Prior to the pandemic, only 5% of the UK workforce worked from home, according to data from the Office of National Statistics. Further research conducted by the CIPD revealed that 65% of employers either did not offer regular working from home before Covid-19 or offered it to 10% or less of their workforce. However, now, 40% of employers expect more than half of their workforce to work regularly from home after the pandemic has ended.
As restrictions draw to a close, some employees still want to work from home, but most are seeking a balance between office and home. Data from the PwC Hopes and Fears survey confirms this, with 77% of UK employees preferring a mix of face-to-face and remote working.
Step forward, hybrid working
Many organisations are still adjusting to what hybrid means for them and the measures that need to be in place to ensure its success. It’s raised some key concerns for employers regarding the impact it could have on:
- Wellbeing and mental health
- Employee alignment to organisational culture and values.
- Performance coaching
- Exposure to leadership
- Learning and development
While these issues affect all employees, younger, inexperienced, or new workers pose the greatest concern for employers, especially if those people were recruited and onboarded remotely during the pandemic or have yet to meet all of their co-workers due to the flexible nature of hybrid working.
Hybrid environments could result in this demographic of workers missing out on mentorship opportunities and valuable observational learning from managers and senior employees. Although online collaboration tools and video platforms are helpful, there’s a question mark over how far they go to replicate in-person communication and support from colleagues and managers.
In an office, new employees can instantly access insights from a team of people at all levels whenever they need help or advice. They can also find inspiration from observing the people around them. While this can still be achieved online, the process is slower, with employees relying on colleague availability or typing out a message and awaiting a response.
Additionally, remote working means employees can miss out on valuable social interactions, which may impact relationship-building and potentially result in a cultural disconnect.
What can leaders do?
With hybrid working still in its infancy, leaders are increasingly exploring how they can empower employees to succeed in this environment. Here, we outline some of the ways that leaders can foster a hybrid work setup that will support and develop employees who are at the start of their career in particular.
Dedicated leadership time
In a hybrid environment, it can be difficult for leaders to monitor the contribution of each person and identify who is making an impact vs who may need further support. To avoid employees feeling overlooked or left out of growth opportunities, leaders should arrange regular one-on-one meetings to discuss progress and career aspirations.
Not only does this ensure junior employees get valuable facetime, but it provides leaders with the opportunity to reinforce the value of their contributions as well as the organisation’s vision. The more engagement employees have with senior leaders and their own manager, the more comfortable they will be to express opinions and build connections with their colleagues.
Shift the focus to development
Employee meetings with line managers can often focus on project status updates and performance reviews. While this might be suitable for more seasoned people, junior employees require focus on their progress and guidance on developing their skills.
Positive reinforcement is vital in building confidence in younger employees. Managers should set realistic goals and objectives over set timescales and outline what they need to do to achieve those goals, giving them the option to check back and ask questions as they go. Two way feedback is essential in these situations and should allow managers to highlight successes and earmark areas for improvement, ensuring any required support is provided at every step.
Encourage colleague networking
Working at home can result in all interactions being solely work-related. Employees can miss out on casual conversations, coffee breaks, lunchtime trips and water-cooler moments. Although productivity is a pertinent challenge for managers of hybrid teams, it’s crucial to facilitate opportunities for employees to catch up with one another.
This is particularly important for new employees who are still finding their feet. Casual conversations can lead to employees sharing their needs and any worries relating to the role that more tenured employees can help with. Plus, for people embarking on a career, building a personal network they can tap into in the future is invaluable.
Carving out time for employees to socialise, whether setting a date where everyone is in the office for lunch or hosting virtual events, is a great way to bring people together, particularly those working in different departments. Young employees and those new to the organisation will feel welcomed and are more likely to understand and buy into the culture from the outset.
Effective management in a hybrid environment
Omni understands that the effectiveness of your management teams impacts recruitment, performance and retention. The areas of focus for your leaders can be changeable, particularly in a hybrid work setup, so you must provide them with the proper training and support to help them achieve their goals and reach their potential.
Omni’s Management Training programmes provide a comprehensive and tailored solution to developing and upskilling managers of all levels, from team leaders to heads of department and directors. Find out more about our tailored remote or face-to-face management training solutions, or contact us on 0161 929 4343 or email firstname.lastname@example.org today.