Article The Importance of Change Management and Culture to Support Hybrid Working
By null / 5 Jul 2022
By null / 5 Jul 2022
The world of work has been through some pretty seismic changes over the past couple of years. As we emerge into a new way of working, we look at the need for effective change management to support the transition to hybrid and flexible working.
Jack Barnes, Senior Manager of Adoption and Change at Insight looks at the role that change management and culture play in a hybrid working model.
The new workplace for many isn’t a strictly binary choice between in-person or remote. Microsoft coined the phrase the ‘hybrid work paradox’ to describe how people want the flexibility of remote work, and also want the inspiration and ease of collaboration from in-person working. Ultimately, the focus has shifted from ‘where’ people work to ‘how they feel’. Employees want to understand the value that they bring and feel connected to the company’s purpose and culture.
The hybrid work era is now well underway. But there is still a lot to learn about how to best support it and how to bridge the gaps between the physical and digital working experience. Businesses and employees both need to ensure a consistent experience wherever work is actually performed. This calls for a more people-led approach, effectively a change in leadership style to empower employees and give them autonomy to thrive in these new models.
Research by IDC indicates that people are willing to switch jobs for a more caring and nurturing culture, and employers are prioritising technology investments to make hybrid working possible. This isn’t to say that the two are at odds. Employers are investing in technical tools to enhance the employee experience and increase employee satisfaction. As my teammate wrote in a post on what hybrid working means for the enterprise, the hasty adoption of remote working solutions often meant that they weren’t implemented with the same level of due diligence and security integration as others in the company's existing application stack. The same could be said for training and adoption of the new technology. The sheer pace of implementing remote working tools meant that employees may not have fully adopted them. Even now they might not be using them to their full potential. This can be addressed through adoption and change management programmes.
Businesses recognise that deploying technology alone isn’t enough to deliver transformation – it involves people and processes as well. Workplace transformation starts with putting people at the centre to build a culture that suits a more digital workforce. Change management is no different. According to McKinsey, a contributing factor to why 70% of transformations fail is a lack of engagement within the organisation. Success depends largely on your people being genuinely invested in the changes, and willing to use the tools necessary to be productive in a hybrid setting.
However well it suits the new way of working, technology alone will never deliver on its potential if you don’t bring your people along. A negative employee experience of new technology can result in a real loss of productivity. Ninety minutes googling how to do something with new tech is ninety productive minutes lost, and ninety minutes of frustration that the employee isn’t going to get back.
Effective change management can bridge the gap between people and technology. Training in how to use technology is vital, but it’s only part of a successful adoption programme and certainly shouldn’t end after just one session. It can take up to seven training ‘touches’ for new skills to become embedded. Education and training on remote working productivity and collaboration tools like M365 should be continuous.
Although training and education is part of change management, it’s also vital to identify and overcome resistance to change, and to communicate the ‘why’, the purpose behind the change to gain buy-in.
Good change management is planned into the start of a transformation programme. A company embarking on change without change management has to enforce change, which only breeds reluctance from people to go along on the journey. Far too often people think about change management late in the process. Usually when they’re trying to fix negativity after the implementation. This can come down to the culture of an organisation. One that isn’t inclusive of its employees’ thoughts and appears not to value their contributions will struggle to manage change rapidly and effectively. Why? Because when change is imposed and its acceptance taken for granted, people will resist it. It’s human nature. But when change is explained, understood and people get ‘what’s in it for me’, change has a much better chance of sticking.
Getting the right level of sponsorship across the organisation is vital. It’s hard to impose change upwards, so executive sponsorship is essential. But peer-level champions are just as important. Insight’s Adoption and Change Management programmes nearly always involve creating a champion network made up of a breadth of people from different parts of the organisation. These are the driving force for change. They coach people in the purpose behind the change and communicate the ‘what’s in it for me’ reasons for change. They often become technical coaches too, which helps to alleviate the pressure on IT helpdesks. This means that when we finish the change management programme, we leave the client with a network of people who want to share and continue to support the project.
How do we do it? Well, taking a quick peek beneath the bonnet, our methodology is based in part on the Prosci ADKAR model. ADKAR stands for Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability and Reinforcement.
This has become part of the toolkit we bring to every adoption and change management engagement. It’s proved to be successful and incredibly popular.
Change management programmes are increasingly becoming a game-changer in the successful roll-out of business transformation. Remember, change is inevitable, how people adapt to it is not. Change management and culture play a huge role in the successful delivery of change, and there hasn’t been more of a major, universal upheaval recently than the adoption of remote and hybrid working.
If you want to find out how to manage a change to your workplace with minimal friction and optimum results, visit be.insight.com/workplace