Hybrid workplaces are one of the most important and potentially longest-lasting work developments to come out of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the fancy name, hybrid workplaces are something workers have been pushing for over the past decade, as computers have made working at home a legitimate possibility. The term “hybrid workplace” simply means finding the balance among your staff when some of them work at home and others, in the office.
To be sure, managing this is a delicate balancing act. If letting staff work from home fixed all a company’s issues, some wouldn’t be itching to get back into the office. Yes, going to the office has clear downsides: time and money lost on commute, being away from your family, and even more basic things like having to look presentable. However, the office can help form an extended social network and bonds, bring varied social interaction, and can actually better demarcate working hours.
Due to its complexity, hybridizing your company workplace takes guidance and thought. At MightyCall, we’ve managed this transition particularly well. These takeaways from how we smoothly turned to a hybrid workplace will ensure increased employee satisfaction without decreased production are applicable to nearly every business.
Here are 4 tips to follow so your employees can have their cake and eat it too.
Maybe the biggest roadblock in employers letting employees work from home in the past was a lack of trust. With a period of remote work to stand as a baseline, we can now put that issue behind us.
While some research is still being done, most research, such as this far-reaching Australian study, definitively shows that worker productivity in white-collar jobs did not decrease as a result of going remote.
That means bosses don’t have to worry about not being able to keep tabs on their workers—the workers’ results should speak for themselves.
However, to help avoid any drop in productivity, communication is key. A well-run team should actually see more collaboration when some workers are remote, to make sure nothing gets lost in translation.
The easiest part of that is for bosses to set clear expectations of what they reasonably expect from each staff member, on daily, weekly, or monthly bases (depending on your industry). This goes both ways, as employees should also clearly communicate their own expectations for what is feasible for them to accomplish and how they expect their bosses to support them.
This give and take process, when combined with a transparent workflow, will ensure hybrid workplaces don’t die before they can sustain themselves.
More than anything else however, remember that all of your colleagues are people going through things. The less you see staff as commodities and the more you see them as fully realized people with lives outside of work, the more likely it is that everyone is going to have a positive working experience.
Identify Issues Early and Tackle Them
Don’t assume things will ever go according to plan. A big part of any manager’s job is to predict exactly what kind of issues might arise so when they inevitably do, the work is not sidetracked.
When part (or all) of your team is remote, that means more opportunities for problems, with less control since you are not physically there. Technical issues will become more prevalent, more unexpected family situations will occur, and allocating resources will be harder.
When lockdown rumors started circulating last March, we immediately announced that our offices would be closing indefinitely. It wasn’t total chaos however, because we spent days arranging for employees to come in and take whatever they needed (computers, displays, wires, high-level headphones, etc.).
Whenever a situation arose where a staff member needed something for work that they didn’t have, we reimbursed it. If they would need it at the office, they would need it at home too.
Likewise, make sure your office has whatever it needs to make anyone choosing to come in to work comfortable. You don’t want to be the office where people are complaining because you’re choosing to cheap out on essentials like office furniture and sanitation products.
Don’t Forget to Gather the Team
Your employees’ mental and physical well-being should be top of mind on every decision you make as a manager.
Allowing them the flexibility to work remotely, or not come into the office every day of the week, saves them sleep and the stress of commuting, while also limiting the spread of not only COVID-19, but illnesses in general.
Not coming to the office is not akin to paradise, because as many noticed during extended lockdowns, things get lonely. Having too small of a social circle can feel restrictive, even for introverts.
Work is a natural social outlet, especially if workers don’t feel stressed or beaten down by management. That’s why you need to include your entire team in various events to keep social ties strong.
The easiest way to do that is to have video meetings if possible, and check in with short 1:1 meetings as much as the schedule permits. Once big gatherings are more permitted, do your best to gather the staff to celebrate important milestones or just for company-wide brainstorming sessions. Go bowling, have a picnic—do some activity that reminds everyone that you are all on the same side and everyone wants what’s best for everyone else.
Respect Work-life Balance
Hybrid offices are exactly as the name implies: a hybrid. That means that different companies will manifest this differently, which is natural. Your job as a manager or boss is to understand the uniqueness of your staff situation and adjust accordingly.
After the pandemic, we know that the traditional working week is not the only way to do things, nor the best way. I mentioned above that you need to see your employees more as the people they are and not just for the worker they are.
If someone gets all of their work done well, you don’t have to tie them down for 40 hours. You don’t have to shovel more on their plate like they’re a robot, either.
With proper preparations, setup, and communication, no work situation should be able to endanger a company’s greater goal or bottom line. Time after time, we see that valuing a work-life balance leads to happier workers, and happier workers are more productive.
This tip is more like a cherry on top, but just like an ice cream sundae, something feels wrong without it.
If your company is hesitant to keep hybrid workplace practices past the pandemic, know that continuing the practice, especially how outlined above, will benefit everyone.
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