The disruptive and unprecedented nature of Covid-19 has transformed traditional work contexts and created an opportunity for flexibility and change. 2020 rapidly accelerated our understanding and adoption of remote working. It is clear now that there are a range of hybrid working environments that have begun to emerge, which require us to reimagine where and how work will be done. The future of work is hybrid and this new paradigm takes a certain kind of leadership. So, as a leader managing a hybrid workforce how do you move towards becoming a hybrid-working champion?
The different hybrid leaders
There are a variety of different work arrangements emerging and as the world continues to adjust to the “new norm”, the nature of hybrid teams is continually evolving and adapting.
Microsoft recently released their annual report on 2021 Work Trend Index, which revealed 66% of leaders say their company is considering redesigning office space for hybrid work and 73% of employees want flexible remote work options to stay.
Gartner has created a simple skill matrix that breaks down leadership types into four categories.
Leaders with the right mindset and skill set to lead a hybrid workforce
Leaders who have the right mindset but lack the right skill set to lead a hybrid workforce.
Leaders who have the right skill set but a closed mindset towards a hybrid workforce.
Leaders who lack both the right mindset and the requisite skill set to for leading a hybrid workforce.
Our 5 top tips to be a hybrid-working champion
Our new future of work requires a certain type of leader to champion and navigate these complex and dynamic workplaces changes. Leaders need to be agile, strategic thinkers and build trust, encourage collaboration, empower their employees and create productive climates for teams. An open mindset is also key to a leader’s success in this environment and allows them to embrace challenges, persist during setbacks, be adaptable, consider other’s opinions and be empathetic.
So, what type of skills can you develop and focus on to support your team members and encourage meaningful and purpose-driven work no matter where they are located?
Communication is always essential but how do we encourage it in a virtual environment. To drive improved communication, there needs to be detailed projects, tasks and deadlines to ensure accountability and understanding both with team members and clients. There is a myriad of online collaboration software available to keep everyone in the loop and once the tasks are set, ensure everyone knows their task and purpose.
Trust is critical in any work environment but needs particular attention when an employee may not step foot in the office. It is important to identify ways and foster transparency that allows team members to connect with you and share their work. Encouraging team members to chat to each other daily will also develop trust between the team too. Focus on what brings your organisation together and encourage a sense of belonging to keep lines of communication open and honest.
Create and set shared expectations
Make sure everyone is on the same page with the overall purpose and common goals of a project. Ensuring there is a dedicated location for all tasks, that is easily accessible and allows everyone to continually touch base with their work. It is important to always remain flexible too, as issues will occur outside the organisation or your team member’s control, and remaining agile will lessen their impact.
Be inclusive and share the load
If you’re a leader with some employees in the office and others working remotely, it is important not to forget those who are not physically there. Continually foster a sense of shared identity amongst all team members and a sense of belonging to the organisation despite physical distance. Keep everyone in the loop and check in to see how those who aren’t physically there are coping. Burn out is prevalent during significant change so check for signs, like irritability, or a short fuse and provide support and connect with them to alleviate the stress.
Don’t forget to have fun! Just because you’re not altogether in the office doesn’t mean you can’t have casual drinks, a themed lunch or a Friday morning tea over Zoom. Casual catch ups with no agenda can foster connection and build community. Plus, it’s an opportunity to get to know each other outside of work and have a laugh!
Hybrid work environments are here to stay. They bring a variety of opportunities and challenges to both leaders, team members and the work environment. Most importantly, they present an opportunity for leaders to continue to develop their leadership skills, foster an open mindset and guide their team through a significant period of global change.
If you would like to chat more about how to develop leadership skills within a hybrid work environment, book in for a chat or send an email to, Chris.Morrison@meritos.com.au