As businesses across the UK tentatively begin the process of opening up again, a new reality has dawned in the life of the office worker. Unlike customer facing jobs – such as retail or hospitality – many office workers have been able to continue to do their job from home, without too many issues. Yes, they’ll be missing their colleagues and the social aspect of being in the office. But, when it comes down to being fully able to carry out their job from home, or any other location, there are no issues.
So, how does that impact managers and team leaders who may now find themselves in a position of leading a hybrid team? Not all of your team may want to come back to the office – full-time or part-time – which may mean that you are now managing someone you only see on occasion, as opposed to every day.
How will that impact your management style? How will it impact the dynamic of your team? Is it possible to truly manage and motivate when your team are in different places on different days?
Here are just some of the key “sticking points” that have crossed my mind:
- As the leader, how do you manage these various circumstances while treating everyone fairly?
- How do we build fairness and flexibility into our management style to support the staff in the office and the staff working from home?
- How do we keep on top of who is in the office and who is out?
- What’s the best way to communicate, to keep comms in sync?
- What is the best way to structure days in the office and from home to get the best out of people and ensure as easy a transaction as possible?
- How do we limit the stress levels of this new transition?
As a manager or team leader, you will want to avoid an ‘us versus them' mentality of hybrid working. Create and set expectations – get the team involved in the discussions around when the team needs to meet, how we communicate, does everyone need to be involved, how to access information etc. How often do we use video comms, phone, email?
Don’t allow the office chat or ‘in jokes’ that would exclude those who are not in the office – it is your job as a leader to ensure inclusion during these times. Equally, try not to forget those not in front of you – it is easy to have time taken by those in the room with you, however what about those at home? Look at who you are spending time with and make sure each member of your team gets the same attention and support.
Leading with compassion and empathy is crucial as you and your team work out a routine that suits everyone.
More than ever, your team will need your support. Ask them: what is your preferred routine? What are your fears about moving to hybrid working? As a manager, you aren’t necessarily expected to know all the answers – especially as this situation is so new and still evolving – but it is important that you listen to what your team has to say.
More than even, watch for burnout – this return to a new norm could be a real trigger. Defining clear working hours may help with this. It is easy enough for those in the office to leave at 5.30 pm, are the home-based workers signing off then as well?
Moving forward, you now get the chance to shake things up, so make it fun! Why not dedicate some time for fun chat like weekend plans and Netflix recommendations – this can be over Zoom or Teams or in person (or a mix of both!). What about themed coffee catch ups or lunches … do we still wear pink on Wednesdays?
We want to empower our teams to feel they can do their best – set them up for success! Take heart in the fact this probably won’t be easy, however, we are, once again, all in this together.
If you need help attracting great talent in the Office Services or Marketing space, or are looking to make a career move, don’t hesitate to drop me an email
to set up a chat.