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The new approach to evaluating and measuring productivity in the hybrid working environment

How to enable productive employees with effective hybrid structures.

I’ve counselled enough businesses to learn that companies want a simple solution to challenges like productivity. The truth is there is no single answer to such a complex issue. The good news is that hybrid working structures, while requiring new managerial competencies, also provide new approaches to evaluation and measurement.

At Brother UK, we’ve led the conversation on hybrid working, redesigning our headquarters and empowering and equipping our dispersed workforce to excel anywhere. Research agency IDC stated that only 9.5% of companies were extremely prepared for hybrid working, with holistic strategies across functions and hybrid as the default working style. I'm pleased we are in this bracket.

Already a trusted partner to thousands of companies in the pre-Covid era, we’ve helped organisations from SMEs to major businesses embrace a post-lockdown transition to location-independent working.

Implementing hybrid does not guarantee overnight success, however. Employees, each managing a unique set of individual circumstances, must feel empowered and trusted. In my experience, factors including age, geographical location and the home environment are as important to productivity as more established indicators, such as personality types and motivational drivers.

Measuring productivity is now all about outcomes, engagement and quality of work

Leading dispersed teams is a competency in itself, and we’ve invested in training our people who lead people to ensure that their skills are up to date.

For decades, we managed by sight: reading the non-verbal cues of office behaviour. Now, new management capabilities are required, alongside new measures of outcome-based productivity.

It’s vital to determine an effective split between home and office. At Brother UK, colleagues in appropriate areas (certain roles can only be performed on-site) work remotely for three days a week and from the office for two (3/2) – meaning 60% of their available time is spent at home. At the beginning of our pilot, it was the other way around (2/3) so listen to your people as you design and refine your offer. Learn more about our methods to achieving business productivity at Brother.

Trust is the cornerstone of effective hybrid working environments

Lockdown provided the ultimate stress test of the psychological contract between employer and employee. Since 2020, we’ve redesigned our offices, refamliarised our workforce and reintegrated them to on-site working, but trust has remained fundamental. You cannot run an effective hybrid working policy without trust at its core.

Trust is a two-way street, but in hybrid structures especially, it represents a win-win scenario. Companies who use hybrid to create a more supportive, ethical and balanced way to work empower their workforce with responsibility, confidence, increased morale and better mental health. In return, employers are rewarded with higher productivity.

I mentioned that people are central to productivity, and trust is surely hybrid’s most person-centred aspect. I mentioned, too, that every individual has unique personal circumstances. As an employer, we know the reward for offering support during a personal crisis is loyalty and productivity. When support is absent, trust degenerates.

Establishing a common understanding is crucial. Companies need work delivered to the right standard and by agreed deadlines. Offering flexible working hours, so long as deadlines and standards are met, gives people an empowering sense of responsibility. Our managers use hybrid’s flexibility to inspire obligation and engagement.

Creating an effective hybrid environment with wellbeing at the core

At Brother UK, we’ve always been proactive in our approach to mental health. During the unprecedented pressures of lockdown, we developed informal feedback loops alongside more structured approaches such as regular check-in calls.

However, we learned that certain care and support interventions are more difficult to deliver in fully-remote structures. It requires a lot of discipline and focus.

Hybrid places an increased responsibility on companies to support employee wellbeing. Many conventional tools and facilities for safeguarding mental health were designed to be delivered in the office. We’ve developed a more nuanced approach to ensure we remain sensitive to the individual needs and circumstances of everyone in our organisation.

Simple changes can lead to a productive hybrid workforce

Interview candidates place our adoption of hybrid working among their primary motivations for seeking a career with Brother UK, and implementing location-independent working is almost certain to be popular with your workforce. Research by McKinsey found that up to 90 per cent of employees are on board with hybrid structures.

Existing employees have backed our transition to a dispersed workforce, too. Reassuringly, they’ve understood that challenges are inevitable in such a dramatic change to working practices. We’ve embraced hybrid together, as an organisation, drawing on a resilient corporate culture that recognises the vital connection between personal circumstances and workplace performance.

Our workforce understands clearly that growth is essential for the company’s continued success. While aspects of our business continually evolve, productivity remains fundamental to our survival. By implementing simple, structured changes, as well as by investing in our office refurbishment and providing the right technology, we’ve leveraged hybrid to deliver productivity, wellbeing and business success.

My advice is not to delay transitioning to hybrid. Accept that budgetary constraints will always exist and do what is practical now to add value to your office environment, build organisational trust and equip managers with new competencies. A modern organisational value proposition (OVP) that meets employee expectations for remote working is essential.

Acknowledge from the outset that adopting hybrid will present challenges and stay focussed on the proven benefits that a dispersed workforce – healthier, happier, empowered by responsibility and more engaged in the company’s wider success – can deliver for your business. Hybrid structures and dispersed workforces are fast becoming the new normal.

Head to the Brother UK Hybrid Working hub to discover more about creating effective hybrid structures for your workplace.

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