Change Learning Circle: People & Culture - Hybrid working

The Change Learning Circle is a member only series centred on current thinking about critical topics in Change Management. In this quarterly series a panel of experienced change practitioners read a range of published material on a given topic and come together for a discussion on their insights. Members are invited to listen in to the conversation and the recording is shared as a podcast.

In a recent session on People & Culture the panel explored the impacts of hybrid working including key considerations for leaders and change practitioners involved in this type of significant cultural change. Panel host Sky Dow shares her reflections on the discussion. If you would like to engage more deeply with this session you can access the shared reading list here. The panel discussion is available as a podcast here

One of the main points that resonated with me was the recognition that over the past year or so, all of us have had to change something about how we live and/or work. This change has occurred at lightning speed with little or no change management support.

Businesses have had to adapt in ways that were unthinkable a few years ago. The culture of presenteeism is firmly out the window as the majority of us get our heads around new technology and new ways of working from home.

It feels as though we have settled into a “new normal,” but have we really?

As our panelists spoke about, this speedy move to a new way of working, crucially without the usual change management support to get us from A to B, had a huge sense of unprecedented urgency as its impetus. It is apparent that we have missed some crucial aspects in our journey to the new normal.

So, what comeback are we experiencing as a result of these changes coming in at the pace that they have?

Well, do you feel like you are “always on?” As one of our listeners commented, do you feel like you are “living at work” rather than “working from home?” Are you an expert user of the technology that is available to you? Do you have the right tech to support you in your role? How are you coping with virtual meetings? Do you encounter distractions while working?

We have now started to see staff burnout and workforce fatigue emerge in recent months. One business even made the headlines for giving their staff a week off to relax, unwind and reset.

As we are now potentially emerging from the pandemic, the possibility of physically returning to work is a conversation that most business are entertaining. Some of us are more anxious about this than others. Some businesses are very clear that they want employees back in and sat at their desks in the office. However, I’ve found, so far, that the majority are adopting a hybrid way of working. This concept is also relatively new and we are all still finding our feet.

So, if you are a leader or a change manager involved in this type of cultural change, it’s important to consider these things:

  • What are the requirements of your people as well as your business?
  • How flexible can your business be to meet the different needs of your people?
  • Are you sure that you are keeping everyone up to date, and most importantly, do your people have the means to engage with you openly and honestly?

If we can answer these questions and put our people at the heart of our decision-making, we may be able to navigate these uncharted hybrid working waters successfully.

If you would like to engage more deeply with this session you can access the shared reading list here. The panel discussion is available as a podcast here