As organizations begin to plan for employees returning to the office, they should look at their employee location strategy and consider implementing hybrid workplaces.
Technology has made it possible for employees to work from home and still be connected to the office, colleagues and customers. It is evident in recent surveys that Gen Z and Millennial employees have difficulty working from home as they place high value on social connections and high engagement at work. Older generations on the other hand have established their social network and have adapted easier to remote work.
Initially, employers were skeptical whether employees would be productive enough if working remotely. 94 percent of 800 employers surveyed by Mercer (an HR and workplace benefits consulting firm) said that productivity was the same as or higher than it was before the pandemic, even with employees working remotely.
Creating a hybrid workforce enables a flexible workforce which increases engagement may be an attractive recruitment marketing tool.
A change of mindset
The challenge with moving to the hybrid model is that it means a large-scale change which should involve re-evaluating how things get done. It also means an investment in technology to support remote workers. Technology has certainly provided the ability to accomplish work efficiently while still having a sense of connection through on-line meetings and chat tools. Other benefits of employees working remotely are cost savings related to office space and maintenance, enhancing employee satisfaction, and other environmental benefits.
Organizations will have to figure out how to maintain company culture with a hybrid workplace, but it can be done and those that do it well will certainly be able to attract, engage and retain top talent. They will need to build the technology infrastructure for employees to get their work done.
Managers will need training and resources to effectively manage their hybrid and remote teams which could include team learning, collaboration tools and other strategies to keep employees engaged, productive and connected. Existing policies and procedures will also need to be re-evaluated.
Key considerations in managing your remote team
Cleary outlined duties and expectations:
Duties, expectations, and deadlines should be clearly outlined and agreed upon by both the manager and the employee. Be careful not to “over work” employees as there are natural breaks in an office environment that will not occur when at home. Remote employees should be encouraged to take their breaks rather than sit for extended hours at a time.
Many organizations didn’t focus enough on training in 2020 and this will have to change not only to keep employees engaged and evolving with new skills but also to address any financial losses they incurred because of COVID-19. Some of the training may be technology based and one may consider improving overall communication throughout the organization. Managers need to be equipped to facilitate a positive employee experience and this includes setting clear goals and expectations, improving employee communication and engagement, ensuring their well-being, providing guidance and asking for frequent feedback.
It’s important to know your manager’s strengths and opportunity areas as they manage remote employees and regularly assess what training they need to ensure they are managing effectively.
Employees need to be able to easily communicate with each other, regardless of their location. Organizations need to build communications infrastructures so all desk and non-desk employees can connect. Consider picking up the phone rather than trying to convey everything through an email.
A key component of organizational culture is the well-being of employees. The psychological well-being of employees can deteriorate due to a number of reasons such as employee burnout, high demands, or tight deadlines. Employees need to feel physically and mentally healthy about their relationship with their colleagues, their boss, and the company in general.
Consider implementing buddy systems for support and encourage your employees to take time for self-care.
Run a productive meeting:
Very often our calendars are overloaded with meeting invites and if not planned properly, they can simply be unproductive and a waste of our limited time. Take a moment to reflect on how you run meetings and consider the following:
- Cancel unnecessary meetings if simply sharing information which could be sent in a report.
- Shorten the duration of the meeting – calendars offer increments of 30 to 60 minutes for scheduling, but they don’t need to be that long.
- Identify the purpose and goal of the meeting.
- Establish a no-meeting day of the week.
Recognize and acknowledge your remote team:
It was a very different world being able to see your team every day at the office and there may have been scheduled team lunches or anniversary celebrations where employees would meet for a special acknowledgement. Many organizations haven’t implemented new ways to reward and recognize their team since the pandemic began and may even have a budget set aside that they’d typically spend on annual employee recognition. If moving to a hybrid workforce, it’s time to re-think new ways of recognizing your remote workers.
Contact Bridge Legal and HR Solutions for practical guidance on successfully leading and managing your remote workers – (647) 794-5442 or at firstname.lastname@example.org