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Hybrid working: skills for leadership
Hybrid working: skills for leadership

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1.1 How did we get to this point?

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, many organisations were slow to pivot to the changing demands around hybrid working. According to a study reported in TechRadar (2022) there are still many US-based companies that don’t yet have any hybrid working strategies in place.

Senior Vice-President of marketing at AT&T Business, Alicia Dietsch, states:

There’s been a non-reversible shift in the way business is done thanks to the constraints of COVID-19. It’s clear that a successful talent program now requires a hybrid work policy, but that policy needs to be supported by a strategic tech-first cultural reset, to ensure business growth and competition. Firms need to ask themselves if they have the in-house expertise to achieve this, or whether it’s now time to go beyond a partner in remote infrastructure rollout to a partner in tech-first remote business strategy.

(Spadafora, 2022)

Prior to the pandemic, many employees and employers had bad habits around working such as scheduling too many meetings, enduring long commute times, not having a work-life balance that allowed them to spend enough time with loved ones, and feeling like they had to be ‘always on’ for work. Workers had a long list of complaints that they wanted to fix and viewed the growing impact on both mental health and the environment through increasing the carbon footprint as warning signs. The pandemic really highlighted those bad habits and eyes were well and truly opened.

According to Gratton (2022), the pandemic also allowed us to see into each other’s working and domestic lives for the first time, and to connect on a level that we have never achieved before. We started to adopt new habits and talk about how we can get work done not in an office. It was also a big wake-up call to the leaders around us that had to quickly pivot, adapt and get everything online, literally overnight in some cases. The question is now, will leaders continue to be bold, brave and work with employees and rethink and redesign the ways or working or will they revert to old habits around presenteeism and getting back into offices?

This really is a tipping point: we have the opportunity to sit down and redesign how work gets done and no longer view working from home and hybrid working as employee perks.