Our collective mindset has shifted as we emerged from the pandemic. For many, myself included, experiencing flexibility at work has created space for a better quality of life. We now seek new ways of working that provide choice and autonomy in deciding where, when, how and why we work. In fact, it is now a major factor in one’s choice of employer, and with the ‘Great Resignation’ upon us, leaders are tasked with rethinking organisational culture and leadership practices to retain and attract high-performing talent. Many knowledge-based organisations have taken the opportunity to experiment with hybrid ways of working where the physical office is no longer the central focus of the workplace. Rather, time spent on work and the location in which that work takes place becomes increasingly independent, and multiple workspaces emerge as a result.
At Veldhoen + Company, we have partnered with organisations in Australia as they trialled different return to work approaches and hybrid working strategies over the past two years. We are excited to share the experiences we have gathered with you. Additionally, we also surveyed over 1,500 respondents across a broad range of sectors to understand how people in Australia were experiencing working remotely or in a hybrid way for an extended period. All these insights can be found in our newly launched white paper: On the Edge of Hybrid: Lessons from the Australian Experience.
Perhaps not too surprisingly, our research indicates that over 80% of respondents would like to continue working from home at least two days per week, and less than 5% said they do not want to work from home at all. Of those who chose to work between multiple locations, there was a clear distinction between the types of activities they would like to perform remotely and at the office. The home was best suited to individual work and the office best supported work that was collaborative, creative and social in nature.
For leaders, understanding how they can support their employees across vastly different settings is critical in adopting a hybrid working strategy. Although there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach, applying a choice-centric approach provides employees with autonomy to make choices on how they work. Our experience has shown that this often leads to increased employee satisfaction, productivity, and engagement.
To successfully apply this strategy, we found that leaders have had to rethink fundamental organisational leadership practices. Three critical factors support employees in navigating new ways of working: building trust, creating clarity and focusing on outcomes.
- By establishing a trusting relationship assessed via what, rather than how outcomes are delivered, organisations empower employees to manage their time and integrate a greater sense of well-being into their workday.
- When ways of working become increasingly asynchronous, creating clarity for employees is essential. Clarity provides employees with the information they need to make empowered and timely decisions when their leader is not immediately available.
- With trusting relationships and clarity present, an outcomes focus is enabled. Leaders are consequently freed up to focus on priorities beyond the day-to-day management of their direct reports.
Although none of this is new to leadership, these practices are brought to the fore in hybrid workplaces. Organisations that are successful in adopting such practices are not only creating engaged workforces and boosting productively. They are collectively building a better world of work.
For more information about hybrid ways of working, please download a copy of On the Edge of Hybrid: Lessons from the Australian Experience. If you would like to discuss further, please contact me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org