The new world of hybrid working – what it means for employers and managers

27th October 2021

Traditionally, workplace teams have been based together at a specific location, with colleagues collaborating in-person and around the same schedules. But, times have changed and new ways of working provide new challenges for both employees and employers.

Flexible working that allows staff to split their work between their employer’s location and home is quickly becoming the ‘new normal.’ More than two in five employers (41%) will have adopted hybrid working in two years’ time, a survey by Willis Towers Watson has found, with only three in 10 (30%) businesses expecting to have their workforce fully back on-site before 2023.

With hybrid working growing in popularity, and with the myriad of hybrid working models that are being adopted throughout businesses and organisations, it made sense that Marshall E-Learning looked to cover the complexities around this relatively modern way of working in our e-learning offering.

Although managers may have developed new skills in terms of managing a remote workforce, hybrid working brings unique challenges that are different from both predominantly remote and predominantly office-based working. Leaders and teams need to understand the psychological journeys that people go through during change, how this impacts performance both positively or negatively, and understand how it can also create anxiety and conflict.

Organisations have experienced the pandemic in different ways. The challenges presented by remote working, moving to digital platforms and the furlough scheme have meant that many organisations have had to change and pivot rapidly. For the majority of line managers and HR professionals planning, managing and evaluating their team’s hybrid work model is something they haven’t experienced before.

We talk to award-winning facilitator and a workplace mediator Mark Crabtree who has written the hybrid work module. With experience in the public, private, and Higher Education sector, Mark has over 30 years’ experience of leading the design, development, management, implementation and delivery/facilitation of impactful and engaging learning and organisation development strategies and initiatives.

Why did you get involved with this particular e-learning module for Marshall E-Learning?

There is plenty of talk about hybrid working and there have been a lot of column inches written about this subject. However, I think we talk about hybrid working without really considering what it is we are trying to achieve or consider why hybrid working is adopted. Employers may not always consider how it will impact employees, customers, service users and other key stakeholders. Hybrid working will have a significant impact on culture, talent acquisition and talent retention. In a sense, this e-learning asks the questions that need to be asked. I hope it will encourage organisations and leaders to reflect, review and reconnect before they reboot.

What are the top three challenges of hybrid working?

Only three! For me, it is the impact on culture, the real impact on staff engagement and the impact on incidental conversations and incidental learning opportunities that take place across organisations. How can we keep staff not only aligned to the strategy of the organisation but engaged? We also need to understand the impact of hybrid working, not only on the work, but on people’s lives outside of work too.

What should organisations that are adopting hybrid working be doing right now?

I believe that there needs to be a time for reflection for organisations and a time to review the journey they have undertaken. They should be thinking, how can they reconnect with employees, clients and stakeholders and empower their people?

How can organisations facilitate efficient hybrid working?

Organisations need to involve their employees and even customers or wider stakeholders in the design of hybrid working models. People will have stories to tell, ideas and concerns and they need to be listened to.

They also need to review hybrid working models regularly and be prepared to make changes as and when required. Rather than move to rigid processes or protocols, businesses need to keep things loose and flexible.

I strongly believe that it is now that organisations need to spend time to reflect, review, and reconnect in a way that engages their employees before a rapid move to hybrid working. As they say, the devil is in the detail. This new module will help HR and line managers understand the challenges and pitfalls but also opportunities that come with this relatively new model of working.

Here, at Marshall E-Learning, we’re delighted to have worked with Mark on this module. Working with him, it is evident that he has a deep interest in change, leadership and organisation development which comes across in the module content.

The Marshall E-Learning hybrid module enables employers to raise key questions and the content will stimulate leaders and organisations to think about hybrid working models more widely. Equality, inclusion and diversity remain key considerations in hybrid working. The course is standalone e-learning but builds upon our Lockdown Managers Toolkit e-learning.

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