Leading With Your Heart: The Challenges and Opportunities of Hybrid Working
It is clear we are heading into yet another new phase of working arrangements. Some staff are gleefully returning to working in the office, some are planning on returning soon, and some who are nowhere near ready to do this! So how do we navigate everyone's wants and needs whilst still running our business, and still providing amazing service to our clients?
In this blog, Cathy shares how Happy has handled hybrid working over the past 18 months during lockdown and beyond.
Hi, we are Happy
We are leading a movement to create happy, empowered and productive workplaces.
How can we help you and your people to find joy in at least 80% of your work?
We trust our people to do their jobs
At Happy, we have always offered our staff flexible working arrangements as a standard — anything from part time working, compressed working, working from home, the choice to buy extra leave, to paid and unpaid sabbaticals. At the heart of it, we trust our people to do their jobs.
At the start of the first lockdown back in March 2021, we decided to adopt the Canadian Federal Government COVID principles to clearly articulate to our people what mattered to us as a company and assert how we would work together. It feels like there are particularly two of these (numbers 4 and 5) that need to take us forward into this 'new' hybrid way of working:
- You are not 'working at home,' you are at your home, during a crisis, trying to work'
- Your personal, physical, mental and emotional health is far more important than anything else right now.
- You should not try to compensate for lost productivity by working longer hours.
- You will be kind to yourself and not judge how you are coping based on how you see others coping.
- You will be kind to others and not judge how they are coping based on how you are coping.
- Your team's success will not be measured the same way it was when thing were normal.
For me, this is about leading with your heart, and, using your humanity as leaders — putting your people right at the centre of everything you do and how you do it.
We have seen over the past year many organisations embracing new ways of working: with more transparency; more devolved accountability and decision making; more emphasis on supporting staff, building relationships, and how to maintain our mental health and resilience.
It seems like fairness (and navigating that conversation) is the next challenge we need to steer through – what if some people never want to return to the office, or they only want to return part time, whilst others will be needed to be back there every day? In our training and consultancy business we certainly need a level of people staffing our Centre. The simple truth is: some of us need more time than others.
Remember your 'to be' list when discussing hybrid working
So as leaders, peers, colleagues and team members, we need to remember our 'to be' list when we are having these conversations about where, how and when we work - and agreeing how we will work together going forward:
- Be patient
- Be compassionate
- Be open minded
- Be a listener
- Be curious
- Be supportive
After all, our positive intent should be to:
- Treat people as individuals
- Let people do it their own way at their own pace
- Believe the best of each other
- Seek out the opportunities that flexible working can offer
- Help everyone to bring their true, best self to work
- Create joy at work
We have clearly seen that when your culture and your business strategy is based around your people working to their strengths — their loyalty, commitment, hard work, engagement and pride will help you to succeed.
There is something in recognising and accepting 'we will be doing some form of hybrid working' forever... we all need to learn and adapt. There is one simple message — we are all in this together, and together we will find a way to make it work!
Cathy has been with Happy since March 1995 and shortly after took over the role of Group Managing Director, and is responsible for maintaining Happy's award-winning and celebrated culture. As head of Happy's Leadership and Personal Development, she is Lead Facilitator, executive coach, speaker and consultant with the aim of embedding positive behavioural change. Her leadership purpose is to help others to be great at work. She is an inspiration to her staff and clients. Cathy has received recognition through several national awards, including a Special Commendation for Innovative Management in the Best Boss Competition and Finalist for Director of the Year in the 2018 London Venus Awards.