Hybrid Workplaces Present Unique Challenges
New issues are emerging as businesses begin to bring some people back to the office after they have been working remote for months: Who should be called back to the office and what will that look like? How can a hybrid team — part remote, part onsite — be managed equitably?
Establish Hybrid Teams
There are many good reasons for organizing hybrid teams. Social distancing requirements mean that only a percentage of employees can be on premises at the same time. In addition, some people feel too vulnerable to Covid-19 to want to be in an office environment, while others are balancing their work lives with children in hybrid school schedules or caring for sick or elderly family members. These and myriad other reasons add to the dilemma for company leaders. They must manage to treat everyone the same way.
Provide Clear Guidelines
Remote workers often feel "less" valuable than co-workers who can have face-to-face time with managers. This is a hard obstacle to overcome without having clear guidelines in place. Consider the following:
- Have and communicate a clear plan for who will be asked to come back to the office and who will continue to work remotely. What criteria are firm leaders using in their decision-making? What will that look like in terms of scheduling? Will employees have the option of choosing one or the other?
- Everyone on the team should be included in team meetings, whether or not they are working remotely. Virtual team meetings allow everyone to "see" and interact with each other. Managers need to be careful to give equal time to remote and in-office employees. Managers must take note of who participates in these meetings and who might need extra support.
- Procedures should be in place for when emails should be answered "reply all" and when it is okay to have a direct conversation with a co-worker. Reply-all responses can be annoying, but they also can be indicative of inclusiveness. Managers need to be aware of this and be transparent about when each is appropriate.
- Procedures should be in place for when meetings are recorded. At times, it is helpful to be able to go back and hear something again, but other times, being off the record is important. Managers need to be aware of any laws or regulations regarding privacy to ensure that they do not inadvertently violate them,
- Managers should have regularly scheduled one-on-one meetings with remote workers. These meetings should be informal enough for the employee to be comfortable sharing concerns. The manager should be alert to signs of stress and burnout, including feelings that the employee is not being treated the same way as people in the office.
- Schedule some fun activities that include the entire workforce. It is difficult to create virtual events that are fun, but it is important to try. Think about the things the company did before Covid-19 to encourage a collaborative workplace and try to recreate them virtually.
Navigate the Way Forward
As businesses navigate how they will move forward, it is important to keep in mind that this is a learning experience for everyone. Some things will work better than others and company leaders need to be flexible enough to expect that change is part of the new work world. Nevertheless, the ultimate goal is to have the entire workforce feel they have an equal chance to be heard, they are valued and can advance in their careers.
Contact us today to learn more about how Greenlink's employee engagement and self-service tools can help you manage a hybrid workforce.
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