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01 Jun 2022

Hybrid work : how to face organizational and managerial challenges

Today, companies must find a new balance to perpetuate the office/telework mix and meet the new uses and expectations of their stakeholders. Christine Caldeira, Secretary General of the National Association of Human Resources Directors (ANDRH), looks at the organizational and managerial challenges that companies are facing at the time of work hybridization and the best practices to adopt to make this transition a success.

travail hybride management

The shift to a hybrid organization over the past two years has been accompanied by profound changes: in work and communication patterns, in roles within the company, and in needs in terms of tools and training. Quoting a survey on the future of work conducted by ANDRH in March 2022, Christine Caldeira deciphers: “Hybridization is disrupting companies at two main levels: the organization of work, which must adapt to the new expectations of employees and candidates, and management, whose role and practices must evolve to support and promote this new organization.”

Reorganizing work to meet new expectations of flexibility

The end on September 1, 2021 of the minimum number of days teleworked and the entry into force of the new health protocol, which lets companies define their own telework framework, has opened the door to social dialogue around telework. The ANDRH survey shows that telework is becoming more permanent, with an average of two days per week and an expected increase in the number of eligible positions. The majority of companies therefore prefer a hybrid organization, mixing face-to-face and telework, with “all telework” remaining an exception in France.

If negotiations around hybrid work should allow maintaining the link between teams and preventing the risks linked to the isolation of remote employees, Christine Caldeira also notes a “strong issue of attractiveness for companies, which must meet the expectations of candidates in terms of work organization. The issue of hybrid work has become a major factor in their choice of company. The ANDRH survey highlights the changing expectations of candidates who, like employees, value their employer’s flexibility in terms of work location and working hours and aspire to more personalization in work organization.

Changing management practices, the keystone of the transformation

This transformation of work methods goes hand in hand with a transformation of management methods. “There has been a lot of talk about digital maturity, but not enough about managerial maturity,” says Christine Caldeira. “Management styles have changed significantly with hybrid work, moving towards more trust, more team empowerment and less control. Managers are now expected to respond to their teams’ strong search for meaning and to position themselves as real agents of motivation and responsibility.

But to take place, the transition to a management style based on transparency, trust and agility must be supported at the highest level of the company. Deploring the fact that employees are less interested in management since the Covid-19 crisis, the Secretary General of ANDRH insists on the need to train managers in new management practices, and on the central role of human resources in the implementation of this support.

The HR Director at the heart of change management

As the guarantor of the company’s transformation towards an agile, digital and inclusive organizational model, the Human Resources Director (HRD) has gained in importance and influence since the pandemic. He or she plays a decisive role in the implementation of hybrid work, with one watchword: get all stakeholders on board. “The challenge for HR managers in defining the telework framework is to foster a constructive social dialogue,” explains Christine Caldeira. “For example, it is essential to set up an internal survey before concluding a telework framework agreement; you cannot just do it with the social partners without making sure that the agreement meets the expectations of the employees.

Deploying onboarding and training tools in hybrid mode, engaging employees remotely and facilitating their return to the office, experimenting with new organizational models using teams of beta testers… The HR director continues to support change on all fronts, including the layout of premises. After two years of profound upheavals in the way people work, companies need to reappropriate their workspace to meet new needs, with an emphasis on flexibility, learning and teamwork. Many companies have also chosen to contribute to the development of the home workspace, by allocating a dedicated budget to all their teleworking employees.

Reinstilling the collective in a phygital world

Hybrid work is becoming more and more common, but as we can see, there are still many challenges. Among the risks identified by companies, the ANDRH survey highlights the emergence and reinforcement of inequalities between employees. At least 70% of HR managers fear a decrease in social interaction, a weakening of the feeling of belonging to the company and a lack of cohesion between teleworkers and others, although this has not yet been translated into reality.”It is absolutely necessary to reinject a sense of community in a world that has become phygital,” recommends Christine Caldeira, who also insists on the need to reinforce the inclusiveness of internal communication. Setting up special times to create links between teams and valuing people who are less flexible due to the nature of their jobs are two essential actions, according to her, to meet the challenge of hybridization. She concludes: “Flexibility, listening and questioning are the keys to successfully get through this pivotal period, rich in new possibilities for companies.”

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