The current work environment is challenging to assess due to various factors. As job vacancies have decreased for the last 11 quarters due to industry-wide uncertainty, the economic slump limits growth opportunities, leading to a cautious approach when hiring new employees.

Adding to the confusion, digitalisation and the recent Flexible Working Bill has introduced significant changes that allow employees the right to request to work remotely or in the office, offering more flexibility to the workforce. In fact, 87% of employees in 2023 want to work remotely for the majority of the time, but to date remote-only work accounts for 65% of LinkedIn job searches.

The competition to secure top talent exacerbates budget constraints, leading to companies adopting new models that incorporate freelance workers and full-time hires in hybrid teams. As a result, old-fashioned leadership techniques became ill-suited for the new hybrid work environment.

Today, businesses need leaders who understand how to drive success by practising consistency, focus, empathy and fairness. Following the guidelines below can help leaders become catalysts for the workplace of tomorrow.

Creating a collective and well-defined vision

Having a clear sense of purpose is crucial in ensuring team members understand the reason behind their work engagement. It involves establishing a shared goal, which entails setting clear objectives, obtaining buy-in from all team members, and trusting them to determine the best approach to achieve those objectives. Teams need to feel assured that they have the support of leadership and the opportunity to collaborate in decision-making. Additionally, keeping teams updated on progress in real-time fosters confidence and maintains motivation.

Building trust takes time

In the past, employees followed leaders based on their titles or roles, but trust is of utmost importance now. Leaders are expected to act with fairness, take the time to gather information and comprehend the situation at hand. They need to be consistent and dependable, but there may be occasions that require courage and decisiveness. To truly establish trust and unlock the team’s full potential, leaders must prioritise the wellbeing of their team members and adopt a people-centric leadership approach. They don’t need to have all the answers. However, effective management involves recognising the expertise within the team and trusting them to apply their skills.

Promoting a sense of community and togetherness

Selecting the right leaders involves evaluating a wide range of attributes, and significant investments should be made in their development. Equipped with these tools, leaders can assume responsibility for ensuring the happiness and sense of belongingness of their team members. It is essential to be genuine, providing psychological safety by actively listening, demonstrating care, and addressing negative behaviour. Sharing experiences in a way that motivates and encourages the team is also critical. Leaders must accept diverse viewpoints and display traits of open-mindedness and collaboration. Most importantly, leaders must recognise and celebrate successes, which rewards teamwork.

Staying true to values and beliefs

While leaders may possess extensive experience or have excelled in a specific role, they are still continuously learning. The emergence of the hybrid workplace has introduced new dynamics, and there are no fixed rules for managing teams in such diverse environments. As a result, leaders are finding a way in establishing the most effective work settings for their teams. This involves actively seeking feedback to identify strengths and areas for self-improvement and avoiding complacency by not adhering to traditional practices or assumptions. A sense of courage is necessary to foster a culture of constructive feedback, encouraging diverse perspectives and fostering creativity. Empowering teams to respectfully challenge leadership decisions and provide alternative approaches, known as intelligent disobedience, is vital for achieving success in this evolving landscape.

Knowledge is power

Enabling the development of individual potential across departments and teams is an integral part of a leader’s role. The most effective way to achieve this is by disseminating information in all directions within the organisation. By equipping teams with facts, data, and insights, they are better-positioned to make informed decisions and work collaboratively. When leaders create an environment where it is acceptable to fail fast in pursuit of success, teams embrace challenges and learn rapidly. In hybrid work environments, leaders can maximise their teams’ productivity by prioritising effective communication channels for sharing information.

As teams become more hybrid, collaboration and navigation across boundaries may pose new challenges. However, it is often at the intersection of multiple boundaries where solutions to today’s pressing business challenges are discovered. While previously, managers have been appointed based on their tenure or experience in a specific role rather than their expertise in managing teams, organisations today are investing more in training leaders and cultivating a new style of company culture.

With leaders becoming less physically or geographically integrated with their teams, the focus will shift towards inspiring allyship, commitment, and creativity in virtual settings. Consequently, when leaders demonstrate a willingness to adjust their strategies, embrace change, and approach the future with an agile and collaborative mindset, members of the hybrid workforce are likely to follow suit.

Country Head UK at Malt | Website | + posts

Charlotte Gregson is the UK Country Head at Malt, an end-to-end talent marketplace that allows companies across the UK and Europe to source and manage freelance talent, from consulting, tech/digital, data and creative professions. With over a decade focused on cross-sector talent management, she has specialised in building network businesses to place independent talent; most recently she led CoMatch’s UK division (acquired by Malt in 2022). Prior to that, her academic studies took her from a PhD in Chemistry at Imperial College to a stint in management consulting with L.E.K. Consulting and IMS Health (now IQVIA).
Charlotte is a vocal advocate for women in business, aspiring to change the lack of role models at a senior level and demonstrate an empathetic leadership style, which extends to her original A-team: Alexandra who is 10 years old and Aiden who is five.