A one off reflections and top tips for leaders considering hybrid working and how to do it successfully.
Hey there, it's Lucy Barkas back for another leader x podcast. Now, I wanted to talk a little bit about hybrid working. And it's a topic that seems to be coming up again and again at the moment because people are really struggling to figure out how we're going to get people back to work. And what's it going to look like? When do we do it? How will we maintain the social distancing? What are we going to do? About our lease? Do we sell our properties? So many questions that are going around? And so yeah, that's what today is all about. Now, I remember when lean was the buzzword, then it went to agile and Scrum and flexible benefits. Now, all of those terms are completely relevant even today. But yeah, they're not the passwords anymore. Now 2020 was the the year when remote working and fellow our rates and zoom fatigue came into our common language. And the 2021, I think hybrid working is going to be the word on everyone's lips and occupying everyone's minds. Now, hybrid isn't just being seen as the Saviour of the 21st century workplace. It's actually changing the way that people think about what they do, and what actually makes them happy. And these are really some quite deep questions, not just bleeders, but for everybody. They're having those thoughts, those conversations with their friends, with their partners, with their parents, with their colleagues. And now already, recruiters are finding it really hard to place talent in roles that are either 100%, remote, or 100%. On site. You know, we've all done both, and neither is the perfect solution for everyone. So is hybrid really the answer? Well, it could be. But it's actually not that simple, either. Now, hybrid is that mix of working from anywhere and from the office to it feels like freedom, it feels like empowerment, it feels like choice. But some people just don't want to be away from the office and their colleagues. And some people don't want to be in or do that daily commute or be stuck somewhere for eight hours a day under some kind of contract. Some people don't want to have a choice. You know, they don't even have a choice. Their work can't be done from the local coffee shop or their garden or a co working space. Let's face it, choice is actually really, really tough. I mean, look how many options you have on your TV right now? Is it Netflix? Is it sky? Is it amazon prime, and then you look at how many playlists you've got on Spotify or iTunes, I mean, it's overwhelming. It's too much choice almost makes the decision even harder and can kind of lead to more stress. So how do you got to policy freedom and because you know, if hybrid working is going to be the thing that you do in your organisation, you're gonna need a policy around it, you're gonna need some kind of rules and some boundaries. And how do you as a leader, get everyone in on the same day? When you've given people freedom to choose where they work? Can you mandate it? Can you force people in on certain days and, and for how long they've got to be there, which desks they're going to use? So the decision about who can work remotely and what proportion of their time it's got to have some structure around it, it's got to have some kind of rules, but not so stagnant and structured. And that people feel that loss of that sense of empowerment and that freedom. You've also got to remember, it's, you know, is it fair and consistent. You know, if you've given people choice, is it going to cause some resentment if some people are never in and others running until three days a week? What about if one manager wants everybody in all the time another manager is really laissez faire about it? So how do you make sure that the culture the policy, that the way in which you work is fair and consistent is not going to cause politics grudges, gossip, and basically toxicity? Well, the answer is you need to engage others in the conversation. You need to find out how they want to work, what suits them what's going on in their personal lives, and what are their fears and their worries, and then together co create an approach that feels fair for all. It might differ workplace to workplace industries, industry leader to leader, you know that no one company is the same. And that's why we don't want to give you a list of things that you must do. We mustn't do. All I will say is that you have to listen to what your people won't listen to what talent wants, you know, is your geographical location, a limiting factor? And, you know, is parking really rubbish or is it busy? He motorways do, you want to be able to hire people in different time zones, different locations, all of these are going to be informing the way in which you do remote flexible on site working. So get clear on what you want, as a leader, and as an individual, the kind of work that you actually do the culture that you want to do that work in and find a way to make it work. And you've got to make sure that all of your managers are on board, they understand what's right for your organisation. And so they don't just do things based on their own personal preferences. Ad know that you're not going to get it right straightaway, you may need to trial it, you may need to just try it with your team start off with and but you're going to need to adapt and change. That's just the world that we work in. And you know, the world of work will always change. So you need to be agile, is that word again? Told you it was still about. But what it looks like in reality is really tricky. I mean, you might have three days in the office two days out, and you might have all of a certainty in on a set day. Or you might just leave the decision making to the individual. So they just pick and choose when they're in. And you might need to create flexible spaces, so redesign the office. And those desks might need to be come. More working hubs, more collaborative spaces, I think, you know, it could be really, really powerful in knocking down all those departmental silos, you know, one day you could be working with God for marketing. And next day, you're sat next to max from finance. And you know, so it's a really great way to work collaboratively. And I've done that in the past. And it was really lovely. And you know, you never know who you're going to be bumping into that day, when you decide to work from the office, and you know, use their coffee, use their printers, all that kind of stuff. But yeah, those informal formal networks, it just helps you find out what's going on what's going on, and other people's functions and departments, and just get a different perspective. So I think it's really lovely. You might decide that one day per month, everyone in your team comes together for a team day, it might be a meeting or just either an idea creation session, just social time where you all go for lunch together or go for a walk together, you might do an evening. And you might form co working spaces in key locations. So get rid of your main hub and just set them up all around the country. So people can just you know, use their credit to go and book a desk where they know their colleagues might be for that that day or for a morning. What is more likely is that you will have some people online, some people in the room. And honestly facilitating those kind of meetings where you've got some people in the room with you some not, it's a skill that you're going to have to learn it is difficult, it is challenging. So really, there's no way to do a hybrid, I'd love to be able to say this is how to do a hybrid, but the reality is, is you're going to have to figure it out for yourself. Every company, every culture, all the work that you do is different. And it's going to cause you to rethink how jobs are actually done and how work is structured, how to lead those projects, even though more matrix teams, how do you get the day to day routine jobs done. You might even find some tasks become redundant in the new world replaced by AI, or now that people work remotely. And they just don't need to do that, that function anymore. I have to adapt this way with my own team. We all work remotely. And we will be meeting face to face. We live in the same city, which is amazing. But we've chosen to work remotely predominantly. Now Fridays are the only days in our diary where we have our schedules clear and our first to have a weekly meeting. You know, and I asked them when is your best day. And we all look together and like okay, Fridays, that's the day. And so they know, we all know what we need to do when we come to that meeting, how we need to show up, get prepared with the questions. And so it's really efficient. You know, but some of the team members that they're really busy in the mornings and others, they are busy doing stuff in the afternoon. So none of us are working on projects all at the same time. But over a week. So our time is looked at in week slots. And so on that Friday, we say right, what are we going to achieve next week? Who is doing what? And what do you need from me? Okay, and then we get back together on the Friday and we look at our successes and planning ahead for the following week. But we have collaborations tools we discussed how are we going to keep in contact. So we've got a SharePoint, we've got a whatsapp group. We've got zoom calls where we jump on and just have conversations. So it's really anytime, anyplace anywhere kind of work. King. And this is what leader x does really, really well, because they value autonomy, and relationships and the experience of work and trying to make it fun and meaningful. So they build their organisations around those values, and they hire based on those qualities, their organisations play with different scenarios and find the best way to move forward, you might need to craft roles and responsibilities to best meet the needs of the customer, yourself and your people, but nothing is static, the job descriptions might get a little bit fuzzy, but they focus on outcomes now, and values and behaviours rather than these are the 10 things that you must do in your job. And then even the tasks and outputs might become more hybrid, you know, for some parts of the job, they might be done at home, some you might be able to let them be in the park, others you might need to be in a workshop or on a production line physically in the place. Sometimes you might need privacy. Sometimes there may be GDPR issues or you know, it's a sensitive conversation. So looking at all of the different activities and tasks and finding the right location for them is critical. So plan all those activities. So they allow for the flow, they allow for everybody to show up and be at their best. So online planning tools, collaboration tools, like Trello, or Slack, Google Docs, Mondays, all of those things need to go in your, I guess your tech stack and your communication stack. And one of the biggest things in the new world is going to be how you then manage performance. So you need to move away from this presenteeism and micromanagement mindset. So just because you can see that they're locked down or that they're physically sat in front of you doesn't actually mean to say that they're doing any work. So your shift needs to be more around daily or that weekly performance conversations, focus on outputs. I mean, that's all you really need to be clear about in your delegation, isn't it? Who is doing what by when, and what does good look like. And if you're not being clear about those, then don't be surprised if people are doing different tasks, or it doesn't look what like what you imagined it to be. You need to monitor the outputs, the behaviours, you need to be able to keep a record and, and just be able to assess performance, because that's what you're enrolled to do to deliver performance. You need to deal with the issues in real time, not until you Next, see them back in the office, you need to just pick up the phone, send them a message, say, look, I need to chat with you about this, something's going wrong, or I'm not feeling it. And it's a lot more informal in that sense. And then when praises do give it but it's got to be meaningful, it's got to have context, it's got to be timely. It's got to be sincere. So remote working, and hybrid working will really shift the focus away from where work is done and towards what work is being done. So your performance management becomes more about coaching and mentoring and supporting colleagues and peers to deliver. And then there's well being it's got to be a big focus in your your mindset. I mean, how do you know how somebody is really doing when you don't see them every day? Let's face it, many managers didn't even know that their employees were doing well or not well, even if they were sat in front of them anyway. But hybrid working means that you need to be really aware of how your people are doing both mentally, physically and emotionally. Are they happy? Are they fulfilled? Are they engaged? Do they wake up motivated to achieve their goals? Or are they completely backing the team's mission? Are they aligned? Or are they stressed, anxious, disengaged in chaos? Are they not delivering the work? Are they not responding to your emails? are they missing deadlines? These are all really good indicators that you really need to focus on. So you need to build some kind of welfare calls into your work. And yeah, the more like informal check ins, and it's not just about the work, it's about the person, how are they doing? what's on their mind? What do they need from you? How can you support them more, you know, really just, you know, focus on the outputs in terms of what's being done at one meeting, and then focus on the human in the other. Now, leading others in this way means that you need to create a culture where people feel safe, they need to feel secure, they need to feel aligned. But you know, you, you as a leader really need to grow your emotional intelligence muscles to notice what's being said and not being said, to be able to have those coaching style conversations. You need to be able to lead effectively in this hybrid model. Now, one of the areas that I really struggled with, is onboarding new staff, training existing ones, in new ways of working and developing talent. Now, honestly, if you're excelling in these in the old world, then hi Bread is not really a challenge for you. You just need to rethink how it was delivered. I had to record myself doing all of my key tasks on zoom, which meant me narrating over the top of the slides or whatever I was doing. And I had to really think about why am I doing this step what comes next. And then store the more centrally on a drive. So my new team members could go to the portal whenever they were working. And get these how tos. I set up the Shared Documents, Whatsapp groups, and so they could ask me any questions when they were struggling. And if I could, I could just jump on a call and, and help them out. So they just don't feel alone like they're struggling. Now, back in the day, I'd probably sat with them at their desks. And I'm going through the tasks with them really just explaining and asking questions, check back understanding. Now I give them the training and then virtually sit with them when they need me. So it's not on my schedule that they're doing it on their schedule. So training sessions are being done online. My workshops are a blend of the online portal, so they can do the modules when they need to do them face to face phone, zoom WhatsApp, so all of the training is hybrid. And the question I keep asking them is, what else do you need? How am I doing? How can I serve you more, you know, cuz I want to make sure that they've got the right tools for the job. And they feel that they can approach me anytime. The result is that we formed a really fluid and trusting relationship. We have the structure, but we're also flexible. We are learning how to be together and learning as we go through. And when things aren't working, we name it, we co create a solution together. They are involved as much as I'm involved. So when you think about training on onboarding or performance management or reevaluating what work is done, and where it's done, what policies you need to, to create, just remember that hybrid is an evolution and revolution. It's here, it's now but how it works will need continual improvement and tweaking. You need to adapt as a leader and you need to help others adapt and develop in this new way of working. So just remember, it's an evolution and a revolution. So get in touch let me know your thoughts. Follow the hashtag leader x. And if you do want help with this because it's big stuff, it's a big change. Get in touch by heading to the website, www dot three w h.uk.com. That's the number three and the letters W and H. I hope you found this useful and take care everyone and look after your own wellbeing.