By: Adam Bullock, UK Director of TopCashback.co.uk
There are plenty of positives with offering hybrid working but naturally, it also comes with logistics to figure out that you won’t have had to consider for the past year, or perhaps ever. If you’re a line manager, you may want to consider some of the below tips before your team(s) start returning to the office and flexible working gets into full swing.
Honour the team meetings and check ins you’ve put in place as you start to return to the office
The practices you’ve put in place during the pandemic may look quite different to full-time office work. Perhaps you’ve made more time for one-to-ones, started weekly cross-team check ins, or allocated specific working hours where you aren’t available for calls. Perhaps some of these new procedures can be relaxed over time, but at least honour those that have improved your working relationships over the past year. On the days where you or your team are working from home, make sure you stick to your schedule – don’t put something off just because you might see the person the next day in the office. That’s how things end up getting delayed forever, and consistency is key during this transitional period.
Forward plan but accept that you’ll need to be adaptable too
If you can figure out specific days where you and your team can work from home that’s helpful in the short team but probably not practical long term. It obviously depends on your company policies but if the flexible working on offer is indeed fully flexible, you could start by forward planning a week in advance. For example, on a Friday make sure your team discusses their priorities and desired whereabouts for the following week so that you’re all in agreement in advance, but still being accommodating. Given the circumstances with Covid-19, you’ll have to be accepting of last-minute changes.
Set your expectations from the start
Although flexible working should mean flexible, this doesn’t mean it’s okay for your team to not treat the ‘rules’ with respect. By setting clear expectations from the start in terms of flexible working, whatever those may be for you and your company, make it clear with your team. Importantly, make sure you adhere to the same parameters as well.
Remember that working from home doesn’t mean slacking off
Gone are the days where an employee may ask to work from home purely for the reason that they’ve had a big night the night before or are going on holiday and need to spend the day packing (rather than actually working from home). We’ve all been capable of getting work done from home every day for the past year or so, so why should this change now? When your team do work from home, maintain the level of trust you’ve kept in them since the pandemic began.
Adjust your communications to your teams’ needs
It’s an obvious one, but being a good manager requires good communication skills, particularly when you have to juggle speaking with team members sat next to you one minute and others working from home the next. Try not to take a blanket approach to methods and frequency of communications – what works for someone, may not work for someone else. Having said that, encouraging collaboration and interactions within your teams – whether this be in person, via video call, phone etc. can never not be a good thing. Checking in with your team (either in person or via video call) is also paramount to gain some understanding of their general wellbeing. Seeing the work tick along fine might lead you to assume that all is well, but oftentimes sadly, this can be far from the reality.
Trust your team, and avoid micromanagement
Resorting to micro-management may help alleviate some of your own anxieties in the short term, but as is commonly known, won’t do anything to improve productivity or quality of delivery overall. Just because the whereabouts of your staff may change daily, it doesn’t mean their drive and work ethic will. Set overall objectives, commit to weekly check ins, and then agree on a level of reporting that suits the workflow, business needs, and both you and your employee.
Don’t assume everyone will share your attitude towards hybrid working
From the way things are panning out, it looks like flexible working is here to stay. You may be in favour of hybrid working, or a sceptic, but whichever camp you sit in, remember that other employees or teams within your business may not be reading from the same hymn sheet. Some teams or employees may not even have the same level of flexibility as you do. Have open and honest conversations with other team leaders to get an understanding of any concerns they may have, or ways of working that they have or will be implementing that may help you too.