Hybrid Working: Where are we now?

Hello Fellow Humans,

3 years ago we were unaware of the shit storm that was about to unfold. What a ride it has been and after the period of trauma inducing events; we’re certainly scarred and recovering, and will be for sometime – but we’re here, and for that I feel relief and gratitude.

What did Covid change for us all?

  • The amount of strikes is on the increase… is it a coincidence that those striking are those we heavily relied on during covid? – Postal workers, teachers, the NHS…
  • We’re all happy to scan QR codes – checking in, getting tickets, looking at menus.
  • We all just need a bit more space; a bit more breathing room. Spatially and mentally.
  • Has anybody else noticed that we’re all just a bit friendlier? – people have started to say “morning” as I walk past them in the street. I’m glad that’s making a comeback.
  • I’m enjoying the new, less corporate stuffy, dress code.
  • Our sense of ‘caring’ and ‘awareness’ has been supercharged, caring/awareness for our own and others wellbeing, and the caring/awareness for the sustainability of the planet.
  • A lot of companies are talking about being more human. I’d love to claim that’s my fault but I’m not that much of a twat – I’m just happy it’s happening!
  • Hybrid went from being a car, to a way of living and working.

So, where are we now?

  • There’s a growing number of companies questioning what hybrid means to them. I think this is the result of the 3:2 hangover effect and all the kneejerk actions.
  • There’s a growing number of companies communicating the value of the office (and generally without data to communicate that actual value).
  • There’s an increase in companies wanting people back in the office.
  • Communication between departments is a real issue; we have become used to working in siloes.
  • We’re struggling to coordinate our diaries in line with the location. I’ve been in too many workplaces recently where people are sitting in rows with headsets on having teams calls (in some cases even with each other!).
  • People are craving some routine… some rhythm. And yet are enjoying the flexibility (location and time) that has come with hybrid.
  • Organisations are talking about productivity. How do we measure the contributions people are making? / what are the outputs? / is the working location effecting that contribution and output positively or negatively?
  • For many, things are feeling a little transactional. It’s never been so easy to leave a job. Are we building true relationships in the office? – or are we looking for things in common and reverting to small talk/gossip in an attempt to connect?
  • Workplace leaders are starting to realise some of their technology decisions were fuelled by false promises. The roadmap was a pipe dream. The integrations were wishful thinking. Buyers remorse is alive and kicking.
  • The 4 day week has quietened down, and people are talking about the 9 day fortnight instead.

My thoughts:

  • Data, data, data…. we need to action it! We’ll never have total clarity and all the answers, but we have the data to make informed decisions, so let’s make them and remember to constantly measure and reiterate.
  • I’ve said it before, and I will keep saying it. Wellbeing doesn’t start with: exercise classes, free food and drink, 24hr phoneline support through EAP or unlimited holidays. Wellbeing starts with: being seen and heard, feeling safe to be you, having a purpose, feeling part of a team, challenge and development, appreciation and gratitude, flexibility, and choice.
  • Humans are innately social creatures, hard-wired to seek out a community, the less connected we are, the lonelier and more vulnerable we feel. To feel connected to people and the organisation, it’s quality not quantity, which is key. It’s why, despite us being connected to hundreds of people via social media, people still experience loneliness. The workplace offers that connection.
  • It’s up to us all to do what ever is needed to change a name on a screen into an actual person. “I don’t like that man. I must get to know him better.” – Abraham Lincoln
  • Change Management is NOT the same as Project Management. Has anybody got a megaphone I can use?
  • Culture is not defined by the one big event; culture is defined by culminative small events and behaviours over time. Culture doesn’t belong to the organisation and given away with a swag bag when you’re recruited. Culture belongs to everybody, ethereal and floating around, influencing how stuff happens, what stories are told, who fits in and who does not.
  • Leaders need to be more aware of their own, and their teams, energy levels. We need to know about the areas we might easily get out of balance or struggle with.
  • FLEXIBLE policies, AGILE mindsets, ACTIVITY BASED WORKING spaces, and SMART technology. So, the spaces and tech you need to do your role, with time and place (constrained or unconstrained). Whatever you want to call this way of working, I don’t actually care; it’s about what the people who are working in this way think, how they experience work and the resulting performance of the organisation; it’s not about the ego of the workplace consultant.

In April 2020 I wrote this:

“I don’t have a crystal ball, but as much as I have enjoyed remote working, I can’t wait for the day I can return to an office, feel the culture and hug my colleagues and tell them I’ve missed them. For me, the office is not dead, it’s only just beginning and it’s up to us to define the future”.

Nearly 3 years on and on a totally personal front, and from I know what is a privileged position, I work where my diary needs me. My garden office, my conservatory, the local coffee shop, London, Nottingham, Manchester, Birmingham, New York… or on a train like right now.

I vow to keep using this privilege and experience to drive a better world for us all, but I promise it always starts with listening to what you and the organisation want and need. It’s not, and never has been about me.

So, let’s create a better world together?

Be a good human,

SFJ.

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