Posted on: 8th August 2022
Reading time: 6 mins
As the workspace moves beyond the conventional office environment, managers have the potential to lead change, motivate employees, enhance cohesion, and help cut costs. Here’s how.
The growing shift towards hybrid working places businesses at the forefront of an operational revolution. One that could see them become more effective, boost employee satisfaction and reduce fixed costs. But adjusting to this paradigm shift may prove intimidating for some businesses as they strive to find the perfect balance between their operational necessities and their employees’ working preferences.
Whatever changes are wrought at the executive level, it’s up to management teams to lead that change, facilitating positive outcomes for both the organisation as a whole and for individual employees.
Managers are effectively the glue that holds an organisation together. And as the workforce becomes increasingly decentralised, that glue needs to become much stronger. It needs to provide cohesion without rigidity. It needs to be pliable while still providing structure. But how can managers walk that difficult line in the face of a changing landscape?
As they strive to find their “new normal,” businesses are rethinking their workplace strategies and seeing that embracing change is far preferable than attempting to revert back to previous methods. The truth is that most employees would prefer not to return to the office on a full-time basis. According to the Office of National Statistics, 84% of people who had to work from home due to the pandemic have stated that they would now prefer to divide their time between working in the office and working at home.
Many are realising that the proverbial toothpaste cannot be put back in the tube. Rather than attempting to rebuild previous operational models, more and more businesses are coming to realise the benefits of hybridised working with decentralised offices and meeting facilities.
And there’s no denying that hybrid is here to stay. Just this year, the proportion of people working hybrid has risen from 13% in early February 2022 to 24% in May 2022. The percentage working exclusively from home has fallen from 22% to 14% in the same period.
Moreover, IWG research shows that three times the number of FTSE 250 companies intend to use the hybrid model, compared to those looking to revert to their old pre-pandemic operations. Studies carried out in 2021 revealed that 77% of employees consider working closer to home would be a top priority, while a further 87% state a preference for the hybrid working model.
This ongoing shift places more emphasis on the manager than ever more. To ensure new ways of working do not widen the gap between company leadership and employees, managers must be proactive intermediaries that maintain cohesion from top to bottom. Here are some ways managers can thrive in this role and be the vanguards for change in the fast-changing workplace.
Employees spending more time working remotely may seem like a barrier to contact time with management. But with proper planning, it can actually be more conducive to it. Sayma Salik, people partner at NHS Central Surrey Health stated in one of the CIPD’s hybrid working case studies, “To make things more personal, I have regular individual catch-ups via Teams to discuss work-related matters and use that as an opportunity to build relationships”.
Not only is it important to make time for individual employees, it’s also essential to remember that everyone’s situation is different. Some may thrive while working at home, while others may find that it exacerbates stress. Some may see returning to the office as a huge boost to their mental health, while others may find it to be quite the opposite. For instance, Business in the Community’s research reveals that 55% of employees find it difficult to ‘switch off’ and stick to normal working hours when working remotely.
The beauty of the hybrid approach is that it empowers managers to tailor individual employees’ working experiences to what helps them to be at their most productive and most comfortable.
Managers may also benefit from coaching employees on how to balance their time spent in different working environments. Suggest criteria for when a visit to company HQ is necessary, when a visit to a shared flexspace is more worthwhile, and when it might be best to work from home.
Encourage team members to be intentional in their work, discussing with teams which points in projects are best managed in the office together, and where it’s best to splinter off and work from home individually or in smaller groups sharing a flexspace.
Effective managers know when to assert control, and when to relinquish it. Decentralised decision-making can provide a sense of empowerment or autonomy for employees who are starting to feel disengaged in their work outside of company HQ. What this looks like in practice will depend on the nature of your business. However, examples may include:
●Giving employees autonomy over their working hours or schedules
●Enabling employees to set and manage their own deadlines
●Affording hybrid employees more purchasing power without the need to get executive approval
●Using flexspaces to enable managers and employees to collaborate together
Managers may be looking for a new status-quo. But in doing so, they need to realise that change is now endemic. We remain in a state of flux.
Managers should help employees feel empowered and supported by giving them the freedom to decide which model works best for them as their circumstances change.
At Regus, we can empower you with the freedom and flexibility to adapt to change. With first-class office and meeting facilities all over the world, we provide you with the highest standard of business-grade tech, without the costs and obligations that come with conventional office space.
Want to know more about how we can help with hybrid working? Give us a call.
We’ll get you set up straight away.