Transition to Hybrid Work: The Role of Managers, Research 2022

Apr 4, 2023
As the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are fading out, the question of whether to return to the office full-time has caused a lot of debate among employees and managers. To have a deeper understanding of how leaders feel in this new work setting, what are the main challenges and shifts in skill requirements they experience and how companies have supported them, ERDA surveyed 336 and interviewed 10 managers in the Baltics. This summary contains the main insights.

Key findings

#1 Even within the same company, hybrid work experiences and needs differ

78% of managers in the Baltic States enjoy hybrid work model and the reasons include higher flexibility, improved focus, less commuting and personal cost reduction. The remaining 22% say they cannot fully enjoy working in a hybrid environment due to communication being slowed down, difficulties to read teams overall sentiment and create a sense of belonging through little Zoom squares.

We noticed an interesting correlation between changes in trust level since moving to a hybrid work setting and how much managers enjoy it. The ones who reported no changes or increase in trust levels, also tend to have higher satisfaction rate (on average 7.38 out of 10) and vice versa. Those who reported a decrease in trust levels have lower satisfaction with the hybrid work model (6.42 out of 10).

#2 Leading successfully in a hybrid model requires more effort and a different skill set

Process effectiveness has changed since employees no longer work fully on-site. Managers report that they have had to make adjustments to how certain processes were carried out before. For most processes, decrease in effectiveness is reported more often than increase. For example, 31.55% managers noticed a decrease in communication effectiveness while only 18.75% reported increased effectiveness. 

This has also caused a change in the skill set that managers must have to lead successfully. Leadership no longer dominates during crisis and when working in a hybrid work environment. In fact a lot higher ranking skills are the good old management skills, resource management and problem-solving skills. 

#3 Despite various support mechanisms offered, managers still seek more of them 

The most useful and also most commonly offered support mechanisms during Covid-19 pandemic were equipment for working from home, tools and structure for process simplification, autonomy and flexibility to choose working hours. However, middle-level managers often reported going out of their way to support their employees, but not feeling the same level of support from senior management. This is what they say would help them lead better:

·  Dedicated time and funding for face-to-face team-building events;
·  Clear rules and role modeling from senior management;
·  Freedom to choose a different work model for each team;
·  Mentorship and coaching.

“By giving me a chair (laughs). Actually no, not by giving it but by offering me to buy it. […]To be honest, I don't think that there really has been support."*

 * An answer to a question 'how did the company you work for support you during this period of change'?

It is clear that hybrid work is here to stay and our future employees will view it as a must, not as a bonus when looking for a job. To be able to embrace the opportunities hybrid work can give us, managers need to adapt and find new ways of working. Processes have to change and trust must be built between managers and employees - by doing that we can ensure that hybrid work is both enjoyable and effective.

For more detailed information about the results of this research, download the full report.

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