a complex quandary.
On one side of the equation, leaders are questioning what’s best for the business:
- Are people productive when they work at home?
- What does hybrid work mean for our investment in office space?
- If people don’t work from the office full-time, should they still ‘own’ a desk?
And on the other side of the equation, they’re asking what’s best for employees:
- If we introduce a ‘number of in-office days’ policy, does it erode trust and trigger turnover?
- How do we balance the need for individual flexibility and team connection?
- What impact is hybrid work having on culture?
As they see-saw back and forth, they often ask COMUNiTI to share our insights. And while there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to these questions, we do believe that humanising the approach to hybrid work is best for people and performance.
So, what does a humanised approach to hybrid practically mean? Here are just two examples:
Motivating over mandating
At COMUNiTI, we advocate for a motivation over mandate approach to hybrid work. In other words, if you want people to return to the office, you have to earn the commute.
- It means asking the right questions to understand what is important to different sections of your workforce, and then putting measures in place to make sure that the work environment facilitates their work styles and practices. Neurodiversity in teams means its important to offer a variety of spaces to support productivity — not just meeting rooms and rows of desks. We all need variety.
- It also means designing purpose into the in-office days — be it to connect with the team, collaborate to solve-problems, or access mentoring and development opportunities, as opposed to doing deep cognitive, individual work, which could otherwise be done remotely. Our office time needs to be ‘purposeful’.
Leaders need more support
The sun has set on the old “bums on seats” logic and the “if I can’t see them, they’re not working” approach to leadership.
Leading hybrid teams is different to leading virtual teams (like we did during COVID), and it’s different to leading traditional teams (like we did before COVID). Leading hybrid teams today means supervisors, managers, and executives need different mindsets and in many cases, new skill sets.
Take for example these mindset and skill set shifts:
- Control and command style of leadership is out. Being able to support autonomy, mastery and purpose is in, because they drive motivation and engagement.
- Monitoring the time your team spends in the office is no longer an indicator of productivity or performance, especially with concepts like ‘quiet quitting’ and ‘presenteeism’ in play.
- Seeing people take long breaks chatting with others is no longer something to be frowned upon in a world where leaders have a role in fostering better relationships at work. Socialisation has become an important precursor to effective collaboration and psychological safety, and research also suggests that having a best friend at work is linked to better business outcomes.
- Measuring outcomes not just outputs.
- Being able to design moments of ‘joy’ into team rituals is important in fostering connection and belonging.
It’s a new world of work and leadership looks and feels very different from the style of leadership that many of us grew up with.
It’s a wonderfully human time to be in the business of business.
If you’d like to chat more about COMUNiTI’s insights into rehumanising the workplace, redesigning workspaces, or providing leaders with new skill sets, get in touch!