Has your workplace gone hybrid? What you need to know

14. December 2021 - By Marianne Egelund Siig, CEO at Mannaz & Peter Wang Maarbjerg, Vice President, Public & Welfare at Mannaz Share

According to researchers, hybrid work can be detrimental to your working life and career prospects. However, much can be mitigated if you and your manager are aware of factors such as; fairness, the out-of-sight-out-of-mind effect and your influence. Get inspired by this article.

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Many have developed a taste for working from home during Covid: the peace, flexibility and commuting time saved. Maybe you’re one of those who now works two days at home and three days at the office, while your colleagues have their own pattern.

That’s the hybrid workplace. In a perfect world, it offers equal opportunities and resources to everyone, whether you work mainly in the office or primarily at home.

However, there are many indications that this isn’t the case.

According to Professor Martine Haas of the Lauder Institute and Professor Mark Mortensen of INSEAD, too much working from home or staggered hours can damage your ability to deliver results and advance your career, unless you and your manager are aware of the challenges of hybrid working.

Based on their research, we’ve further formulated and developed key points that need to be addressed if the hybrid organisation is to be fair to all. As an employee, you have a significant role in safeguarding your own working life.

 

Working from home comes at a price

While it’s great to avoid the rush hour traffic and distractions of the big office, there’s one thing you’ll get less of in the home office: access to resources.

Resources should be understood in a broad sense and cover a wide spectrum. In practical terms, most people have a weaker network connection at home, less IT security and no height-adjustable desk. In a less tangible sense, you are more cut off from information. The distance to your colleagues is more significant than the distance to professional support and social interaction.

Of course, you can be proactive in seeking information and support. However, there is a risk that you won’t have the same kind of access to resources in the broad sense as you would have were you physically present in the office.

 

Out of sight, out of mind

A further challenge with a hybrid organisation is that colleagues and managers unconsciously overlook employees who work from home or at different times. This is true even if the boss works from home. This out-of-sight-out-of-mind effect can have a considerable impact on the allocation of responsibilities, resources and rewards.

When you are not physically present in the office, there is a risk that you’ll have less influence on your boss and your colleagues. Additionally, it becomes harder for you to read attitudes, network and cultivate relationships when you are not in the same location. And the effects of not being present become more significant over time.

In other words, there is a price to pay for working from home that you as an employee need to be aware of and to weigh up when organising your working life and talking to your manager.

Unless you, your manager and your organisation work to combat this trend, employees who work from home are at risk of experiencing a less fair workplace over time.

 

What should you be aware of?

  • Access to resources: get to know the ‘supply chain’ – even from a distance.
  • Access to information: make sure regular meetings are held and other reliable sources of communication are available.
  • Access to professional and social support: make sure you have frequent and direct contact with your manager and colleagues.
  • Networking and relationships: networking can be particularly challenging for new employees in a hybrid work situation.
  • Fair treatment: pay attention to equal visibility – regardless of geographic distance from the team leader.
  • Influence on manager and colleagues: make sure everyone is on a similar playing field when selecting the team line-up for a task.

 

Hybrid competency is a great advantage

In hybrid organisations, where employees and managers work more from home and in broader shift patterns, certain individual qualities are a great advantage to have and to build on. You could call it hybrid competency.

For example, it’s a powerful advantage in the hybrid organisation to be good at identifying and pinpointing resources you need and then insisting on getting them, because it will provide a more substantial base from which to deliver results. The same is true for networking skills because, through your extended network, you’ll be able to access some of the knowledge that you risk missing out on if you work a lot from home.

In terms of networking, it can also be an advantage for employees with greater seniority with a more extensive network and greater insight into the organisation and its formal and informal hierarchies.

 

Ensuring fair treatment of colleagues

Using your hybrid skills will ensure that opportunities move increasingly in your direction. Unfortunately, this may be at the expense of a colleague with less seniority and weaker networks, who is less able to navigate the hybrid organisation, or perhaps who is an introvert. Such a bias may become even more pronounced because retaining transparency in a hybrid organisation is challenging. This indicates that fair treatment is an essential management task in the hybrid organisation, which you can read more about in the article on the hybrid management task.

 

Article previously published at www.ida.dk

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Marianne Egelund Siig

Marianne Egelund Siig, CEO at Mannaz and advisor on gender equality, diversity and inclusion. She is a renowned strategic leader dedicated to creating value and purpose for people, businesses and the wider community. Marianne is a thought leader in gender equality, diversity and inclusion. For more than twenty years, she has led successful business transformations in leadership, team, talent and organisational strategy and development, including diversity and inclusion.

Prior to Mannaz, Marianne held leadership roles at Nordea, at the Group level as Head of Diversity and Inclusion (2014-2018), Head of Leadership Development and Talent Management (2010-2014) and Head of HR, Savings & Asset Management (2006-2010). Marianne has been CEO of KaosManagement, a Nordic consulting company, for eight years. She has written for Berlingske and POV International for more than ten years, tackling leadership, gender, diversity, and inclusion issues. Marianne contributes pro-bono to many advisory boards and initiatives concerning gender equality, diversity and inclusion, both in Denmark and internationally.

Contact Marianne at mes@mannaz.com or +45 4517 6000.

Peter Wang Maarbjerg

Peter Wang Maarbjerg is Vice President, Public & Welfare at Mannaz. His specialism is leadership development, change management and organisational design.

In recent years, he has worked on the development and design of the future workplace, including the management of remote workers.

Peter has experience as a manager and top executive in Copenhagen and as a partner and manager in several consulting firms.

Contact Peter at pwm@mannaz.com or +45 2428 5973.