The pandemic certainly accelerated the change for businesses to adopt more flexible work arrangements. This giant world-wide experiment has led employers to see, if managed correctly, their employees can be just as productive working remotely as in the office. Employers have also found other benefits such as improved retention, attraction of talent and employees having more of a balanced work and home life.
With flexible and remote working being part of a ‘post-covid’ normal, many workplaces are putting in place a hybrid work model which allows their people to work both remotely and in the workplace on certain days. There are a range of these models emerging and being tested, especially in the technology industry such as Google, Facebook and Amazon. However, there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ model and each business needs to update their policies and choose a model that fits around their employees and customer needs.
Although there are many advantages to a hybrid work model, there can be many challenges for managing teams. For some employees, they may feel disconnected, missing opportunities to understand the full picture of what is happening in the office as Managers may (not realising it) communicate with the onsite employees more often. It can also be difficult for those working remotely to build those important social relationships with their team members.
Many of these challenges can be overcome if preparation and planning is done to understand what might be the best hybrid work model and hybrid work teams are managed effectively.
Managing hybrid teams
It is essential for leaders to prepare their teams to work productively together in a hybrid work model and be proactively finding ways for the team to build positive working relationships ensuring fairness and equality for all employees. How can you do this? Here are some tips to consider when managing a hybrid work team:
– Change/update policy and procedures to support a hybrid work model. This will help with consistency and fairness.
– Agree a set of principles for how the team want to communicate with each other. The remote workers need to feel like they are being included. This might be a series of virtual meetings set up at the same time each week. There are also plenty of good communication tools such as Slack and Microsoft teams for internal group chats.
– Make sure each team member, no matter if they are in the office or working remotely, receive the same amount of support from their Manager. Offer regular one-on-one catch ups with both remote and onsite workers.
– All team members need to be clear on when each team member is working. A good way to do this is by a shared work calendar. You may also like to establish key hours for when everyone seems to be in the office together, to allow for some face-to-face interaction.
– From the start, set expectations and a process so the team know who is doing what tasks and by when. You may like to implement a weekly team meeting at the start of each week or a frequency that suits the team.
– Find ways to bring the whole team together face-to-face to allow them time to build the social relationships with their team members. This can also help increase morale.
– Ensure performance is managed fairly and measured more by the output rather than strictly by the hours someone is working. Any rewards and other benefits need to have options for remote workers.
– Make sure remote workers have access to the technology and support they need to effectively perform their role remotely.
If you are hiring new employees, you need to adjust your onboarding program to make sure it provides a positive experience for employees onsite or working from home. For example, you may choose to have a mix of onsite and offsite training or a virtual meet and greet their first day so they can meet all team members. Information and documents such as procedures and policies may also need to be able to be accessed and shared digitally.
Culture in hybrid work models
Many workplaces have seen culture shifts due to new flexible working arrangements, in particular, hybrid work models. Some of these shifts have been positive and others, with the sudden shift to remote work last year, have impacted even the strongest workplace cultures.
If you are planning on making flexible working arrangements permanent, leaders will need to work on strategies to build or maintain a positive workplace culture. With the right approach, a positive culture can still thrive in a hybrid work model.
It’s important to:
– Collect and be open to receiving feedback from your employees so you can look to improve the employee experience and why someone has chosen to still work remotely.
– Be sure to have channels for open communication and ensuring all team members are up to date with latest business decisions.
– Be proactive in making sure leaders are accessible and visible and your employees feel connected and engaged with their team as well as the company purpose.
– Continue to provide individual learning and development for each of your employees and adjust these to suit the individual’s flexible working arrangements.
– Provide training to Managers on how to engage and facilitate in a hybrid work model.
– Allow for opportunities for your employees to connect socially with their team and people in other areas of the business.
Maintaining culture isn’t easy. However, putting frameworks and measures in place will keep you on track to building a positive culture now and for the future.
It’s time to accept flexible working
2020 really showed businesses the possibility of offering more flexible working arrangements, where appropriate, which previously for some businesses was never going to happen.
There are so many ways businesses can make flexible work happen and there are many benefits to it. With many now facing hybrid workforces and some employees preferring to work from home, now is the time to review remote work policies with a new approach.
Are your flexible working policies up to date? At Catie Paterson HR Business Consulting, we can help you set up new flexible working policies and strategies for effectively managing hybrid work teams. Get in touch with us today!