I recently spoke at the BAPT conference about hybrid working and the challenges this brings for people managers. Hybrid working is here to stay – 90% of us say we don’t want to go back to pre-Covid work patterns and 51% say they would leave if the hybrid option was removed . Even so, hybrid working poses some difficulties for teams and their leaders, especially around creating a sense of connection to each other, to the team and to the organisation, when people are in and out of the office at different times.

What They Said

Here are a few of the comments made in break out groups during my conference session about the impact of hybrid working on #happiness:

“meetings are now all task – do the agenda, then it’s goodbye”
“you can’t get to know people personally”
“you miss everything that’s not being said”
“it’s harder to trust people”
“it’s difficult to express your needs”
“conflict isn’t dealt with”

The biggest challenge for people managers is enabling this human connection between people, so that people feel they belong, can fulfil their needs for connection with others, and get the benefits of collaborative working.  Managers therefore need to find ways to interact with their teams so they can meet their needs for connection with others. This is good for #wellbeing and for #motivation – and therefore it’s good for business.

What To Do

Here are some of the solutions we came up with in break out group discussions:

• Have times when you bring the team together in person – schedule when you are all in
• Establish ground rules for hybrid working
• Keep virtual meetings short and specific
• Use face-to-face for difficult conversations
• Let people know when you will be in the office
• Be disciplined about scheduling 121s
• Make time for chat in the team and casual conversations – open calls 15 minutes early, have “tea at three” virtual sessions where anyone can drop in.
• Set up buddy arrangements, especially for new team members.
• Start meetings with a check in on how people are feeling
• Share positive news in the team
• Do plenty of listening and MBWA!

We concluded that the most important thing managers can do to make hybrid working work for everyone is to deliberately and constantly create opportunities and situations where people can connect.

For tips on how to deal with the stresses of interacting with others, read more here.