If the pandemic has revealed one thing, it’s that work can be done productively outside of a traditional office environment. In fact, according to a survey by Wakefield Research and ServiceNow, 87% of employees reported that their productivity had actually improved while working remotely. Further to this, according to another survey by SHRM, most people do not want to return to the office full-time; 65% would like to work remotely full-time post-pandemic, 31% would like a hybrid work situation, and only 4% want to return to the traditional full-time in-office scenario. What this data clearly shows is that hybrid work is not simply a work culture fad – it’s here to stay.
With our teams spread out across locations and time-zones, it’s more important than ever for people to feel connected and on the same page. So, how can we ensure that we’re maintaining our hybrid workforce effectively for the long-term?
Communication Is Key for Hybrid Workers
Communication will likely be one of the first things to suffer in a work environment. Client communication, as well as internal communication, can both suffer because of the different working locations and the barrage of emails that can easily get lost in the mix.
To ensure better communication, you should create detailed and shared tasks and deadlines. Sharing your individual and team goals with the entire company is one way to keep you team feeling informed and on track.
Another solution is the use of collaborative software systems, which includes video conferencing and instant messaging so your team can contact each other at any time and place. The goal is to replicate the ease of being able to go over to your co-worker’s desk and ask a simple question as closely as possible.
Also, encourage your team to pick up the phone or video call each other rather than always emailing. Emails are invaluable methods of communication, but sometimes in hybrid work environments, we underutilize verbal communication, which can often be clearer and less effort than multiple emails going back and forth.
Foster Workplace Trust Within Your Hybrid Team
In the workplace, trust is formed based on two assumptions: that others will behave honestly and with good intentions, and they will strive to deliver a high quality of work.
A number of investigations have recently discovered that a remote hybrid workforce has created a significant issue of trust among work teams. Without effortful intervention, remote work naturally provides less information on which to base trust in one’s colleagues. If you don’t see your peers at the office working the same hours as you, and especially if you’re not even regularly communicating with your team members about their work that trust is hard to establish.
A lack of visible accountability on work ethic and effort has left many people reporting feeling as though their managers and peers are not actually working hard while at home. In order to improve trust within your company (under a hybrid working model) transparency and accountability between team members must be fostered.
Schedule regular catchups where team members can update each other on the steps they’re all taking to complete their various tasks. The more conversations that are happening amongst your team, the more likely they will be to trust each other.
Focus on Employee Wellness and Mental Health
The pandemic is not over yet and the stress and uncertainty of the past years have brought employee mental health into focus. Members of your team may be struggling with challenges related to physical health, mental health, personal finances, or any number of issues. Without being able to see your employees in person, it will be harder to gauge if people are struggling emotionally.
Encourage dialogues and information surrounding mental health and provide resources for employees to access. Also, whether virtual or preferably in person, schedule social events for your team on a regular basis. The social aspect of an office is a real thing, and many people may be feeling isolated working from home. Social activities within your team will encourage the two abovementioned topics of communication and trust more effectively than almost anything else.
Managing a Hybrid Workforce Requires Real Work and Effort
Having one’s entire workforce be in the office full time is likely a thing of the past. It’s quite clear that some version of a hybrid workforce is here to stay. Managing a hybrid workforce means allowing for flexibility and a greater amount of trust in your employees. To boost productivity in this new platform, encourage communication and trust between your workers while setting clear and transparent goals that can be viewed by all. The strength of your hybrid workforce will come down to the strength in your team itself – now and for years to come.