On the 26th of january Epicenter hosted ‘Mastering the hybrid workplace’ – an event about the massive change in every aspect of our work-life and how we can face the future so our companies can keep up with the change.

We need to talk about how to optimize the hybrid workplace and strategy – Not about if we are going to work from home, because we talk a lot about that already.

“We need to talk about other aspects of hybrid everyday life. So what is really hybrid? It’s about companies reaching new goals and ambitions. It’s about our employees and colleagues mastering their new tasks and work situations. It’s also about our leaders, trying to motivate their team in other work situations than they are used to”, says Mathias Willumsen, Head of Community at Epicenter Oslo.

Everything is behaving differently. We are changing and our customers are changing. Therefore maybe our strategies and the way we are interacting with people also should be working differently.

Heidi Nygjelten, is Nordic Chief People and Culture Officer at Amesto. Nygjelten has great insight and knowledge about the hybrid workplace and how to master it.

“Corona has given us a once in a lifetime opportunity to take part in maybe one of the largest workplace transformations ever” – Nygjelten says.

Last year Amesto launched a new project with a purpose of gaining insight to what the future looks like.

“What we learned is that flexibility really matters to our people. Eight out of ten said work location and flexible working hours was important. There is no size fits all, some prefer the office, others their home, cabin or somewhere else. And almost everyone said they wanted the freedom to decide when to work from there” – Nygjelten says.

Instead of a policy document describing all kinds of different hybrid workplace scenarios and which had to be adjusted after every press conference, Amesto launched a manifesto to support people, planet and profit.

“First of all flexibility means freedom of choice to our people. Work location flexibility can mean better quality of life, being able to move out of the cities, lower cost of living and being an even better environment for children to grow up in” Nygjelten points out.

Secondly, the manifesto is good for the planet because of less transportations. The reduction in commute hours takes cars off the road and decreases the need for public transportation.  

“Thirdly, business sustainability and attracting and retaining talent is critical to Amesto and our customers’ success. Freedom and flexibility are clear expectations from talents nowadays. It also makes it easier for us to attract people with diverse backgrounds and we can approach a big talent market” – Nygjelten says.

The pandemic has seperated good leaders from average managers. The skills needed to lead now are different, and maybe even a little bit uncomfortable for many managers who are used to task oriented-leadership with focus on structure and keeping control. However, it’s not just about adapting to a new way of work. It’s about adjusting leadership to the massive changes in the labor market.

Another aspect Nygjelten highlights is that as many as 50 present are currently thinking about quitting their jobs. And the pandemic has changed the way we think about our jobs as well. Eight out of ten have considered if their job fits into their lives during the last eighteen months.

“ Leadership is about understanding what attracts talent and retaints them. We have in Amesto tech house identified three focus areas for our leaders. First of all, be intentional about culture. Despite the fears we initially have about less engagement, the actual feedback from our employees shows most of our people believe that the shift to hybrid working is something positive” – Nygjelten.

More than ever people need to be seen and understood not only as an employee, but as a whole person. It’s about taking time to get to know your people and recognizing more than performance and delivery, but really see, care for and understand their situation and needs.

“To build closer relationships you must be willing to open up yourself and dare to be vulnerable. Personal is the new professional, and leadership is a contact sport” – Nygjelten.

According to Gallup only ten percent of employees are engaged in their workplace. This means that eight out of ten are either disengaged or are only trying to make it through the day.

“The connection to meaningfulness has become more important to us during the pandemic. Because we don’t get to go to the office and meet our colleagues. In fact, more employees expect their jobs to bring a significant sense of purpose to their life” – Nygjelten says. 

People experiencing meaningfulness at work is good for the business too. It translates into people staying longer, salary is less important, they perform better and are ambassadors.

To sum up, Nygjelten says it’s important to establish what’s important and to translate that into a hybrid work arrangement. Then to get insight and make data driven-decisions. Involve, ask, listen to all stakeholders, study and read. Set up surveys and frequent pulses.

“Be intentional about leadership and culture. Don’t leave it to chance, get to know your people, involve and understand what’s important to them and help them connect purpose to work” – Nygjelten finishes.

Watch the slides from Heidi’s presentation here

Check out the rest of the event:

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