A balanced conversation about hybrid working flexibility
One of the key challenges in establishing a new hybrid pattern of work will be balancing three factors
- individual choice – people are enthused by the opportunity to develop a pattern of work that works for them personally and have become used to greater flexibility and autonomy when working from home. They want to continue to be able to exercise this choice and the more flexibility we give the more attractive we will be as employers
- collective consideration – few jobs operate in isolation, and it will be a lucky team that finds that when they add up the sum of their individual choices they match perfectly. People will have different preferences (different life stages, different commutes, different roles) but there will need to be some compromises to ensure overlap times for collaboration, customer contact or other factors. It may also be necessary to take into account the choices of other key customers or teams you have interfaces with. We will need to align I work in patterns more broadly than just inside our own team. Individuals will need to exercise choice that is constrained by and in consideration of the choices of others. This will require either willing collaboration or steering by the organisation.
- business considerations – sometimes the business may require certain days in the office or a manager may determine that it is important for everyone to be in the room for important topics. This might not always be convenient for everybody, particularly those people with significant commutes.
There may also be other factors that mean, when you add up the individual choices of all the teams there is a need to, for example, spread the load on office occupancy or we may discover other factors that haven’t been taken into account by the teams themselves.
The way this balance is managed will be a challenge in collaboration, leadership and individual flexibility. It will have a large impact on determining our hybrid culture.
We do not think this can be mandated from the top down, although there may need to be some guidelines on what’s expected from the point of view of business considerations (both to give the managers the legitimacy to make the call, and perhaps to limit some of the more over-enthusiastic meeting organisers)
It will require time for teams to discuss and agree the pattern that works for them, there will be both top down and bottom-up discussions. We need to equip our leaders with the capability and facilitation skills to lead these new types of conversations.
Many of our clients require the pattern of work to be approved by an individual’s manager and we recommend that at this stage there is an explicit check that the individuals preference considers the impact and balances the needs of colleagues, customers, key interfaces, and business needs.
If you would like to find out more about equipping your leaders to facilitate this discussion and develop broader hybrid working skills, please get in touch.
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