My employer is moving to hybrid working. I want to remain working mostly from home so it suits me, but I’m wondering if you have any advice on how to make the most of it and to ensure, for instance, that I don’t become less visible.
What post pandemic work life looks like is a huge discussion point currently for employers and the hybrid worker model seems to have won the vote! This hybrid working model will give you a more flexible future whether you’re working two days a week in the office and three at home, vice versa or something similar. The new term is ‘structured flexibility’ – organisations are keen to give employees freedom with accountability, but working patterns need to suit both parties.
There are many advantages when working from home, such as the opportunity to thrive in a less structured environment, fewer office distractions, no commuting time and freedom over how you spend your time. You can choose when and where you do your work, as long as it gets done!
To make the most of hybrid working, clear and regular two-way communication is vital. For a workplace to be productive, communications need to be open and positive. Feedback has never been more important; tell your manager how you like to absorb information and when you’d like to be communicated with.
Trust is crucial when working in a hybrid environment with a scattered team. Don’t feel the need to prove you are working all the time; my advice would be to set clear goals with your manager and check in as regularly as you want to. What works for you is likely to be different to a colleague. The key to establishing clear accountability is to set out expectations, goals and deadlines.
Whilst you’re working from home, at the start of team meetings I’d build in a personal element to encourage catch-up time, so your team can connect with each other despite being physically separated. It’s always good to open online meetings with time at the start for colleagues to chat about what’s going on in their lives just as they would do if they were in the office.
I believe celebrating success is important in building engagement in a hybrid world; words of thanks go a long way in building rapport.
It’s important to look after your own development so have career development conversations with your manager and let them know what skills you’d like to develop. It’s also very important to look after your wellbeing, prioritising what is needed to maintain your energy levels while dealing with the myriad of challenges our new way of working brings without anxiety or loss of focus. Be kind to yourself, understand what tasks give you energy and which drain your energy and look after your personal resilience.
To make the most of being a hybrid worker, focus on how to maximise collaboration and creativity amongst your team. How can you collaborate and be creative when you’re working from home? This is far easier when in the office and face to face. Focus on how to maintain productivity and the importance of looking after yourself. It’s important to understand what you have control over and how to stay positive and remain focussed under pressure.
Whilst you’re working from home, it might be that you’re ‘less visible’ than people in the office – my advice would be to put yourself out there and don’t hold back. Get your voice heard, feel confident in your suggestions. Having a voice and speaking up will make you more visible, and this, coupled with the days that you choose to be in the office will all help. It’s unlikely you’ll get it right first time, I think it’s about trial and error – see what works for you, understand what doesn’t and build upon the positives and where you feel you’re making the most impact.
*Liz Sebag-Montefiore is a career coach and Director of 10Eighty, a strengths-based HR consultancy. For more information, please visit www.10Eighty.co.uk.