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Hybrid Working: Top Tactics to Neutralise Its Most Lethal Risks

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Over the past number of years, hybrid working models have become the new normal in corporate settings, with many employees coming to expect or demand some form of flexibility to be offered when it comes to their working arrangements.

The experts at Hogan Assessments – the global leader in workplace personality assessment and leadership consulting – have examined some of the major risks associated with the working model to determine how to tackle these challenges best and create a successful hybrid environment where teams can thrive.

Tactic #1 – Detecting absentee leadership symptoms

Absentee leaders have always been part of the corporate picture, but hybrid working can provide them with even better camouflage. Concretely, they are those who are disengaged from their teams.

Absentee leaders don’t communicate with or actively lead the employees who rely on their guidance. To avoid becoming absentee leaders, managers should look at the effectiveness of their teams to gauge if their employees are effective, communicative, and empowered in their roles.

“Other strategies for neutralizing this risk, in particular, include setting up open-door time or one-on-one check-in meetings, creating agendas to structure meetings, offering opportunities for employees to share feedback and ideas, and investing in team building”, explained Ryne Sherman, PhD, Chief Science Officer, Hogan Assessments.

Tactic #2 – Staying tuned in to silent demands

Quiet quitting, completing one’s minimum work requirements without going above and beyond or bringing work home after hours is not a new phenomenon brought about by hybrid working.

However, the move to digital workspaces has made this process more difficult for managers to detect and counteract. Open communication and setting clear goals are key to a successful hybrid model.

This can also help to combat the effects of quiet quitting, noted Dr Sherman: “By putting in place a system that allows for and encourages open and honest discussions between employees and managers, employees will feel seen and heard, while managers will feel reassured knowing that all tasks they have assigned are being completed efficiently. This is what will make teams run more smoothly.”  

Tactic #3 – Incorporating new hires effectively

Onboarding any new employee can be a difficult task. The long-term effects of poor onboarding on new hires could negatively affect the quality of their work and their attitudes towards a company.

“Quality onboarding is more than just logistics and ensuring they have the equipment needed to do the job, making them feel welcomed, and having someone on hand to monitor their workload can play an important role in making them feel engaged with the company and motivated,” explained Dr Sherman.

“Hybrid working can be incredibly beneficial to employees, but those benefits can only be felt once the correct amount of time has been given to them in person to allow them to feel confident in completing tasks independently.”

To ensure that employees are set up for success during onboarding sessions, appoint an informal mentor to get them acquainted with the company culture and answer questions. This mentor can then help them to build relationships, explain how work gets done, and be a knowledgeable entity that can check in on them in both a virtual and physical setting to make the transition go more smoothly.

Tactic #4 – Staying focused

Distractions are present in any working environment, but working from home can often pose even greater challenges to remaining focused. Aside from removing distractions, such as phones, televisions, and other entertainment sources, one of the most effective strategies is creating a dedicated workspace that helps divide work from home.

In the absence of a commute, having a workspace detached from the areas of your home where you relax and unwind can help employees mentally “clock out” when work ends or take a break when needed.

“Even though commuting might not be extremely popular, it works as a buffer between work and private life. It’s crucial to find other tactics to disconnect your brain from work, whether that means cooking your favourite dish in the kitchen, going for a bit of exercise, or spending time on one of your hobbies,” commented Dr Sherman.

Tactic #5 – Building team cohesion

Introducing hybrid working could challenge teamwork and relationships within a company in new ways. “Hybrid work creates the opportunity to spend meaningful time collaborating and building relationships in the office.

However, hybrid work also requires more extensive coordination of meetings and schedules, from determining when others are available and in the office to figuring out how to lead hybrid meetings with part of the audience online,” explained Dr Sherman.

According to a report by Microsoft, almost 4 in 10 hybrid workers say they don’t know when and why to come into the office. Business leaders need to “reimagine the office’s role” and establish a clearer hybrid working model to bring added value to workers and encourage them to be on-site.

Creating experiences for the hybrid workplace around your company’s core values is important. “For example, if your organisation values teamwork, you might arrange an in-person or virtual team-building activity or schedule certain days that managers will be on-site to help employees make the most of their office days and enable greater levels of collaboration”, concluded Dr Sherman.

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