21st Century, a specialist Remuneration and Human Capital consultancy, is “taking the hybrid bull by the horns” and stepping up to help other organisations formalise their hybrid working models. Is hybrid working the way forward, even beyond the pandemic? Craig Raath, and Morag Phillips, Executive Directors at 21st Century share their take on the working approach that is fast becoming the norm and a possible differentiator for employers.
Why hybrid working? Craig Raath delves deeper into the evolution of the hybrid approach during the pandemic.
“At the beginning of the pandemic, organisations were largely concerned about how they were going to control employees and manage performance,” says Raath. He continues, “After just a few weeks, however, leadership in many organisations actually observed that performance had improved.
“In fact, a great number of people were arguably working too hard. The narrative has changed rather dramatically now because we are over a year into this new way of living. And organisations are struggling with engagement rather than output per sē. They are grappling with their sense of community, with information sharing and silo behaviour. That’s the consequence of working remotely while still trying to drive an integrated culture.
“Observing the widespread trends happening around us, we have found that there's a real need for organisations to set up a robust process and put models in place to get the balance right. Having said this, we acknowledge that a hybrid model and remote working is not possible for every job or every industry. Where it can be possible, it has huge potential”.
Morag Phillips adds, “The hybrid model, in the simplest terms, can provide employers and employees with the best of both worlds; the flexibility to work at home and the freedom to have other priorities in life, like going for a run in the morning or sleeping, instead of commuting in the traffic for example.
“When employees are at the office, their presence is intentional, not forced. People are choosing to be in the office for collaborative events and they get to experience culture too. In online meetings, most conversations are agenda driven. The interpersonal aspect is lacking. Hybrid working brings that aspect back to life and work.
“For employers, there are serious cost saving implications if you get the hybrid balance right, and you are also unlocking one of the best employee value proposition (EVP) prospects through engagement opportunities”.
Raath continues, “As the new generation matriculates, a hybrid approach is going to be the expectation. And the companies that get this right are going to have a strategic advantage over those who haven't, because it's going to be extremely attractive in terms of the EVP for organisations that have the right boundaries in place but also provide employees with psychological safety, in that they've got a community”.
With a future-focused mindset firmly in place, 21st Century is taking hybrid working on the road, by launching its hybrid working assessment and implementation process, designed to equip companies of all shapes and sizes to formalise working hybrid models, tailored to their individual scope and outputs.
The process begins with a thorough hybrid model readiness assessment, which is assessed based on every company’s basic pillars of success. They then unpack the elements that could help implement practical measures and structure to formalise a bespoke hybrid model, and this is translated into behavioural change management, formalised ways of working, touchpoints and industry-specific tools that will allow the hybrid model to flourish.
Raath explains the custom-fit approach to formulating hybrid models: “When we originally started talking about creating working models for organisations, we thought everyone would fall onto a continuum, but the more we grappled with this as a team, we realised we had to account for the individuality of each organisation, and to speak to the core individuality of each team member. So, our process can only work as a bespoke solution. There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach”.
Raath enthuses, “We have been forced to reinvent work and it’s also become about what the vision for the end state post COVID is. We need to build a more permanent state of working that is future-focused. There is a definite need to plug employees into the new EVP, which is culturally sensitised and integrated”.
Phillips adds, “The inspiration for starting this initiative was our own commitment to our company, and to keep it a happy place to be. We had to grapple with what a happy place to work looks like. We realised that other organisations were grappling with the same thing – particularly in bigger organisations.
“Being in the consulting field, the most important element of formulating a model is being able to see the consequences of getting it wrong. And I think we’ve been able to do that. We forecast potential issues and mitigate them in advance, to avoid potential failures.
Raath concludes, “There is never a simple black and white approach to effective hybrid working. We aim to ensure that organisations get it right and position themselves as employers of choice. You must effectively balance intentional presence with recognising individuality and taking advantage of the technology and tools at your disposal. When the right model is in place, businesses have the potential to truly flourish, in COVID times and beyond”.
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About 21st Century
21st Century is one of the largest Remuneration and HR consultancies in Africa, with a team of more than 60 skilled specialists, servicing over 1700 clients – including non-profit organisations, unlisted companies, government, parastatals and over two thirds of the companies listed on the JSE. 21st Century offers effective business planning with KPA and strategic planning reviews, creative reward practise modelling, operating modelling, change, stakeholder and culture management, training courses and comprehensive organisational development plans. 21st Century continues to offer solutions via virtual channels during the lockdown period.
In this volatile and uncertain environment, the way of working is changing dramatically. There are new – and often unprecedented – challenges that require businesses to plan rapidly and take decisive and immediate action. 21st Century offers a Resilience Audit assessing businesses during COVID-19 for their sustainability, offering these businesses tailor made solutions and developing new remuneration structures and performance measurement systems, as well as helping with managing organisational changes within the business.
Issued By: The Lime Envelope
On Behalf Of: 21st Century
For Media Information: Bronwyn Levy
Telephone: 011 467 9233/ 076 078 1723