Being able to have difficult conversations with employees around sensitive issues, while hybrid, is a key skill, the Tripartite Alliance for Fair & Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP) says.
In recent years, new ways of working have taken root in Singapore workplaces. Organisations that have experimented with flexible work arrangements (FWAs) for business continuity during the pandemic, have continued to implement some forms of flexibility, with hybrid working being a popular option.
Employees value the blend of working from the office and home, as it offers flexibility in managing work and personal responsibilities, while maintaining in-person interaction with colleagues. There have been mixed reviews from employers, and some may have concerns that hybrid working could be disruptive and affect productivity.
As hybrid working looks set to stay, how can employers make the best use of this work model for improved work efficiencies and performance?
Find the sweet spot for your organisation
A good starting point is to understand that there is no one-size-fits-all arrangement that will work for all organisations and employees. Factors such as job role, responsibilities on personal and work fronts, work culture, and even the conduciveness of the home environment can impact the extent to which the hybrid work model can be implemented.
It is crucial for leaders to understand their team and consider the various factors before deciding on how to implement a hybrid working arrangement that best suits their needs.
For instance, GIC, Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund, has found that brainstorming, discussions, and feedback sessions are effective when held onsite. In contrast, individual deep-focus activities such as data analysis and research are performed more effectively when working from home.
Thus, they have implemented a practice of working in the office for a baseline of three days each week and given individual teams the autonomy to choose their in-office days. They have also found that it is important to work with a set of key principles that will empower employees to take accountability for their work. These include being adaptable in embracing new ways of flexible working, achieving a balance between work and rest, and focusing on results rather than face time.
Taking all these factors into account will help employers to find the sweet spot of working onsite and from home, for their own organisations.
Equip managers for the hybrid workplace
The hybrid work model may pose challenges for middle managers, as it may take a little more effort to manage teams in what is essentially a different work environment.
When managers are equipped with the skills to manage and engage employees as they work across different environments, they will be able to lead and support flexible working teams with greater confidence and fully commit to the implementation of a hybrid work model.
These skills include:
- Setting clear expectations for hybrid working teams, which may include defining core work hours and days, start and end times, and even communication methods.
- Managing the performance of their teams, including tracking set goals and other performance indicators.
- Having difficult conversations with employees around sensitive issues such as work performance.
Embed flexibility to attract talent
Finally, rather than implementing hybrid working as a stand-alone option due to its popularity, consider how you can embed flexibility as part of a work-life strategy to support talent attraction and retention efforts. This can benefit recruitment efforts immensely – not just in hiring more talent, but also across a broader spectrum of society as well.
Progressive organisations are enhancing their employee value proposition when they prioritise employee wellbeing, and implementing FWAs is one way to do so. One example is DBS Bank, which implemented permanent hybrid work, after surveying employees and identifying that FWAs are a key priority for the Gen Z and Millennial demographics. This helped the organisation to create higher engagement with their existing workforce by meeting employee needs, and to attract new talent as well.
A flexible work model can also enable your organisation to expand the potential talent pool to supplement the workforce. This can be an effective hiring strategy, as it allows the organisation to tap on diverse sources of talent pools, who could meaningfully contribute to work if their need for flexibility could be accommodated, such as persons with disabilities and those with caregiving responsibilities.
With the right preparation, hybrid working can be successfully implemented and add value to your organisation. The autonomy provided to employees to decide where they work, helps to cultivate an engaged and effective workforce that will go the extra mile.
TAFEP provides information and resources to help employers and HR professionals keep abreast of HR best practices. Visit tafep.sg to find out more.