How to make hybrid working a success – trust and transparency are key

07 October 2022

For over two years, business leaders, employers and employees have been navigating a new way of working in our post-pandemic world.

According to a report from the ONS, 85% of workers want a hybrid schedule. But when news headlines are dominated by workplace surveillance it does seem there is a lack of trust between employers and employees that needs addressing for hybrid working to be successful.

With workers wanting more flexibility and to organise their own hybrid schedules, challenges are faced by managers and businesses as they work to build and instil trust within their teams. Many teams are divided across locations, all with different working styles combined with flexible hours – and it is showing no signs of going away. This is going to be the reality for many years to come.

To succeed in the future of work, bosses and business leaders need to think about proximity bias and evaluate employees based on productivity and not just limited to time in the office. But how does this translate to into successful hybrid working?

Hybrid working can defuse traditional workplace tensions – as it offers flexibility around where, when and how work gets done – which leads to higher employee well-being. But the challenge will lie with employers and businesses needing to adopt a more flexible working environment.

A recent study by Citrix showed that hybrid workers are more likely to trust their employers if they offer flexible work environments, by allowing workers to get the work done in any location.

But when hybrid working has been forced on businesses due to the pandemic, how do we get to a place of trust and build that encourages employees to recognise that, in addition to remote working, there are many more benefits coming into the workplace than just a place to…work?

Now more than ever, creating a positive culture and supportive community appears to be the preference for many workers when it comes to achieving a happy work-life balance. Falling short of providing this type of environment for the workforce could be considered one of the main driving forces behind their decision to work remotely.

For instance, data from the latest Microsoft Work Trend Index revealed that 84% of employees would go into the office if they could socialise with co-workers, 74% would go to the office if their ‘work friends’ were also attending and a further 73% confessed they need a better reason to go into the office than just company expectations.

Birchwood Park has a long history of an open and innovative working environment that promotes flexibility and inclusivity, no matter the size of the business. With the ability to adapt and evolve workspaces to even the most specific demands, the park has been built on foundations that prioritise workplace wellbeing and positive community culture, which is why we’ve put together four ways that trust can be established.

  1. Communication

Great communication is a must when working with remote teams. But what kind of communication tools should be used?

For business leaders, clear and consistent communication is key. Employees will often rely on the management team to define expectations. Using communication tools, like Slack and Teams, to share work updates and when the team is working is essential. When everyone can see the schedule, it can reassure management that they are working.

With many businesses still relying on regular team meetings, it allows people to get to know each other better. But new starters can often be overwhelmed, especially with a large team, so it’s important to deal directly with employees too.

  1. Technology

Businesses need to invest in the right technology, as there is nothing more frustrating than a laptop that doesn’t work properly or is slow to load cloud-based files.

Your team will likely need access to video conferencing such as Zoom, or Microsoft Teams and a messaging service. However, beyond the need to communicate, having the right infrastructure in place and introducing the right safeguards – such as accessing encrypted client files via a virtual private network (VPN), or ensuring the security is up to date across all technology should be next on the list.

By making sure that everyone has a way to communicate through the right technology, and relying on this being safe and secure, it allows workers to build more trusting relationships with their managers.

  1. A real commitment to flexible working

The popularity of hybrid working is down to the flexibility that is offers everyone. When we refer to flexibility, we talk about the specific hours that people may be working, but also how the business may operate.

Our own research has shown that the last two years have been tough on everyone, and office workers have experienced tremendous change to their working environment and have had to change the way they work – with 82% of people being happy with being back in the workplace at least two days a week.

Therefore, it is clear that employees want flexibility in their work and this needs to be done in a way that doesn’t compromise the benefits of hybrid working.

Ultimately it is down to the right communication around flexibility to build a two-way street when it comes to trust.

  1. Outputs and not just box ticking

Respecting the flexibility that hybrid working offers is vital, but this can only be achieved if managers and leaders know that tasks are being completed.

Whilst many applications do exist when it comes to monitoring and tracking time, once employers feel the need for these, it can be the start of the loss of trust in the relationship.

If you’re a manager, you may want reassurance that your staff is getting the job done. But research suggests that this should be focused on outcomes, for example, if your team complete a task by the time and date suggested, then this is potentially more important than tracking the number of hours spent on it.

In conclusion, trust is essential to the success of hybrid working, but this is a two-way street. Managers must allow employees to have the flexibility and not be micro-managed, but then equally employees need to show managers that they are able to work efficiently in their own chosen environment.

With decades of combined experience, the team at Birchwood Park is in a great position to continue to create a trusted and positive working culture that enables employees to not only thrive and feel valued but also urges them to create meaningful, long-lasting experiences.

Although hybrid working is very much here to stay, each business within the park can assure their employees that both their personal well-being, as well as their professional productivity, will benefit from coming into the workplace.

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