Updated: Aug 27, 2021
Over the past year, one big question has been on everyone’s mind. What does the future of work look like? If the answer is slowly starting to take shape for many organizations, one thing is clear: the future of work will involve a mix of in-person and remote working arrangements. Managers exhibiting exceptional leadership skills will be the most successful at manoeuvring within a hybrid workplace.
A New Reality Requiring Adaptation
The winning formula may look different for every business but a recent McKinsey survey showed that 9 out of 10 organizations intend on combining remote and on-site work in the near future. Motivations include staff well-being, safety and security, real estate costs, increased productivity and greater access to talent.
This may come as good news but management can expect a whole set of new challenges to arise.
Let’s not forget that aside from freelancers, remote work has only gained traction over the past few years and that to this day, most people have acquired professional experience in physical work environments in which people meet face-to-face and work hand-in-hand.
We may be used to technology but managing a team partially or entirely made up of remote workers is a different story and requires time, effort, adaptability and commitment from leadership.
Showing Up as a Strong Leader
In a virtual world, a lot of the usual cues are gone, making leadership skills even more important.
Zoom meetings don’t provide the same level of information as physical interactions, nor do they significantly contribute to create culture - unless handled with that goal in mind.
Surprisingly, a hybrid model combining entirely remote workers and others working from the office at least part-time can prove to be as or even more challenging than a 100% remote team, the risk being of generating two separate cultures.
As a leader, you act as the captain that steers the boat in the right direction. It is imperative that you communicate with confidence and ensure your people have the tools and resources to perform to the best of their ability and feel comfortable in doing so. Don’t pretend to have all the answers. Be open to change and suggestions while realizing that how you show up will impact how they react.
The devil is in the detail and it is by observing people’s reactions, witnessing their behaviors, and testing different approaches that you will know how best to handle the situation and exhibit leadership in doing so.
However, a leader can do so much in brushing up on its leadership skills. Training and coaching therefore becomes an interesting avenue to gain more perspective on oneself and access tools and techniques to elevate interpersonal capabilities.
Getting Started in Leading a Hybrid Workforce
1. Assess your own personal readiness as a leader
How do you feel about the changes you are faced with?
What biases or concerns do you have?
What can you do about them?
How might they impact your team?
Make sure to look at the big picture. Identifying how hybrid work can positively impact yourself, staff and the organization may help put things into perspective. As a leader, you are required to do what is best for the organization while taking into consideration the people you are responsible for. In any case, finding this out will allow you to explore your solutions and make intentional decisions for all moving forward.
2. Assess your team’s readiness
Two-thirds of American workers have reported feeling anxious about returning to work.
Gauge where your employees stand.
Are they happy about the situation?
If not, what is preventing them from committing?
Are there simple measures or accommodations that can be put in place to help?
Taking note of this and addressing it early on will help overall productivity and performance.
3. Seek feedback
When making decisions about organizational policies and processes to facilitate a hybrid workplace, don’t let chance be your guide.
Ask other members of the leadership team for input and advice. What are their strategies to help them lead their teams with more confidence in this evolving workplace?
A leader is also a good listener so don’t be afraid to ask staff for their input as well. Without promising anything, ask them what they think would be useful tools, processes and practices to make their work easier and improve team dynamics. Present it so that everyone understands they have a role to play.
After seeking input, create a clear, consistent policy and process to clearly outline your working expectations.
The next step will be to communicate your plan - clearly and confidently.
In our next post, we’ll discuss how critical efficient communication is in workplace, and how taking into account different types of personalities and communication styles can help bring your team together.
Through workplace training, coaching and human resource solutions, Intuity Performance applies a Whole Person Performance approach to cultivate an environment for growth within organizations.
Contact us to find out how we can elevate your leadership skills.