Blog / Best Practices / Human Resources / Hybrid Work

Hybrid working and performance management in the public sector

public sector
By chris

Best Practices / Human Resources / Hybrid Work | January 21, 2024

Embracing a New Era of Work in the Public Sector

The global workplace is currently in the midst of a revolutionary transformation, a transformation that is reshaping the very fabric of organisational dynamics. Whilst the world awaits the extent of the impact Artificial Intelligence (Ai) will have on our working lives, the post COVID-19 transition to hybrid working and the need to manage people effectively in a hybrid working world is well underway. The traditional model where managers would supervise and interact with their teams has been replaced by a mix of people working fully or partially remotely. Public sector organisations, in particular, find themselves at the forefront of this change, navigating through uncharted waters as they adopt hybrid working and look to deliver services to the public whilst managing their teams who are no longer working daily along side them.

Remote working has become a normal part of a public servants life

In the pre-pandemic era working remotely was available to public servants but not at the levels seen across government departments as it is now. This transformation, was underway back prior to the pandemic, but was propelled forward with by the far-reaching impact of the COVID-19, and forced organisations worldwide to rethink and restructure their traditional working models. In late 2023 research from showed that teams across the UK were working only 1.6 days in the office and globally this number was 1.7 days. To contrast this with prepandemic levels where it was 3.8 days in the office. With such reduced in-office time, public servants need to look at how they can effectively manage objectives and tasks, performance management and build teams and culture. Managers also need to look at which policies and procedures are needed to make remote working effective. One such policy many governments are adopting is to require a certain number of in-office days per week and report on adherence or non-adherence to the policy. When done effectively, this can be a different number customised for each individual employees circumstances.

Public Sector hybrid working now permanent fixture

This seismic shift in the workplace paradigm we now see as not just a temporary adjustment to an unprecedented global crisis; it marked the beginning of a new era in how work is conceptualised, structured, and executed. For public sector entities, this transition presents a unique opportunity – an opportunity to fundamentally redefine workplace norms and practices and how to deliver services to the public. By embracing this change, they can reimagine their work environments to be more flexible, responsive, and aligned with the evolving needs and expectations of the public they serve.

At the heart of this transformation is the imperative to strike a delicate balance – a balance between ensuring the well-being and satisfaction of employees and maintaining organisational performance, efficiency and service delivery. It’s about creating a work environment that supports and nurtures, while also driving productivity and meeting operational goals. Furthermore, this shift offers the potential for significant cost savings, which is particularly pertinent for the public sector, given their stewardship of public funds.

Objectives and Performance management

Transitioning to these new models of working comes with its own set of challenges. One of the primary challenges is the management of team performance and the delivery of services. For example, many departments were caught unaware and unable to manage the performance of their teams effectively.

When you have a team working along side you day-in day-out, the need for systems and processes to assign activities and the need for structured performance management could be easily over looked. However, with so few days in the office for the average government employee, no such luxury exists and service levels quickly drop without these systems. Managers need the tools to assign activities, goals, and objectives as well as systems to do regular performance review, 121s, feedback forums, and in-office days. With these tools properly implemented, departments can quickly increase service levels with the benefit of reduced office costs and a happier, workforce who have a better work-life balance.

Never in the office together

With the average employee doing 1.6-1.7 days in the office each week it is quite possible that weeks or even longer go by where managers are never physically present with the team they manage. Co-workers also can be ships that pass in the night and having processes in place to build team in such an environment is a critical success factor for any organisation.

Whilst offering employees the flexibility to work in environments that suit their personal and professional needs. team culture quickly fails if people are never in the office together. One strategy successfully implemented at many of our clients is the daily huddle where people are forbidden from talking about work. It is a meeting where discussions about weekend, family, holidays and events are the driver to help teams bond when they aren’t physically present together. HR practices such as this not only create a nicer working environment, but they lead to a happier more productive workforce and enhance efficiency, productivity, and employee engagement.

Public Sector can be a huge beneficiary of hybrid working models

The pandemic accelerated the adoption of hybrid working models, fundamentally changing the dynamics of the workplace. This shift offers significant advantages to the public sector, where the traditional rigidity of work practices has given way to more flexible and dynamic models but also where reduced real-estate costs can see funds redirected to important pubic services.

Having the tools such as in-office policies and performance management to manage this model is critical to successful implementation of hybrid working. As is having team building activities for teams that may never, or rarely, work together in the office. This move is not just about flexibility; it’s about redefining productivity and efficiency , enabling public sector organisations to operate more effectively and responsively with the right tools and processes.

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