Telecommuting or remote work was a mere topic of discussion prior to the pandemic. Times changed and the world of work underwent a massive change at a rapid pace. Teams met virtually, and customers and business partners transacted business through online interactions. Except for the manufacturing facilities, project sites and some services, almost everything else was carried out happened in the digital realm. Organisations were quick to bring out remote working policies and took action to digitise their processes. Some of them revamped their rewards and recognition policies. Employees started adapting to the new reality. Many of them were happy to save time, effort and expenses incurred in their daily commute. The pandemic is done and dusted in many parts of the world. Have the bosses been able to adapt to the new reality?
Flexibility is our new reality
Employees have experienced the positives of remote work. They were able to customise their day’s schedule to accommodate their personal activities and professional commitments in the best possible manner. Moreover, they saved time and cost. They could pursue their passion without breaking a sweat. They came to their workplace for specific activities that needed their physical presence. So, they want this flexibility to continue forever.
Organisations have faced challenges to absorb the new joiners and align them with their culture. Sometimes they haven’t been able to get optimum productivity from their human resources because the employees ignored the missive to come to the workplace, and attend meetings with customers and business partners in person. Bosses are unhappy about it and want to see a change there.
They need to acknowledge this new reality and find ways of offering flexibility at their workplace without compromising productivity and the longer-term vision of the company.
Good relations or Disruption?
Given the context of hybrid work, bosses find it hard if not impossible, to get an early warning when one or more members of the team are not engaged fully or start slipping away from the mainstream. Of course, this is true! However, the way a boss responds to this reality makes him or her unique.
Some bosses have started new practices of frequent check-ins with their employees. Some of them do this to figure out if the employee is actually working; sometimes, they want to check if the employee is committed enough to the purpose and goals of the organisation. Some bosses are on an overdrive to see results happen and hence, keep outreaching and reviewing. Alas! They do not realise, they are disrupting the schedule of their employees and risking their productivity.
Driving the Changes
Some of us do not believe that hybrid work must be continued. We want our teams to get back to the physical workplace as we worked in the pre-pandemic days. We have not been able to enforce the changes strictly because the labour market has continued to remain attractive for top talent and they fear that the attrition rate could rise and they would have to deal with the rigmarole of backfilling the open roles.
Some organisations have deployed employee surveillance software to track employee behaviours on their laptops and smartphones. This has not only broken the trust between the employee and the employer but also given rise to a sharp drop in the efforts employees take to think through various situations and evolve solutions that can usher in a positive impact. Bosses realise this but haven’t been able to facilitate this process of collaboration, brainstorming and teamwork in the new reality.
Great bosses show their leadership in sustaining and building an atmosphere of trust and accountability with their employees. They speak with the members of their team transparently and show empathy in all possible ways. They lead by example, stretch the limits and inspire their people to walk the extra mile. These behaviours build a sense of ownership in their teams, earn them respect and create a camaraderie that can work as a huge social capital which can be deployed to build a sustainable organisation.