Responsible for employee communications and feel like you’re playing piggy in the middle between corporate leaders who want their workers back in the office, and employees who are reluctant to compromise on new-found flexibility? How can you guide the hybrid working debate?
As you watch the ball bounce back and forth, you likely have sympathy for both sides. After all, they both have great rationales:
- Senior leaders want to recreate an office space with atmosphere, where people work together, inspiring each other, driving more creativity in approach. This, instead of walking around echoing corporate floors with more tumbleweed than people … costing £££ without much ROI.
- Meanwhile employees’ entire lifestyles changed during the pandemic and many don’t want to restart long and expensive commutes – after all they can use that time to get their work done and then enjoy more personal time. They argue that remote working is now established why should anything change.
The post-pandemic world of work is filled with cliches and new buzzwords. From hybrid work to ‘can you see my screen’ … so what exactly is your role, as an employee communications leader, in navigating your company to its own ‘new normal’?
At Fresh Communication we work with a wide range of businesses which means we observe and guide a variety of approaches. What we know already is, there is no one size fits all answer.
When we advise our clients on how to successfully manage post-pandemic employee comms, this is our starting point:
Working through the global pandemic has dramatically changed employees’ context and relationship with work. They’re still getting used to the ‘new normal’… understanding how to make hybrid working really work, and how to engage in a new era when:
… some haven’t even ever experienced office-based work.
… others have embraced remote working and dramatically changed their family routine around it… becoming reluctant to revert to the traditional office-based 9-5.
… and for some the boundaries between work and personal became blurry, and now they are interested to explore how to design a career and personal life which co-exist.
For many people, working from home gave them even less time than before, despite the perks of no commute and perceived flexibility.
Add to this the troubled global landscape of the Ukraine war and other political issues, and often we have a workforce that feels a little… drained. They’re ready for an upturn in all the things. For the world to feel like a better place.
If people are feeling weary how should you position the internal communications agenda to achieve maximum engagement, and how can you facilitate the conversation about what hybrid working means for your organisation?
We feel it’s important to stay empathetic to the context of today’s employee environment; to show that leadership is listening, genuinely cares, and advocates for the good mental health of its employees, whilst pursuing the corporate strategy.
Over the past two years we’ve seen a rise in awareness and discussion about mental health, the challenges of menopause in the workplace, greater understanding and education about diversity and inclusion, and fairer distribution of parental and carers’ needs.
None of this is going away – and nor should it.
It’s no longer enough to pay lip service to these important people-focused topics. Many people in today’s workforce are already showing how willing they are to change job if they feel unsupported in these areas.
When it comes to your employee communications strategy, we advocate creating a specific focus on those subjects, and creating a project briefing template that makes sure they’re considered throughout every initiative.
And, getting back to that game of piggy in the middle – we feel you’ll only grab and hold that ball when you facilitate a conversation between leaders and employees that acknowledges the realities we’ve outlined in this post, and holds space for a genuine exchange of rationale and ideas for how to move forward with hybrid working.
Wondering how to put that into practice? Let’s talk… Fresh Communication is an award-winning partnership of highly-skilled, digitally savvy creative thinkers and do-ers. We’re experts in employee communications and partner with you at whichever level is required – from creative strategy to practical delivery – to help you engage your leaders and employees.