Shifting the discussion around hybrid working

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min read
September 14, 2023
May 21, 2024
A man sitting on the sofa working from home
In this article

It’s not where but how that matters

Every week there seems to be another employer demanding their employees return to the workplace. Tech giants such as Zoom, Amazon and Meta alongside more traditional organisations such as Disney and JP Morgan Chase have all stated they want their employees to come into the office for most of the week.

This is not a popular move with many employees, who value the freedom and flexibility hybrid working offers. EY’s Work Reimagined Survey found that nine out of 10 employees want flexibility in where and when they work.

This conflict between employers and employees is not good for either party. It breeds frustration and resentment on both sides which is not conducive to a productive, happy working environment. The time has come to move the conversation on from where employees work to how they spend their time during the working day.

The important questions to ask are:

  • Do employees have clear and relevant objectives that contribute to the overall goals of the business?
  • Do they have the right skills to complete these tasks?
  • Do they have the right support to help them complete these successfully?
  • Do they have enough time in the day outside of meetings to achieve their objectives?

None of these rely on an employee being physically in a particular place to be successful. The focus needs to shift from location to approach. Taking a fresh look on how an employee should spend their time is the key to making hybrid working truly work. A continuous performance management approach, which is supported by platforms like Appraisd, provides a structure to both pose and track the answers to these questions.

When considering how employees work now and how this could be done better, one key thing to re-imaging is meetings.

Ditching the meeting madness

How many people do you know who seem to spend their working day in meetings? Looking at research, the more senior you are, the more meetings you are likely to have taking up a huge proportion of the working week. While junior employees have on average 10 meetings a week, those at senior level have almost double that.

It is not just the time meetings take up that’s an issue, it’s the fact that often this time is wasted. Almost three quarters of senior leaders say meetings are unproductive. This could be because the wrong people attend, too many people attend, there’s a lack of meaningful contributions, there’s no follow up, no clear agenda or a host of other reasons. All this adds up to actual working time being squeezed leading to stress, frustration and inertia.

Of course, some meetings are vital, but many are not. Spending hours in them can be hugely draining. The impact is even worse for remote workers, stuck staring at a screen for hours which means when they do finally have time to get on with their work, they lack both the energy and enthusiasm to do so effectively.

Encouraging people to think smarter about when, how and where they need to collaborate with others will go a long way to make employees more productive and engaged.

Regular check-ins – meetings that matter

Building a strong relationship between line managers and employees is an essential building block for creating a focused and aligned workforce. Each needs to know what the other is working on, what is going well and where support is required. This becomes even more important when the two aren’t physically sat together. Regular check-ins provide the framework to construct a productive dialogue and keep both on the same page, no matter where they are based.

Hybrid or remote working check-ins

If employees are spending some or all their time away from the workplace, it’s important to make sure this arrangement is working as well as it could. Short, regular check-ins devoted to the topic ensure hybrid or remote working is productive for all concerned.  These conversations should cover:

  • Their working environment set-up
  • How well they feel included with the team and the business
  • Their productivity and performance
  • Their work/life balance
  • What support could help them work better

The workplace is constantly changing, so it makes sense to regularly review these arrangements to make sure they are keeping on with what is required and adjusting them accordingly.

A successful hybrid working arrangement requires both the manager and the employee to be happy with the arrangement and know what is expected of them. Our Hybrid Charter Checklist can help you set the ground rules and our hybrid or remote working check-in template can ensure this remains productive and relevant.

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