A combination of remote work and office work requires much planning
This is stated by Pernilla Gripenberg, Director of Design and Delivery at Hanken & SSE that offers leadership development and strategic renewal to companies and individuals. Matti Kukkonen, Professor in Commercial Law and Head of the Department of Accounting and Commercial Law at Hanken, looks forward to brainstorming with colleagues to find the best hybrid models for leadership.
Some employees have for a long time longed for returning to the office together with colleagues, others would again be happy to continue working from home as much as possible. Managers are now pondering how to engage the employees to come back since working on-site has many benefits like new ideas coming from spontaneous meetings. Being on-site makes the communication between teams easier and supports the creation of a team spirit.
However, during the pandemic many employees have, according to Gripenberg, re-evaluated their lives when it comes to how they want to live and work, which means that one cannot automatically assume that everyone wants to return to the office as before.
“It is crucial to find ways to work where the best parts of remote and on-site work are combined. There is not only one solution that would suit all organisations, but each workplace must decide what suits them best.”
In the leadership trainings that Gripenberg has planned during the pandemic as support for remote work and remote leadership, new information has emerged that is useful also when different hybrid models are planned.
“One lesson is that people work diligently also at home, another that work and working hours require a lot of planning from the leaders. Also in the future, leaders will have to reserve a lot of time for planning in order to know where everyone is, what should be dealt with face to face or online, and how to find time for short matters at the same time when doing long-term planning.”
Self-leadership has been important when working from home, and according to Gripenberg, this will remain important for employees when planning their work and working hours.
The hybrid models also give rise to completely new questions.
“Leaders need to think about how to handle questions of diversity in order to avoid inequality between the groups that work at home and those who work in the office. For example, there may be a risk that tasks that are not so interesting are delegated to those who are present on-site, but on the other hand, the fact that one is present and visible can lead to better career opportunities.”
To find well-functioning technological solutions and to plan entire office spaces in new ways are also issues that are topical on many workplaces at the moment.
“Technology will be essential for finding solutions for situations where some participate online and others in the office. Many larger organisations are now also revaluating what kind of premises they need in the future. There will also be a need for quiet rooms where one can have video conferences – something that open offices are not suitable for,” Gripenberg brings to the fore.
Head of department Matti Kukkonen welcomes brainstorming for finding the best practices
Professor and Head of department Matti Kukkonen is one of those who is very happy to again be back at the office.
“Not everyone needs, of course to be on-site all the time, but there are issues that are easier to handle face to face. I have experienced that particularly large meetings with 30–40 participants are problematic since it then easily happens that some speak while others remain anonymous. In these cases, it is not really possible to keep track of who is active the meeting. In addition, it is more difficult to interrupt someone who talks for a long time online compared to live meetings.”
During the pandemic, Kukkonen has learned much that will be useful also in hybrid leadership.
“Virtual meetings cannot, for example, be very long and you must plan very carefully who is presenting and commenting and what kind of background material is needed for the meetings to work.”
Kukkonen looks forward to following how the new hybrid models for working will eventually be formed. He participated in an Hanken & SSE training about virtual leadership with Gripenberg in the spring of 2021, and he found it very useful.
“It was good to share ideas with colleagues. We researchers are not primarily organisational leaders, but it is a task that comes in addition to everything else we do and from which we constantly learn new things,” he concludes.
Text: Maria Svanström