Very useful statistics on the change to working practices shared by McKinsey Quarterly magazine, as the next big transformation that organisations will have to make. I work with an increasing number of executives who tell me how much they hate the phrase “hybrid working”. When we talk, the reasons for this strong emotion stem from their anger that things have changed, and this is another complex issue they must deal with. If you are facing a similar situation, I hope you find this guidance useful.
Whatever we want to call it, post pandemic working practices in the knowledge economy will be different. More than a year of working from home has put where and with whom we work on the agenda. Employees all have different needs, and there is a spectrum of desire for a return to the office and staying at home permanently.
Spectrum of choices for hybrid working
In my experience of running workshop to help organisations define the scope of their hybrid working, one conclusion we return to time and again is that you cannot please all the people. We need to have a grown-up conversation that considers factors other than what employees want. We must look at this through the needs of our customers, our suppliers, and our organisations.
Let us start by looking at customer need for connectivity, access to information and the ‘human touch’ of relationships with your staff that are consistent and stable. How much have customers done for themselves in the pandemic? How much access to information and services do they want online? Do they expect hours of service to have migrated more to 24/7 because their own working hours have changed?
How are our suppliers working, what innovations are they making, what points of connectivity will we have with them? Have their hours of operation changed, have they automated more processes, have they moved more things to “self-service” so that we must do more to access the supplies we need?
As an organisation we have statutory responsibilities for pay and conditions, and that includes health and safety and complying with taxation rules. How much equipment can we supply for working from home before we become liable for the health and safety of your home as a remote workspace? How much access to data are we happy to provide remotely, not knowing who else is in your workspace and the security of this data? Can we meet our strategic objectives if a large amount of management time is spent coordinating resources who don’t want to meet face to face with those who do, at different times and in different locations?
Defining our future
Whatever style of working we adopt, this is a cultural change, so I have found it important to get those involved to paint a detailed picture of their current values and beliefs, the glue that holds everyone together. Effectively we end up describing the magic of the organisation, the reasons everyone wants to work there in the first place.
We can use this to evaluate the attractiveness and the practicality of all the ideas that form our new approach. I have found the advantage of this approach is that by using our culture as the starting point, we move away from the singular issue of what works for each employee, and we keep “the greater good” on the agenda.
One this is for sure, an autocratic decision on future working practices does not work – just look at Apply Inc this week, and the reaction of their staff to the statement that they are expected back in the office at least 3 days a week.
Note: This article was published on LinkedIn on June 6, 2021