A leadership expert’s thoughts on hybrid working | Mantle
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18 Aug 2021

A leadership expert’s thoughts on hybrid working

Is hybrid working the answer when it comes to workplace productivity and employee well-being? Leadership expert, Ruth Donde, uses her own personal experiences to explain that the adoption of hybrid working offers much promise – but only under the right conditions.

The way we work has changed dramatically

2020 marked a dramatic change in the way that many of us now work. Many NZ leaders had to quickly adapt to managing teams away from the office and adopt a hybrid approach to work.

If you’re wondering what hybrid working refers to, it’s the scenario where employees work part of the time in the office and the remainder from home and where some employees work from home and others from the office.

This new era of flexible work arrangements is reflected in our everyday language. Most of us are now all-too familiar with the acronymns WFH (work from home) and WFO (work from office).

We’ve gained flexibility, but we’re missing the connection

While technology enabled a relatively seamless shift towards WFH, what could be lacking is the crucial ‘social glue’ and the connection between co-workers that is required for people to perform at their best.

I don’t know about you, but I have found myself going between emotional states after changing the way I work. I shift between loving the flexibility of working from home, and having all this extra time, to feeling lonely every now and then (and sometimes even demotivated). Then, I’ll come back to feeling energised again.

Why those ‘water cooler’ conversations matter

As humans, we instinctively crave connection, social interaction, and collaboration with those we work with. That daily ‘chit chat’ is more important than you might think when it comes to employee well-being, motivation, and productivity!

These organic, random conversations and interactions are missing when we work remotely, on different shifts – or are WFH while other co-workers are in the office. When a team lacks the opportunities to connect beyond a task-oriented level, they risk issues such as isolation, losing their sense of value and feeling forgotten due to lack of visibility.

While this all sounds rather grim, it’s important to note the many benefits that flexible working arrangement offers. Along with potentially offering a solution to the ‘great resignation’ and high stress being suffered by so many today, the Microsoft 2021 Work Trend Index found that 73% of employees want flexible, remote work to continue.

Even though there is a large disconnect between what employers and employees want right now, one thing is for sure – employees are re-evaluating their way of working.

My own experiences with hybrid working

When it comes to getting the balance right for my own hybrid experience, I’ve found reaching out to others helps me get what I need. Now, I seem to have found my rhythm with a combination of WFH and client interactions, café meetings and walking one-on-ones.

If I do catch up with clients or colleagues for work in-person (or IRL – ‘in real life’ ;-), sometimes I’ll see if they want to socialise after work for a drink, or a walk. What actions will help you and your team thrive?

Supporting leaders in times of change

There is much change still ahead when it comes to the way we work. To maximise these opportunities to innovate and thrive as organisations, we need collaborative leaders and teams of individuals who are well, adaptive, and engaged.

If you’d like some advice to help you and your leaders build successful and productive teams, we’re here to help. Simply contact Ruth or another expert at Mantle now.