“Hybrid working” – what are people doing and what’s right for you?

December 7, 2021

When the dictionaries are updated for the words and phrases of 2021, it is a sure bet that “hybrid working” will be on the list.  But what does this phrase really mean?

At its heart, it is an acknowledgment that how we think about people working has to be confronted.

Yet, what is equally obvious is that some leaders do not want to have this hard look at their business, and even more importantly, their own bias and attitudes.

The issue of inclusion and diversity has (rightly) been getting increasing attention – and in particular there is a challenge that people need to make sure that they are aware of their own “unconscious bias” when setting up systems inside their business.

However, we have observed that most of the conversations around hybrid working are fundamentally underpinned by a positive certainty from those in leadership positions that people need to spend some time in the office.

The debate about setting hybrid working policies for 2022 and beyond therefore seems to be resolving itself around “how many days should that be?” and “who should make the choices as to how days are selected?”.

However, at the recent PEI conference one of the senior executives on the panel MM&K hosted made the very pertinent observation that “we just don’t know what will work – so we are going to experiment”.

This simple comment created the realisation that many organisations, consciously or unconsciously are applying historical ways of thinking for a current and future problem.

We would therefore suggest that for 2022, instead of feeling that your organisation has to “solve” this problem now and have a certain policy about hybrid working in place – take a more courageous approach and say, “we will see”.

It is likely that teams will find their own rhythm if given the authority to do so – and if the process is communicated well and clearly, teams can be monitored and measured by the leadership team, with small interventions being effectively offered from this “helicopter” viewpoint.

Should you want to have someone help you explore your thinking on this issue, please contact Stuart James.

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