As I write this the mercury is visibly rising and my thoughts are turning towards ice cream, beach holidays, and all the fun and merriment that summer in the UK can bring. Well, that’s if we get a summer this year! One of the main benefits of the pandemic is that working flexibly has become much more acceptable. Indeed at JVCA our team balance working from home with being in the office. I know that over the month of August I shall try working far more from the camper van than the office. So in this blog, I wanted to share some of the tips we have learned at JVCA about making hybrid working, work for your business so to speak.
Set expectations over hybrid working
In March 2020 the team at JVCA headed home with monitors and laptops. Little did we know at that point that the 12 weeks of ‘stay at home’ would then become 2 years of changing and sometimes conflicting advice on how to avoid catching and spreading Covid. In this time our team has gone from ALL working from home, to some people coming into the office to work, to people finding the right balance for them personally. It was probably similar for your business too.
These changes in how we worked become fundamental changes to the JVCA culture and way of doing things. What we found was if we didn’t set the minimum agreed standards, our team decided for themselves what was acceptable. Which most of the time was similar to what was decided was acceptable. But not always!
Hybrid working doesn’t mean that ‘anything goes’. Moving to this model – particularly if more people are on holiday or working remotely over the summer months – means being really clear about what you expect from your team. For example, how many people are needed in your office at one time? When people are working what does this actually mean? For example, would you expect that they are also looking after their children as well as working? How contactable should your staff be if they are not working from the office?
Communicate, communicate and communicate again
They say that the first casualty of war is truth. Well, the first casualty of hybrid working is communication. This is why keeping the lines of communication not just open but flowing is essential when your team is not all working from the same location.
For example, in our business, we have daily huddles that everyone is expected to attend and talk through the help and support they need that day. We have gone through all our operational processes and codified this into our practice management system. This way we can clearly see what needs to be done and by whom. Then we have our WhatsApp group where we like people to say hello in the morning when they start work.
Be contactable when hybrid working
If people are in the office it often feels easier to interrupt them and ask a question. For some reason when people are not in the office, it feels much harder to interrupt them for help or to answer a question. It will be the same for your team. If you are not in the office they will hesitate to contact you. Therefore create time and space when your team knows that they can contact you. Indeed that you are expecting that they contact you.
Keep the social banter going
Creating a strong team is more than just work, work, work. For a strong team to form there needs to be trusted relationships formed. This means that people need to be able to talk about more than just work. As part of your leadership responsibilities, this means keeping the social side of work going. Of course, if people are not in the office together this is much harder. A good way of getting this banter and non-work chat going is leading by example. For example, do you talk about more than just work? Do you ask people what they are doing at the weekend? Are team members encouraged to bring back delicacies from their holiday to share with the team?