The business world continues to change dramatically due to the massive impact COVID-19 had on our society. Even with the release of the vaccine, there are still people who are wary of returning to the office space. Some employees would prefer to continue working from home due to being able to focus better and have more time to deal with personal matters. With the employees’ reluctance to leave behind the ability to work from home, many companies have had to adapt.
A report published by Microsoft shows us that 61% of leaders are prospering under the remote model workplace. Nevertheless, up to 40% of employees have considered leaving their employer if remote work is no longer available.
With a hybrid workforce, employees and managers experience better levels of productivity and freedom. They can work wherever they find most comfortable and at times that suit their schedule. Of course, there are some challenges involved when it comes to this type of workplace, such as communication becoming harder and people succumbing to feeling alienated and isolated. Even so, taking advantage of the hybrid workplace model has some excellent benefits for a company.
With that said, it’s going to take some time and experimentation for the company to ensure the complex workplace can become viable. Plenty of companies will find that some things may work, while others may not work as well. Managers will need to step up and ensure that everything can run smoothly. Here are several tips that can help you manage a hybrid workplace.
1. Set clear goals and expectations
One of the things that need to be done is to establish a set of clear goals and expectations among your hybrid workforce. One of the reasons why so many companies are reluctant to continue the remote policy is because they believe that employees aren't productive enough while working from home. It doesn’t help that most of the workers have to deal with their children being at home. The household itself can become a bit of a distraction, and that worries many employers.
That can raise the temptation of micromanaging a team’s schedule, but doing so could cause problems among employees. Instead, take the time to communicate with your team about the goals and deadlines of upcoming projects with clarity, especially when it comes to your home-based employees. Successful hybrid teams have agreed that concentrating on the outcomes is the best way to handle a hybrid work environment.
Depending on employees' style of working and job role, have short planning meetings as often necessary. Consider holding either a daily or weekly virtual meeting to bring your hybrid workforce together to talking about projects and share progress. For some workers, you may need to check on them each morning. To determine how to pull this off, outline the priorities for the day and agree on a reasonable time frame for completion. That should allow your employees to structure their day. Remember, communicating is essential in ensuring your hybrid team is engaged and motivated.
You may have already set up an effective check-in schedule with long-time remote employees. But do not assume that workers who aren’t remote by choice can all fall under the same pattern. Remain empathetic to your employees and make time to speak with them frequently as you both figure out the best time for your one-on-one sessions.
2. Consolidate communication and collaboration systems
Most companies these days are relying on technology to get their work done. Collaboration tools have become a common sight among many workplaces, but some places tend to overdo it with the number of tools they have on hand. That can cause confusion among employees, especially when it comes to a hybrid workplace. Without establishing a hybrid work policy, your whole workforce will be confused about what platforms and tools they need to use when it comes to collaboration.
There are plenty of tools a hybrid workplace can rely on to ensure their employees are collaborating. Slack has become an essential tool for many companies that want their employees to shoot each other quick messages. Zoom has become another vital tool for online meetings and conferences. Emails remain a cornerstone of communication when it comes to more formal and pressing matters. Plus, project management or CRM applications with built-in communications tools are also viable choices.
Best of all, most of these tools are capable of integrating. That allows your employees to have everything accessible in one place without having to switch between too many applications. If you have a tech team, have them help set this up and come up with a guideline that can help the less technical inclined employees understand how everything works. If you want to ensure that your hybrid workforce can collaborate effectively, you need to establish some policies while taking into account the different levels of software proficiency.
There are several things you can do to help manage your employees through this part. First off, take the time to train employees on your collaboration tools. You need to be clear on which types of issues require a team video call. Outline the best response time for an email or Slack message. That way, no arguments arise among employees. During the teaching process, make sure they learn how to update their availability status so everyone can know they are currently busy handling something else to message back. If someone on the team has slow internet set up, schedule a meeting time for them with an IT rep to help them speed up their network.
3. Change performance assessments
Workplaces tend to focus more on how long employees spend working instead of the results they achieve. That can be counterproductive for a hybrid workplace since assessing the other half that working at home will be more challenging when clocked in. In reality, this type of metric causes people to look busy instead of spending time reaching their goals. Recent research has shown that 89% of employees are wasting their time at work every day.
To manage your hybrid workplace, you should focus on the results people are achieving. If you notice some lapses from your employees, check on them and see what is causing these lapses. Perhaps one of the tools chosen by your company to help in collaborative work isn't working well enough for the team members, or it could be a miscommunication error. Either way, measuring their performance will be a better way of keeping track of your employees in the long run.
4. Asynchronous work
Asynchronous work became quite popular during the remote working environment. It requires the intentional structure of project operations and processes to give workers more agency in establishing their own schedules. That means team managers need to define what needs to occur in person as a team and how often teams need to meet up. Managers also need to set up tasks where individuals can default to action, which means that everyone is always aware of what they need to work on to ensure progress is made.
By granting employees control over their workday, you’ll achieve better results in the planning process for the organization. Some companies have found this to be a highly beneficial boon when adopting asynchronous work as part of their business strategy.
5. Team engagement and exercises
A hybrid approach means you will have half of your team working from outside of the company, typically at home or a location, they are comfortable in. While that is beneficial to them, it can lead to remote employees feeling alienated and isolated regularly. That can cause your company issues if not addressed immediately. They will start to feel disconnected from the rest of their team members and fail to form bonds with them. Furthermore, fully remote workers may feel that their office-based workers don’t take them seriously enough.
Managers need to take the time to establish ways they can foster engagement and communication among their employees. For example, they could set up a time where people take coffee breaks and hop onto a video call with someone on the team. That way, they can spend a few minutes chatting while enjoying a nice cup of coffee and eating snacks. Or, you could set up team exercises for them to do together. Virtual escape rooms have become especially popular for helping teams improve their collaboration while remaining engaged.
6. Employee wellness and mental health
These days, people are dealing with heavy amounts of stress and uncertainty. It doesn't help that the pandemic has not gone away, leading to constant feelings of weariness to fill up people's days. That has caused many companies to focus their efforts on improving employee wellness and mental health. Your employees could be dealing with many challenges in their life, such as health or finances. The remote employees that live also are having a hard time dealing with their social isolation as well.
For that reason, your organization should consider introducing a wellness program. These programs will allow employees to start improving their daily lives one step at a time. You could also offer an employee assistance program. These programs provide your workers with confidential counseling services. They can access these programs whenever they are having a difficult time dealing with personal issues, such as substance abuse, domestic violence, and mental health issues.
Investing in the mental and physical welling being of your employees leads to the best possible results for your organization.
7. Level the playing field
If your company has not established a career paths program to help employees progress through the organization, it’s time to do something about that. However, when it comes to advancement opportunities, your on-site employees have a far better chance of being promoted than your remote employees. That is especially true if the manager also works in the office space with them.
Managers have a much easier time seeing how hard their on-site employees are working since they have face-to-face interactions with them. On-site employees tend to have a higher chance of being picked for projects more so than remote employees. Managers can also leverage insider information acquired from the informal conversation that happens outside of virtual meetings.
It’s crucial to become proactive in mitigating these issues. If not, it could cause your organization to lose the remote side of your hybrid workforce. It doesn’t take long for remote employees to become resentful of their leaders if they start showing favoritism to their on-site employees, even if it’s not intentional.
Even so, the responsibility of leveling the playing field falls on all involved parties. You need to start creating an equitable process for assigning projects and qualifying for promotions. Prompt your employees to document their achievements and request for projects. If they want to progress in their career path, they need to take the initiative as well.
Hybrid workplaces are starting to become the future for many companies out there. It gives the balance of allowing employees to work both on-site and offsite during specific days. While it will vary from company to company, hybrid work environments have become a requirement in today’s world. Without offering an option that allows employees to work offsite, they are more likely to leave and join another company that offers them such an opportunity. Use the tips we’ve provided about managing your hybrid workplace. To help maintain these efforts, check out our tool today.