L&D Best Practices

Why hybrid working works and how L&D can help

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hybrid working

Hybrid working, where employees split their time between the office and working remotely, is now popular practice across many businesses. While previously known only in tech and creative industry vernacular, the term “hybrid working” is now as commonplace as “PPE,” “furlough,” and other words ingrained by the Covid-19 pandemic.

It has become so entrenched in fact, that employees now expect it. Gartner research shows that 75% of hybrid workers say their expectations for working flexibly have increased since the pandemic began.

For many businesses, this shift towards a fundamentally different way of working can offer many advantages, but it can also present a variety of structural and strategic challenges. Luckily, many of these challenges can be mitigated through learning and development (L&D) programs, particularly those focused on managers who are key to driving these new working practices.

Exploring the positives

Hybrid working is distinct from remote working in that it requires staff to work a specified number of days in and out of the office. This means, if rolled out correctly, it can offer the best of both worlds.

The hybrid model is clearly preferred by employees. According to the Accenture Future of Work Study 2021, 83% of workers globally prefer it.

Key advantages include:

Delivering these benefits consistently across the business requires a commitment to manager training. Learning programs to help teams adapt to this new working environment are important, but courses specifically tailored to managers are also critical, as managers are responsible for implementing and driving the long-term success of hybrid working.

Tackling the negatives

Although hybrid working offers many benefits, it is not without pitfalls. Insufficient investment in planning, communicating, and supporting hybrid working can prove detrimental to the organization and workers.

Possible pitfalls include: 

Resolving these issues often involves rethinking the way business is conducted. For example, changing the office space to include hot-desking and collaborative spaces can help smooth the jumps between office and home. But the best way to bridge these two worlds is to make your teams more agile and resilient. This is where L&D can help.

How L&D supports hybrid working 

To maximize the benefits of hybrid working, L&D must reconfigure learning to support location-agnostic practices. This starts by identifying, planning, and nurturing the skills your workforce needs to thrive in this new working environment. Key skills include building trust, stress management, effective communication, effective and engaging meeting planning, employee motivation, and team collaboration.

A well-planned L&D program can help you overcome many of the potential challenges of hybrid working. For example, cultivating a culture focused on work output rather than hours logged can alleviate stress and burnout.

Successful delivery of such programs depends on the right mix of virtual and in-person learning, with the right tools and technologies to match. This gives learners the opportunity to apply what they have learned within their respective work setting. L&D should provide training specifically for managers, to equip them with the tools to help them and their teams adapt to this new way of working. It is particularly important for managers to learn how to improve collaboration and initiate activities to strengthen team relationships.

The most important aspect of your hybrid working training program is cross-business consistency. Mixed messages and unclear policies create confusion. It is crucial that you regularly gather feedback from managers and individual team members to ensure the training is relevant and helpful. Focus on maintaining a strong company culture within a hybrid working environment should also be a priority.

Where next for your business?

Hybrid working is clearly here to stay. The big question is how to embrace it, since not doing so risks damaging everything from well-being and productivity to recruitment and retention. It is up to Human Resources and managers to find the right balance of office and remote working for their unique organization and their teams.

Achieving this requires high-level business change and adaptation. But it also demands a well-considered L&D strategy that earns the support of every stakeholder, to ensure that teams can thrive in this new working world.

See how CrossKnowledge can help your employees and managers thrive in this new working environment while keeping a strong company culture.