The world has recently experienced huge changes, and the entire model of how we work has undergone a massive transformation. Businesses and employees had to adapt to working from home quickly, and the byproduct of this was employers and employees alike realising the benefits this brought.
More and more businesses are moving away from the traditional office-based approach and into a more hybrid work model. Although this is widely regarded as a positive thing, businesses still need to keep inclusion at the forefront of their plans when they’re making these changes.
Know Why Fairness Is Important
As you’ll probably have noticed, hybrid work models affect the entire organisation in one way or another. As such, fairness is incredibly important, especially when the new changes are still being implemented.
Employees will still observe how they are treated within their organisation relative to co-workers and even workers in other companies.
This means that leaders and HR must think about fairness in their company to mitigate the potential risk of division or even unrest among employees who feel they are not being treated equally to their co-workers.
Make Inclusion the Heart of Your Planning
Inclusivity is critical for an effective and sustainable business strategy, and it will require input from as many diverse employee groups as possible.
Different groups of people have different challenges and requirements, and overcoming any issues begins with healthy dialogue – with the ultimate goal being a positive outcome for all parties concerned.
Engaging in conversation with different groups is vital for this process to work – it’s not acceptable to assume.
Make Trust a Key Factor
Trust is a key component of any healthy business – it’s not good for employee morale if they feel micromanaged or excessively controlled. Fostering a high-trust environment ensures that leaders know their people are valued and are trusted to focus on their role wherever they are based.
In terms of business model developments, trust is one of the cornerstones of developing a positive work culture and will help transformation happen faster. When you combine it with inclusion and fairness, you’re building a stronger foundation for your organisation’s success.
Know Why HR Exists
Your HR department creates the conditions that support the business and helps all the other teams succeed. Open dialogue with employees about critical organisation design strategy is important to ensure that your procedures and systems meet your goals.
Organisational change requires people to be flexible, and this is always easier when people cooperate and learn from one another. While HR should be a subject matter expert in this, they shouldn’t be making recommendations – these should come from the employees.
Be mindful of the test and consolidation period – you won’t get everything right the first time, and reflective practice is highly important for measuring progress, outcomes, challenges, and solutions.
Establish a Diverse and Inclusive Work Group
Your initial work will be complemented by a well-structured, representative, inclusive, and diverse employee group from the organisation. They should look at analysis, assessment, and recommendations – it’s not a top-down HR project. This includes representatives from protected characteristic groups such as ethnic minorities, working parents, and LGBTQ+.
The hybrid work model needs to meet the needs of every single employee – considerations from diverse groups will help you work out how to do that.
Decide on Core Design Principles (CDPs)
Understanding what the CDPs of your company are will help the group to construct proposals. This will help the fluidity of discussion, the group’s alignment and ultimately aid the implementation of hybrid working.
Create core principles that will help your company move forward; for example, promoting inclusivity, trust-building, ensuring openness and dialogue could all fall under this.
Make sure you understand your CDPs and how they align with company culture before writing detailed policies and procedures to save yourself having to double-check, cross reference, and potentially change them!
Communicate Findings and Recommendations to Leadership
The work group’s recommendations should – with support from HR – have looked at any of the challenges posed with the proposed changes. This will help the leadership team to base their decisions on valid insights from the people directly affected by the changes. The workgroup should offer options and alternative routes, demonstrate how the changes can co-exist with business success, and back this up with rich data.
Following this, the proposals should be reviewed, assessed, and the feasibility of proposals discussed with work leaders. This last part is a truly collaborative effort and must be balanced – it’s the litmus test for your organisation’s ability to engage in change.
A growing body of evidence supports the fact that hybrid working models are a great long-term solution for businesses, and employee sentiment seems to be siding with this as well.
We can’t stay static in any industry – global work culture is too dynamic, and as such, we need to move with the times rapidly and decisively, but with great consideration.
The future of work is embracing inclusion – ethically, it’s the correct thing to do, and from a business perspective, it puts you in better stead to recruit and keep the best talent in your field. It’s a win-win that’s worthy of investment.
For more resources on hybrid working check out CIPD website.
Jane joined Oyster Partnership in November 2017 as a receptionist. She started showing her artistic flair and enthusiasm for all things marketing soon after joining the business. Since then she has worked hard and built her way up from being a receptionist to running the marketing department at Oyster Partnership.
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