With the Work Life Balance Act of 2023, employees have the right to request hybrid working.
Hybrid working can be refused on certain grounds but the legislation is there to recognise ‘the importance of family life and an improved quality of life for all workers by supporting employees to achieve a better balance between their home and work lives”, according to Roderic O’Gorman a Minster of State.
From the employer’s perspective, managing this policy is not going to be an easy task. I work with business owners and leaders who manage office based, hybrid and remote workers, and I help them to create a culture that attracts and retains top talent. People leaders are now required to manage the performance of people that they rarely meet in person and some of whom have very little desire to return to the workplace.
This seems to be on the basis that the value or the benefit of returning to the office is not clear to them.
Throw into the mix multigenerational age cohorts with differing values, motivators and cultural conditioning and you may have a potentially explosive mix of various requests, demands and expectations on your hands as a business owner or leader.
While I personally see the value in bringing people physically together in a work space, it is clear that office-based culture is changing forever. The office setting as we knew it is in some cases non-existent, and as a result, strong leaders are needed now more than ever. The requirement for leaders to inspire a diverse workforce toward the achievement one goal, one vision and one mission is still a requirement. That has not changed and possibly will never change. But the means and ways of doing so have transformed and require a different type of leader.
What is the advice that I would offer to business owners, and leaders who are faced with the task of motivating staff in all types of working arrangements, to achieve desired goals and levels of output? It is still an emerging issue and we are seeing the tip of the iceberg at present, however here are five tips that I’ve gathered based on my experience of working with leadership teams in the post-covid workplace:
1: Accept that the change is here to stay:
We all wondered how to bring people back into the office after the situation with Covid. Now we know that hybrid working is here to stay. New legislation means that there are penalties for non-compliance and potential work-related grievances to arise. To avoid this, be sure to liaise with your HR-professionals on each case, so that you can ensure you’re applying the requirements of the legislation fairly and without bias.
2: Watch out for your own conditioning and bias:
Making sweeping statements that working from home is a way to avoid doing work, won’t cut it anymore! The onus is with the employer to set out clear deliverables, KPI’s and targets. The responsibility then lies with the employee to deliver these targets. If the results are being delivered successfully and the employee is showing a willingness to do a good job, then where is the problem? Be prepared to be able to hold these conversations and still explain the value of having people together, in person where you feel it is a requirement and adds value.
3: Monitor yourself for fear-based leadership tactics
Is your concern with the lack of eagerness to return to the office exposing a lack of trust in your employees? If you have set clear goals and expectations, and made them measurable, working from home will eventually expose individuals who have yet to learn how to discipline themselves to get the work done. If that happens that will require a different conversation relating to performance feedback and goal-setting.
4: Make the office days count
I’ve heard employees complain that when they come into the workplace, they spend their day on zoom or teams’ meetings which they could have done from home. To me, this is poor planning and lack of foresight on account of all involved. Leadership now requires the ability to speak to a multitude of genders, age cohorts and cultural ethnicity.
The opportunity for creative problem solving and team cohesiveness exercises when in person, in my experience, can work really well. This requires more thought and planning on behalf of the management team.
5: Become a role model for authentic leadership
Good leadership is developing authentic relationships with those around you, having presence, and being able to motivate others towards a desired goal or outcome. To do this, you as a leader will be required to dig deep and undertake a personal development journey that is more of a marathon than a sprint. In my experience, the leaders who are truly inspirational and the ones that people want to follow, have an authentic style that is less ego-driven and more ‘down to earth’ as many would describe it. To me, it’s called humility and that’s a word we don’t hear enough of when it comes to inspirational leadership.
If you are struggling with maximising team performance, or handling the myriad of issues that can come when looking at working arrangements and team cohesiveness, please contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org