Press release:

UK's first hybrid management pilot finds bosses aren't confident in managing their teams in the evolving world of hybrid and flexible work

Monday 01 July 2024

London - A new and first-of-its-kind UK pilot designed to teach managers how to navigate the evolving world of hybrid and flexible work has found that bosses lack confidence in motivating their teams, running meetings, and managing conflict remotely.

The two-month pilot programme led by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) and Timewise comes as new legislation, the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act, gives employees the legal right to request flexible working from their first day in a new job, starting from 6 April 2024.

A virtual meeting

The hybrid trial—conducted from September to October 2023—brought together leaders from 30 organisations in a wide range of sectors, from health and social work to construction, manufacturing, and law enforcement. Structured as a series of immersive workshops, Timewise offered ongoing training and support for participants on effective management, building a hybrid team, and communicating with and motivating teams.

While CMI research found that 86% of managers say their organisation operates in a hybrid way, research from the University of Birmingham found that only 43% of managers have training to manage hybrid teams. Following the pilot, CMI evaluated its impact and found a significant difference in skills before and after the pilot.

  • Resolving conflict and having difficult conversations online (46% confident prior to the pilot, 86% after the pilot).
  • Keeping their teams motivated (43% confident prior, 89% after the pilot).
  • Balancing work and home-life commitments (43% confident prior, 82% after the pilot).
  • Managing underperformance (36% confident prior, 79% after the pilot).
  • Building connection and cohesion among hybrid teams (43% confident prior, 93% after the pilot)
  • Understanding the biases that can emerge in hybrid working and how to mitigate them (32% confident prior, 96% after the pilot).

Participants in traditionally non-hybrid sectors also shared their experience of the pilot:

Rail services manager embraces hybrid work model for maintenance team
Zaki Mohamed, an assistant regional operational manager at Colas Rail UK, oversees a team of 60 people maintaining crucial railway infrastructure. Initially sceptical, Mohamed adapted to a hybrid work model post-Covid, rotating his team to balance admin days at home with on-site construction. He brought in virtual huddles and one-on-one interactions to maintain cohesion and productivity across distributed worksites. Energised by the pilot, Mohamed now navigates the balance between on-site coordination and remote work, recognising the value of flexibility and ongoing learning in keeping the team on track.

A healthcare leader uses hybrid to manage tension in her team
Petra Smith found herself unexpectedly leading a team of health and safety professionals amidst a transition to hybrid work. Struggling with communication and structure, she enrolled in Timewise/CMI pilot, fostering open dialogue and setting clear expectations. With monthly meetings, regular field visits, and team meals, Petra cultivated a collaborative environment, leading to happier, more transparent teamwork and her own growth as a leader.

Amy Butterworth, Consultancy Director at Timewise, said:

Flexible working has mainstreamed – but for many, the experience still feels a little rough around the edges. During the pandemic-response years of 2020 and 2021 everyone adapted at pace, learning however they could. As a result, a myriad of ways to work in a hybrid way took root – not all of them good. Our programme combined Timewise’s specialist flexible working knowledge, with CMI’s deep expertise in supporting managers, and has evidenced that investing in specific hybrid management skills and capability benefits the managers themselves, their teams and their organisations.

Business leaders need to understand that managers are designing and embedding flexible cultures without even realising it. Cultures that may set the tone for the next 20 years or more. The path ahead can look chaotic, or it can be planned out strategically and made fair for everyone. Fundamentally it is important to realise that managing hybrid teams is a core business discipline for the twenty-first century, with a skill-set that has to be learnt.

Anthony Painter, Director of Policy and External Affairs at the CMI, said:

Hybrid working enabled people to continue to work amid an unprecedented crisis. They responded with whole-hearted effort when employers needed them. Four years on from the start of lockdown, hybrid working has become the standard for many organisations.

This pilot programme tells us that managers - if given the right tools - will play a crucial role in ensuring the long-term viability of hybrid working, including realising the benefits of improved work-life balance and the impact that offer has on employee recruitment and retention.

It's time to move away from ad hoc approaches and adopt a proactive stance, equipping managers with the tools they need to succeed in navigating the complexities of hybrid work environments.

As workplace policies evolve to align with new realities, such as the introduction of day-one flexible working, it is crucial that employers and policymakers invest in management training to facilitate these changes and ensure their success.

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Notes to Editors

The University of Birmingham research is available here:


About the Chartered Management Institute (CMI)

The Chartered Management Institute is the professional body for managers and leaders. We have a membership community of over 200,000 aspiring and practising managers and more than 150,000 people are currently studying on one of our management and leadership programmes. Our Royal Charter defines our charitable mission as increasing the number and standard of professionally qualified managers and leaders.

About Timewise

Timewise is an award-winning social business, which has been leading innovation on flexible and inclusive working practices since 2005. Its team of highly experienced, passionate professionals have held senior roles across the private and public sectors and are driven by the vision of fairer working futures. Timewise provides consultancy to organisations of all sizes and industries, with particular expertise in large and complex workforces.