Work Life

Another year of hybrid working: Three leadership lessons for 2022

Photo of Holger Reisinger
Posted
April 15, 2022
Reading time
4 minutes

Last year, I shared my thoughts on some of the key lessons that I’d learned through roughly a year of leading fully remote teams. While the distance between colleagues had posed a challenge, the fact that everyone was going through these changes together created a sense of solidarity and understanding.

What teams experienced in the 12 months following the outbreak of a global pandemic was far more than an experiment with remote work; many employees and leaders simultaneously underwent a collective awakening to the fragility of life and the opportunities of what work could be in a (post-) pandemic era.

This blend of fear and hope bonded people in ways that the pre-pandemic status quo could never have. With the backdrop of a global pandemic, remote work was an experience that, in many ways, brought us closer together than ever before.

But now, with the transition into hybrid work, the experience is not collective or uniform in the same way that it was with remote. In fact, you hear all too often that there is no one-size-fits-all hybrid model. In a world of ever-increasing customization, hybrid allows individuals to fine-tune the experience of work in a way that optimizes time and space to specific needs. In other words, different arrangements work in different ways for different organizations, teams and individuals. Amidst all this ambiguity, there are trends that apply across hybrid work.

1. To maximize flexibility, give employees autonomy.

Leaders know from countless studies that employees want flexibility in the future of work. As many have been leaving their jobs — reportedly in search of greater flexibility — leaders can see that this desire for flexibility is serious. But as with any research, the answers you get depend upon the questions you ask.

READ
New Jabra research finds professional audio devices increase inclusion in virtual meetings

In the Jabra Hybrid Ways of Working 2021 Global Report, the team also asked about flexibility. And just like virtually every other hybrid working study to date, the data confirmed that employees do, in fact, want flexibility.

They want access to multiple work locations, and they want more flexible working hours. However, the Jabra team was also interested in how flexibility actually plays out in relationships between employees, management and organizational policies.

As such, the research also inquired into employee autonomy in the context of hybrid work. The data found that 61% of employees surveyed reported that they would prefer to decide themselves when they need to work at the office versus work from home, while 65% of respondents said setting their own schedule is one thing managers can do to make the hybrid work environment comfortable.

These statistics point not only towards increased flexibility of time and space but also for increased autonomy for employees to make their own choices about where and when to do their work. To lead a happy and productive workforce into the hybrid future, leaders not only need to think about facilitating flexibility but also empowering employee autonomy.

2. For successful employee attraction and retention, hybrid is a must.

It’s difficult to speak about hybrid work without nodding to the major changes in labor trends. Early in the pandemic, changes in labor — namely, increased unemployment — were sparked mainly by macroeconomic shifts outside the control of individual employees or even individual organizations.

But as economies stabilized throughout 2021, the world saw a huge spike in employee attrition rates, widely attributed to a desire for safer working conditions, better pay and a trend toward self-employment. In response to what was deemed the Great Resignation, organizations are scrambling to hang onto their top talent.

READ
How leaders can leverage flexible technology to attract top talent

There’s an intimate link between hybrid work and employee attraction and retention. Jabra data shows that 59% of the global workforce surveyed wouldn’t work for a company that required them to come into the office five days a week, and 63% of millennials surveyed have already considered changing jobs for an employer that has hybrid working options.

If organizations are going to succeed in attracting and retaining employees, establishing a hybrid working model based on maximum employee autonomy and flexibility will be essential.

3. Success in hybrid depends upon whether you have the right technology in place.

It’s no secret that having employees constantly moving between different locations on different days will pose a challenge. But this challenge is largely seen as something that, with the right technology, can be overcome and even turned into an advantage. In fact, according to the same Jabra survey, 85% of employee respondents report that being confident in their technology allows them to excel at work. Which hybrid technologies do leaders need to look towards to help them build a high-performing workforce?

Eighty-four percent of employees surveyed believe that it is collaboration technologies that will create a more equal and inclusive workforce. To achieve these high levels of inclusivity, leaders and IT decision makers need to explore how their tools help employees stay connected. There are a number of tools available in the market, but each should be considered for its contribution to connecting employees in more intimate and more human ways. If employees are to be able to stay connected from home, the office and anywhere in between, they’ll need flexible collaboration and communication technologies that can turn any space into a workspace.

READ
Workspace Wednesdays

Hybrid work has arrived. Getting the right practices and technologies in place will determine your organization’s success, not in some abstract future, but right now.

This article was originally published on Forbes.com.

Share the article