Navigating the world of hybrid working as a C-suite leader can be exhausting. Discover the different ways in which you and your team can create the perfect hybrid workplace.
As a result of rapid technological change fused with a global pandemic, more businesses and organisations across the globe are adopting hybrid workplace models. Leaders and employees alike have been divided by this sudden change in work environments. According to ONS and Statista, in 2022 there was a higher proportion of people from ages 16 to 29 years who worked exclusively from home in the UK, while in the US those aged 25 to 34 were more likely to be offered full-time remote work.
Despite a cloud of uncertainty hanging over the idea of working between the office and home, a hybrid working setup can lead to a significant increase of productivity. So, what guidelines do C-suite leaders need to follow to create the perfect hybrid workplace for employees to follow both at home and at the office?
There are multiple factors to consider when thinking about hybrid working environments – we’ve simplified this into 10 key points that you and your team can follow with ease.
Creating the perfect hybrid workplace
- Consider redesigning your workplace setup
- Be transparent
- Check your digital tools
- Empower your team
- Be flexible and open to criticism
- Communicate regularly
- Divide work and personal life
- Learn from other people’s lessons
- Create a hybrid work schedule
- Secure your workplace setup
1. Consider redesigning your workplace setup
Switching to work mode while at home can be troublesome for most employees. The aim here is to transform their comfort zone into the ideal home office environment – a place that promotes productivity rather than procrastination. For those who have been tiptoeing around the idea of customising their dream workspace, now is the time to act.
One tip mentioned frequently by psychologists involves bringing a plant into the workspace. Other than adding a vibrant burst of colour to your work setup, experts state that plants can significantly increase productivity and help people better manage their stress while improving the air quality and wellbeing.
In addition to this, people have improved their workplace setup by investing in office gear. This could include standing desks, ergonomic office chairs, high-performance computers and, in some cases, artwork. These changes can make a big difference when it comes to productivity, creating a positive effect on their engagement.
2. Be transparent
The rules and working conditions are normally clear when at the office. On the other hand, these policies become somewhat foggy when the working environment extends to unfamiliar territory – your office at home.
C-suite leaders and senior management need to be clear and transparent about how hybrid working policies might differ depending on the different circumstances their employees find themselves in. For example, a company may outline a policy that states employees can work remotely for two days a week. Policies in general are created with flexible limits – companies should specify whether certain employees can work from home for an extra day. This transparency will create a sense of understanding within the workforce and allow room to review and discuss certain policies.
3. Check your digital tools
Having the right digital tools in your office and home setup is essential for making your tasks and processes more consistent, easier to manage and effective overall. As a result of the pandemic, more businesses have begun to use video-calling and chat software, in addition to in-person meetings, for communicating across different departments and teams.
Take the instant messaging platform, Slack. It has become increasingly popular, with more than 600,000 companies around the world using it to communicate with their colleagues.
It is up to the C-suite leadership to ensure that employees are using the best applications and systems available for the hybrid workplace. If the tools they are using just lack the sophistication and effectiveness needed, alternatives should be explored.
4. Empower your team
In most cases, transitioning to a hybrid working model requires taking on a ‘people-first’ leadership strategy according to different sources. Allowing employees to choose how they work as opposed to micromanaging is one way in which the hybrid workplace setup can succeed.
To further empower employees, allow them to put forward their ideas and have honest and meaningful conversations about how business processes and procedures are working within the organisation. No matter what position they are in, it is important to give your employees the skills, confidence and mindset to empower themselves.
This could include accommodating different types of workers by letting them take some responsibility for their own learning and development. For example, this could be something as simple as encouraging them to take on a training course to improve their leadership and confidence skills.
5. Be flexible and open to criticism
As a leader, you are a symbol of stability to your employees and should possess strong leadership traits such as integrity, self-awareness, respect, empathy and gratitude. At the same time, a good leader is also flexible, open to feedback and constructive criticism from team members. Moving to a hybrid environment means there is a further lack of face-to-face communication and interaction, leaving some things unsaid.
That feeling of apprehension within the hybrid workplace can be avoided by being open to suggestions on how to alter the leadership style. The most difficult of problems can be solved by encouraging inclusivity and letting employees have a say in the decision-making process.
6. Communicate regularly
Communication in the office is often carried out side-by-side as a team. When in a shared workspace, leaders are more easily able to spot signs of stress and low morale within their teams. With the move to the hybrid workplace model, this has been made more difficult.
It is important for leaders to check up on employees while learning about any issues or conflicts that arise. For example, some people may have concerns about their skills and competencies, unable to express their opinions on the matter while working from home – this can be prevented by staying in touch via a shared chat or communication channel.
Linking back to digital tools, some may be dissatisfied with the technological and digital experiences they encounter at work and at the office. Leaders need to recognise these issues and address them swiftly through regular communication.
7. Divide work and personal life
According to Capita, business leaders believe that the hybrid workforce will blur the lines between people’s personal and working lives. Balancing your working life and personal life can become demanding at times.
On this subject there is often a difference of opinion. Some believe that combining work and personal life has its benefits while others have stated that they will actively keep that divide intact. At times there can be a deliberate intersection between work and personal life, such as team meetings outside the office. For leaders who want to keep that work-life balance, it’s important to keep in mind the following: effective time management, stress management and burnout prevention. As a leader, employee wellbeing should always be on your agenda.
8. Learn from other people’s lessons
Organisations around the world have accepted the hybrid working model with open arms – most have already adapted while others are still learning. As a C-suite leader, it is important to take note of other companies successes and failures. Where are they seeing the benefits of hybrid working? What aspect is encouraging employees to become more productive? Can this be implemented into your future business plans?
To learn more about how hybrid workforces are being led in a controlled and structured way, it is important to examine the different types of hybrid working models and figure out which one is best for your business. The more common working models include:
- Working in shifts
- Office-first hybrid
- Hybrid-team split
- Remote-first hybrid
Not every company can easily pick and choose which hybrid setup will suit their needs best. Listening to employees and compromising between the flexibility of remote work and in-office work can help leaders determine what is best for achieving the company’s goals and objectives.
9. Create a hybrid work schedule
The hybrid working model and setup is based around flexibility and employees being able to dictate their own working hours, and business leaders are more than willing to comply with the new normal. To keep up with the demands of remote and on-site work, creating a hybrid work schedule can help focus on a specific list of tasks and deadlines by creating a tailored schedule to fit those needs.
In most cases combining remote and in-office work can be fairly simple. Employees can choose what days they come into the office and work remotely on other days. For a more rigid schedule, employees can discuss with leaders which specific days they should come in. One of the more popular hybrid work schedules is the 3:2 model. This is where employees spend three days in the office and two days at home.
10. Secure your workplace setup
Putting in the appropriate security measures to keep your company’s data and information safe is key when it comes to maintaining hybrid working environments. Experts say that there are a variety of cybersecurity risks associated with hybrid and remote working such as expanded attack surfaces, vulnerable networks and the exploitation of cloud-based infrastructures.
Securing the network and data at two different locations can be a challenge. One way in which leaders can protect their data and assets includes investing in cybersecurity awareness training for employees. With the right knowledge at hand, employees can better manage malicious attacks and cyber threats both in the office and in their hybrid setup at home.
- Invest in your dream workspace to increase comfort and productivity.
- Being transparent and flexible is the difference between success and failure.
- Make sure your digital tools are fit for purpose and secure employee data.
- Communicate with employees and adopt a ‘people-first’ stance.
- Create a schedule and follow it while setting clear expectations and boundaries.
The future of work is uncertain and C-suite leaders are faced with a number of challenges both at the office and at home. With this in mind, designing the perfect hybrid workplace is no easy feat. As businesses embrace new hybrid workplace models, they are taking the first steps towards creating a better environment for themselves and their teams.
C-suite leaders can benefit from learning where others were unsuccessful and share tips on how to deal with the shift from the traditional to hybrid workplace. These guidelines are in place for those looking for inspiration and innovation when the time comes for change. The question is: Will there be a perfect hybrid workplace model for your business? The only way to find out is to seek change where possible in aspects such as communication, digital tools or the physical design of your desk.
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