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

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1.2 Leaders need to raise the bar

The COVID-19 pandemic gave us the opportunity to ‘raise the bar’ (Gratton, 2022, p. 6) and ‘lift up’, and it removed the delays and dragging of feet that were previously happening in organisations and the functions within them. Business leaders started to listen to their teams, sound more empathetic, and truly understand their employees’ situations. Many leaders up to that point had just not been aware of the realities of their employees’ domestic situations, but video calls revealed that workers were not just employees, but parents with children, or young lonely professionals with limited facilities to work from home, or multi-generational families sharing spaces so cramped people had to work on beds to complete their tasks. The pandemic served to ‘Lift the veil of ignorance’ (philosopher John Rawls, 1970, quoted in Gratton, 2022, p. 6) as leaders faced similar difficulties to their employees; this brought about a much deeper empathy very quickly, something that had, up to this point, been difficult to re-enact in training courses.

In 2020 Hiroki Hiramatsu, Global Head of HR at Fujitsu, moved 80,000 of their team to work at home and it wasn’t long before they started to feel the benefits, with 55% of them favouring a mix of home and office – a hybrid model. In September 2021 he declared that ‘we are not going back’ and that ‘two hours many people spend commuting is wasted – we can use that time for education, training, time with our family’ (Gratton, 2021).

If leaders and managers want to make this transition successfully, however, they’ll need to do something they’re not accustomed to doing: designing hybrid work arrangements with individual human concerns in mind, not just institutional ones.

In the following video, Jacob Morgan talks about what leaders need to consider around flexibility in the workplace, and how to manage employee expectations of this.

Download this video clip.Video player: hyb_2_2022_sept101_flexibility_in_the_workplace_jacob_morgan.mp4
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