Hybrid working is now a recognised part of our day to day lives, and whilst a great number of organisations may feel they’ve ‘mastered’ the art of hybrid working during the pandemic, research carried out by Leading Edge found expensive mistakes are being made and huge opportunities are still not being seized.
Two years ago, long before the pandemic entered our lives and daily news cycle, professionals already identified hybrid working as critical to their organisations. According to Leading Edge’s most recent report, the High Performance Insights, more than half of senior leaders (61%) said hybrid working was of high or critical importance.
Organisations that have been able to embrace change and thrive in such a complex world are uniquely prepared to adapt to new ways of working and accelerate their high performance to prosper through the pandemic and into 2022.
Leading Edge defines connected hybrid working as moving from flexible working to high-performance hybrid solutions. It is the practice of building successful strategies using a combination of new technology, optimised organisational design, role refinement, and engagement through collaboration in order to help teams thrive, not just survive.
True ‘connected hybrid working’ means creating an optimum working approach that’s carefully tailored to your specific operation and the ability to successfully engage every team member to play their part in the organisation’s success.
Organisations also need to be transparent that it’s simply not possible for all roles and all individuals to suddenly work remotely or differently; the need for transparency and equity in our job re-design is an important component of the hybrid conversation.
Leading Edge defines three ‘tensions of leadership’, within which five aspects of mindset, behaviour, and skills differentiate great leaders from good leaders. Viewing this framework through the ‘connected hybrid working’ lens shows the additional complexities that leaders now need to embrace and be enabled to deliver.
The three tensions of leaders – and how they show up through the connected hybrid working lens
1. Find ways to win
Drive performance outputs not inputs
Be intentional in the role of Sensemaker
Embrace technology for new ways of working
2. Be your authentic self
Find the balance that works for you
Flex your trust muscle
Embrace your vulnerability
3. Be in service of others
Create a safe and inclusive climate
Consciously nurture connections – beware of the visibility trap
Dial up your curiosity to care
Three things great leaders are doing right now
Victoria Freer-Hewish, Director of Client Experience at Leading Edge says, “Now the first flush of excitement about hybrid working has died down, we are moving beyond the transactional ‘how can we manage the workload’ conversations and into the drive for high performance teams and high levels of productivity and impact, while building engagement and belonging without the mecca of the office. Being intentional about our collaborative working opportunities and ensuring value from the times we are together takes co-ordination and planning.”
Glanbia, a world-leading global nutrition group, made ‘connected hybrid working’ a core priority of their organisation, making unique progress in their approach to help them succeed through the recent global pandemic. But what was first instigated by the pandemic, has since become a fresh, exciting, and successful way for their culture to unlock continued high-performance.
The intent of Glanbia’s Smart Working Model was to re-focus their efforts on how work was being accomplished and its outcomes, versus ‘when’ and ‘where’ it got done. Using a combination of new technology, organisational and role re-design, alongside an intentional leadership focus, Glanbia’s model was built from the ground up with employees at the very centre of every decision – based on business requirements, personal preferences, and role requirements.
Adopting a test and learn approach and trying to figure out the best way to be productive and collaborative was encouraged, demonstrated, and modelled by the leadership team themselves; it was a “test” environment that allowed them to see what worked and what did not.
Glanbia’s Sue Sweem said of their Smart Working Model: “It is more change for both our leaders and employees but we want to retain our talent and be as flexible as possible. It will be important to continue to listen to our employees via survey feedback and react to their needs while also maintaining the needs of the business. In order to succeed, it will mean all groups working together to achieve the right balance.”