Training for a Hybrid Workforce

By dessquire, 13 July, 2023

Remote work is no longer just a nice perk offered by some companies. These days, it's a key benefit employees have come to expect. Following the recent Covid19 pandemic, as companies return to their offices, many are finding value in a hybrid work model that still allows flexibility.

Being open to both in-office and remote workers broadens your potential workforce pool and it shows support for employee well-being. But this kind of flexibility also impacts the way your organization operates. It means rethinking policies and processes. It also means re-evaluating your employee training as might be appropriate for  hybrid workplace

What Is A Hybrid Work Model?

A hybrid workplace is a mix of in-office and remote work. You support both, and employees choose which suits them best or they may switch between the two depending on their needs. Hybrid work adjusts to support the best work-life balance for your employees. In some instances it has been seen to boosts productivity and profitability.

There are plenty of reasons to consider the hybrid workplace approach including:

  • More flexibility and a good work/life balance for existing employees
  • An attractive benefit for potential employees
  • More efficiency and higher revenue
  • Lower overall operating costs

While I see this as a potentially good thing for companies it may not necessarily be the best thing for the employees for various reasons. Many employees are not capable of managing themselves in a home based, hybrid environment. Many have received little or no training related to working from home and the inherent dangers.  Some of the questions that need to be considered include:

  • Are the hybrid workers actually working and how are they being managed and monitored?
  • What impact is the hybrid workplace approach having on overall productivity?
  • What impact is the new workplace having on the wellbeing of the employees?

These are just some of the questions we need to consider if the way forward is a hybrid workplace. My question would therefore be, what changes need to be made, what policies need to be addressed and what training interventions need to be implemented. Are managers equipped to handle the new hybrid worker and are the right workers and managers being employed?

No matter how strong your learning and development strategy was before the pandemic, you should review it now, if you haven’t already done so. If you’re making the transition to a flexible work model, you'll want to rethink and revise your training program for a hybrid workforce. That means taking a good look at how you deliver training as well as at what content will be the most useful.

It takes specific skills to succeed in hybrid work. Knowing where to start will help you build a solid strategy for rolling out training. Here’s a list of 4 skills to focus on as you develop your training plan for the new work environment.

  • Communication
  • Team-Building
  • Leadership
  • Employee wellbeing

Training For a Successful Hybrid Workforce

Flexible work patterns look different in every organisation. There’s no "one-size-fits-all" approach to implementing a hybrid work model. But one thing you can count on is that training will be central to your success. 

What skills should businesses develop?

The skills essential for successful hybrid working may include communication, empathy, and self-reliance as well as diary management. These are generally more difficult to train than technical skills. 

This may well result in a need for updating your recruitment processes to better identify these ‘soft skills’, particularly when recruiting managers. Targeted or competency based recruiting and selection becomes and essential as potential employees may need to have a completely different skills and competency set. Businesses will need to place more weight on competency-based interview questions to identify how candidates have previously demonstrated such skills.

The role of managers in this process is particularly important as managers need to be proactive and connect new starters with staff across the organisation where office-based mixing cannot be relied on.

All line managers need therefore to focus on boosting hybrid workers’ engagement and performance by:

  • Establishing clear expectations (Performance planning)
  • Creating agreements for ways of working (performance agreements/management)
  • Focusing on performance outcomes (performance appraisals)
  • Communicating effectively (including understanding which communication channels to use and when)
  • Checking on individuals’ wellbeing.

© Des Squire – Managing Member of AMSI and Associates cc

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