Empathic Leadership needed for more effective hybrid work

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In a recent IDC Perspective titled Empathic Leadership for a Hybrid Future of Work, IDC analyzes the path forward from hierarchical to empathetic leadership to enable more effective hybrid work models. Additionally, this report also provides insights on the myths related to hybrid work, the differences between taking strictly rigid versus more resilient approaches to leadership, and the characteristics of empathetic leadership.

“Empathy must lead to actions. Great leaders take the responsibility to make positive changes happen and make sure they are practiced enterprise-wide. Leaders who are real change agents set examples to make others truly believe that changes are genuine and long-term,” says Dr. Lily Phan, Research Director for Future of Work, IDC Asia/Pacific.

As organizations have embraced hybrid working, leaders are looking to strategically change their businesses. Leadership is the backbone of business transformation as organizations are facing unprecedented challenges in managing their workforce and business. Leaders must manage the obstacles arising from new hybrid work models while enhancing employee and customer experience.

Companies with traditional command and control leaders are seeing their employees leaving at a higher rate. Those leaders are more reluctant to offer flexible work models and want all employees to work fully from the office. According to IDC’s Future of Work Global Survey in April 2022, 42% of IT and Line of Business leaders still had difficulty trusting employees to accomplish work while working remotely.

Other key findings from this IDC Perspective Report are the five myths of hybrid work:

Myth #1: Hybrid is temporary. Many organizations initially assumed that because the COVID-19 pandemic was the cause of a global shift to remote work, that its remission would in turn herald a return to “normal” nine to five, five days a week in-person work models. 

Myth #2: Hybrid work decreases productivity. The big insight around productivity in the past two years has been that traditional performance indicators, such as tasks completed or time to close, only partially or inaccurately measure productivity.

Myth #3: Hybrid work will dissolve corporate culture. As months turned into years of hybrid work, many leaders feared that hybrid work arrangements and the rise in employee resignations would lead to a loss of their organization’s fundamental culture. 

Myth #4: Hybrid work makes teaming more difficult. No doubt that teaming across geographies, functions, and on-premises-remote divides is more difficult in many ways, and yet it is also easier in others.

Myth #5: Hybrid work will mean the death of the office. It is clear the repercussions of hybrid and remote work for corporate real estate have been devastating, with many organizations choosing to opt for shorter two-year versus traditional 10-year leases or opting to forgo large corporate headquarter arrangements for hybrid or smaller satellite office models.

IDC’s latest Future of Work Global Survey 2022 also uncovers that 47% of leaders in Asia/Pacific, 38% in North America, and 32% in Europe are planning to have new management models that are supportive and empathetic. The numbers are promising signs that leaders are recognizing the importance of being empathic.

In fact, leadership and how leadership shapes culture are the biggest barriers to, and the biggest enablers of, successful transformations to hybrid work. A successful hybrid work model requires leaders to have strong coordination with HR, IT, Operations, Communications, and other functions. Leaders need to develop policies and practices for the hybrid model to ensure that employees’ needs are met to keep them in tune with business goals.