Hybrid working – whether your organisation is 100% remote, entirely office-based, or a mix of both, applying a new way of working is likely to create uncertainty with employees and need effective communication.
Never mind the logistical challenges hybrid working brings, it can also impact your company culture. Will your business now be seeing the workplace as more of a collaboration space and need to adapt to trust that colleagues are productive when working from home?
The changes ahead can be daunting for internal communicators, so in this blog we’re sharing some key things for you to consider – helping a smooth transition to your ‘new normal’, whatever that might be!
Much as we hate jargon and clichés, COVID has sent this into overdrive. Starting with the word ‘hybrid’ which can mean different things to different people. So, the first step as communicators is to define what that means to your business and getting everyone on the same page – from leaders, to HR and facilities.
Employees will be uncertain and possibly anxious about what the future workplace holds for them. The best way to tackle this is to tell them about the new working model and what it means to them at the earliest opportunity. Even if you don’t have the details completely nailed down, at least give a direction of travel and key milestones.
As with any good employee engagement, it’s not just about telling colleagues about the change but ensuring they can ask questions and share concerns through two-way communications.
You may need to ramp up your existing feedback channels to cope with a possible deluge, so be prepared! Use the insight you gain to measure understanding and progress, while identifying any potential blockers to engagement.
And if you can, involve colleagues in developing the plans. Could your new ways of working be rolled out as a pilot, with plans evaluated and adapted to take onboard employees’ feedback? This sends a clear message of transparency and ‘your voice matters’ during times of change.
Make it fair
One of the biggest risks of hybrid working is that a ‘them and us’ situation arises. Will colleagues working in the same office as leaders have better access? Will remote workers feel they no longer belong when they miss out on face-to-face meetings and events in the office?
It’s certainly a complex and very real challenge but internal communicators can help by equipping leaders with the necessary communication skills and tools. And by re-checking colleague communication preferences which may change with the new ways of working.
Finally, don’t forget to review your existing channels – taking advantage of the latest technology – to make sure they’re fit for purpose and provide a truly inclusive experience for all colleagues, regardless of their working pattern.
Need more help? You can always ask Fresh to help you with your hybrid working communications strategy and channels – we’re here to help!