The leader’s role in hybrid work

hybrid work

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Market conditions have shifted dramatically since the pandemic struck, and numerous industries have transitioned to the ‘new norm’ of hybrid work. Such widespread changes mean business leaders must be forward-thinking and implement strategic processes to support their staff on the road to hybrid.

In the fourth instalment of this series in partnership with Cisco, we explore why it takes a leader to make hybrid work a success, and offer advice on how you can implement positive strategies for your team.

Your hybrid staff want to be engaged

High staff engagement is one of the keys to business success, and it is inextricably linked to both productivity and staff retention. In fact, according to Gartner research, businesses with high levels of staff engagement enjoy a solid productivity boost (+17%) and significant reduction in absenteeism (-41%). So leaders today need to ensure engagement remains high even in a hybrid environment.

One suggestion is that leaders approach engagement as a whole-of-life strategy, rather than a reactive measure. That means from the initial job interview, you need to create a work environment where your staff want to be engaged. Doing so will help improve productivity while giving your top talent a reason to stay put.

“There is definitely competition for the best talent,” says Cassandra Crothers, Director Inside Sales (Asia Pacific, Japan and China) at Cisco Meraki. “Getting the best people into your company is incredibly important, because people are what make business work.”

Setting your sights on diverse talent from further afield is one way that savvy businesses are overcoming the talent shortage. Remote onboarding can help generate good engagement from the start, but you need to deploy it in a way that is appropriate for your people. “If you don’t get that right and have a good experience doing that, it can taint the whole employee experience,” Crothers says.

Cisco empowers your workers with Hybrid Work experiences at home, in the office, or anywhere. Because work is not where you go, it’s what you do.

Technology as the ‘connector’

As a leader, it’s up to you to enable people to work from wherever they want. While it’s only one piece of the hybrid-work equation, the anywhere, anytime nature of working remotely means your people need to be connected to the workplace outside of the traditional office. That could be in their own home office, on their smartphone while travelling, or anything in between.

Investment in technology to support your hybrid workforce is critical. “We are more and more reliant on technology to support the business,” Crothers says. “At Meraki, having ready access to all our online applications is critical to enabling us to connect and be able to perform best at our jobs, no matter where we are or how we work.”

Think about how you can roll out tools and processes that connect your people to the office — even when they are working remotely. Being able to manage their access means you can troubleshoot problems remotely and avoid the risk of a minor tech problem snowballing into something more disruptive. 

It’s all about making sure that your people are supported from a technical standpoint — and that starts with having a stable network of technology solutions upon which you build your hybrid work policy.

It’s up to leaders to generate buy-in

While the majority of your team may be thrilled to transition from a fully office-based position to one that is hybrid, there may be outliers who struggle to adapt at first. As their leader, it’s your responsibility to listen to their concerns, define a strategy to support them, and continually check in on them so that they don’t feel left out of the team.

In addition to being a support tool, Crothers says trust is a key factor for leaders. “Always start with trust. You have to trust your people,” she says. “If you have trust, you can say ‘I actually believe that we are going to get our job done and deliver results for the business, however we work. If we deliver the results, we can trade off with some of the flexibility we’re able to enjoy now.’”

Every individual will have different needs. As their leader, you need to communicate with your people, find out what they need to make hybrid work a success, and then support them as they undertake this major transition.

READ NOW: Beyond working from home: The hybrid working model

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