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WM People brought together experts and employers to discuss hybrid working as more and more companies look to embrace change
WM People have launched a new white paper on hybrid working. We brought together employers and experts to discuss the issues with this new way of working.
Top lines included the need to rethink meetings and adapting induction processes in a world where many employees will be working remotely. Topics such as line management, office space and mental health were also tackled at the virtual roundtable discussion that took place last month. The event was sponsored by Sensée. Expert speakers included Andy Lake, editor of Flexibility.co.uk who runs the Smart Work Network, and Rob Hopkin, co-founder of Axis, a virtual collaboration platform designed to help organisations harness the power of diverse teams through inclusive, engaging and effective workshops and meetings.
Andy Lake questioned the hybrid concept. He said it can come across as the same world of work in a different place. What is missing is the sense of transformation, he said. He highlighted concerns about employers making hybrid working too rigid rather than a dynamic, fluid process. He also suggested a focus on desks, meeting rooms and booking systems looks like stretching the norms of the traditional office to an online space.
Instead, employers should question when, where and how a work activity should be done in a way that makes work better. The principle should be to design the work then design the workplace, said Lake.
Employers at the roundtable discussed a range of issues. From what offices are for in the hybrid world to the dangers of creating a ‘them and us’ situation of home workers and the rest.
The fate of the office of estate was also a pressing issue. Andy Lake said there are indications that the office will shrink as more people work remotely or only part time in the office. He said it’s important to get away from traditional ideas of desk spaces and meeting spaces.
Employers need to think of everyone being equally remote rather than splitting teams between remote and office workers. Quick, dynamic interactions ought to replace formal meetings. And the location of meetings can be more flexible and reactive so outdoor spaces or pods in a work cafe could come into play.
Employers also discussed how people processes, including induction, line management and meetings need to change in the light of hybrid working.
Rob Hopkin said most organisations are looking to harness the talents of diverse teams to solve tricky problems, but meetings are not always the best way to do this. People often don’t listen in meetings, they encourage groupthink, the person who speaks loudest dominates [often with implications for gender equality], etc. This is corrosive to the rest of the team’s sense of engagement and the organisation’s ability to innovate. Lockdown had levelled the playing field as many people had to work remotely.
*To find out more about the discussion, order a copy of the full white paper here.