Hybrid work — 5 significant trends every leader should know

Leave a Comment / timeghost, Leadership, Management, Project management / By Tim Lauenroth

The transformation to a hybrid working world is in full swing for companies. Trends can be identified that have an impact on the future direction of companies and the way they are managed. In the recently published Microsoft Work Trend Index 2022, five trends emerged that employees expect from their employer in a future hybrid work environment.

1. Changing employee priorities and values

The pandemic was instrumental in changing our priorities over the past two years. Covid-19 has given us more clarity on what is important: family, health, time, purpose.

“I want to put my personal goals on the same level as my professional goals”

Mid Level manager working in construction, Spain

In the study, 47% of respondents said they were more likely to put family and personal life above work than before the pandemic. The same happened with health. More than 50% said they prioritized health and well-being overwork. Reasons for quitting derived from the new focus of employees.

Here’s what you should look for in your company’s future direction to be perceived as an attractive employer:

1. Positive corporate culture

2. Benefits for mental health/well-being

3. Sense of purpose

4. Flexible working hours

Tip: Consider the experience of the last two years and the new interpretation of your employees’ priorities to improve your team in a sustainable and long-term way.

2. Leaders are between the expectations of management and employees

It is easy to see what employees expect from their employer in the first point. For companies, meeting these requirements is a major challenge. The success of the implementation depends mainly on the managers who are closest to the employees.

As a manager, you’ve probably also found yourself acting as an intermediary between company management and employees. By removing the home office requirement, corporate ranks are asking their employees to prepare for a full return to the office — contrary to what employees want.

54 % of senior executives said that company leadership fails to recognize or disregards employee expectations.

From this, on the part of both management and employees, disagreements can arise and you, as a leader, are caught between both fronts.

However, the goal of every leader must be to align the expectations of the employees with the given business results. As a leader, try to develop a guide with your team that defines what hybrid work should look like on your team.

Here you’ll get a guide that outlines seven steps on how to develop and define hybrid work agreements with your team.

The technologies for successful hybrid work are available to us through the emergency of the last two years. As a collaborative app of Microsoft Teams, we have had optimal experience with the cloud-based Microsoft365 environment, which gives you the perfect technical foundation for successful hybrid working.

3. The role of the office needs to be rethought

To successfully implement hybrid working, you as a manager should define when it is necessary to come into the office. This is because the uncertainty of employees is mainly that they do not know exactly when and why they should come to the office. The freedoms of hybrid working require a clear definition of rules to ensure continued productivity. Define with your team when you should see each other in person.

For you as a leader, the goal must be to define what the office means to you as a team. In doing so, address the needs of your employees and try to use the office as a place to connect.

“You must design workplaces with enough flexibility to support every employee. A mix of quiet places, collaboration areas, and touch-down locations helps ensure everyone can be connected, engaged, and productive.”

Michael Ford, CVP of Global Workplace Services

4. Availability of the employee with flexible working

Many employees still have a hard time with the clear separation of work and private life. This is made clear by availability beyond work. Microsoft’s study increased after-hours work increased by 28% and weekend work by 14%. On top of that, the amount of time employees spend in meetings has increased by 252% since February 2020.

For hybrid working, this means that employees need to be available more often, giving them less flexibility in how they schedule their work. All the more reason for managers to develop clear rules and structures for employees to follow to have more flexibility in their jobs and not being available continuously.

Possible solutions to reduce the burden on employees outside of set working hours:

– Divide meetings into “required” or “optional” to help participants prioritize meetings.

– As an employee and leader, set up personal focus times in the calendar that allows you to work uninterrupted

– As a team, define “meeting-free” blocks of time so everyone can focus on getting their work done

Time tracking as a solution for a good work-life balance

With timeghost, we offer a project time tracking tool that tracks the working hours of your team and assigns them to the corresponding project and the task defined in it. This allows employees to see what they have worked on recently and provides them with clear evaluation options that also show them, among other things, how long they have been working today.

By measuring working hours, employees in the hybrid working world can more easily detach themselves from work and devote themselves to their private lives. timeghost is integrated into the Microsoft365 working environment and offers several interfaces, such as Microsoft Planner, which make tracking your working hours even easier.

5. Teamwork in a hybrid world

“When people trust one another and have [social] capital, you get a willingness to take risks, you get more innovation and creativity and less groupthink.”-Nancy Baym, Principal Researcher, Microsoft Research

One consequence of remote work is that human relationships are neglected, and we no longer regularly exchange ideas about current issues. In doing so, neglecting social connections means a reduction in sharing.

As a result, social capital is left behind, which is a disadvantage for companies as well as for employees. The effort required to call someone is much higher than the daily hallway conversations that are usually held in the office.

That’s why hybrid teams need a deliberately thoughtful approach that takes this factor into account as well. The technology is ready. However, the best technology is of no use to you and your team if no cornerstone has been developed in the form of company culture.

That’s the first step to successfully enabling hybrid work. Establishing a company culture makes it easier for employees to work together as a team because everyone knows about the values or work culture that has been established.

For you as a leader, this means keeping your focus on maintaining relationships within your team. Be a role model here and have regular conversations with your employees.

This can be in the office, but also remotely. The important thing here is that you actively address this responsibility and thus lay the foundation for successful exchange within the team.

Conclusion

Managers as the central figure for successful hybrid work

The accountability of leaders to enable people to do their best work has never been more important.

The task for you as a leader, as the link between management and employees, is to empower management to uphold and expand the company culture, rethink the role of the office, and define new rules or practices for successful hybrid working within your team.

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