For organisations with a mixed location workforce (as distinct from a geographically dispersed workforce), moving to a hybrid model is more complex. It requires good planning, participation from employees in all areas of the company and exemplary communication. Yet all too frequently, senior executives get it wrong and create tensions between those that can and those that can’t, leading to a sense of inequity and/or not being listened to.
And that’s before you factor in the emotional and organisational maturity required to move to a model that offers greater location flexibility for office workers. Whilst 82% of employees may say that flexibility has made them happier, only 22% of those say that their mental health has improved, 55% say that micro-management has increased and only a paltry 12% say that they are fully productive!
When it comes to hybrid working — like so many ways of working that have come before it (which I wrote about in Culture Fix here) — you can’t simply copy what another organisation has done or else read one article (or blog!) in Harvard Business Review and think that you have the right formula.
Moving to a more flexible way of working is still an experiment and if you have a mixed location workforce it’s one that you need to work hard to perfect. A new culture needs to be defined in line with the values of the organisation that speaks to the contribution that people make, not where that contribution is made.
New principles need to be agreed around how people will work together and new terms and conditions will need to be drawn up to ensure that expectations are set. Pay and benefits need to centre on the role being undertaken, not where it is being done, and managers need to be upskilled on how to inspire and motivate people, regardless of where they are.
There’s no doubt that embracing new ways of working can add value, but only if employees understand why it’s being done and that equity for all staff is considered, not just those who work in offices.