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How to effectively manage a hybrid workforce

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Thanks to the quick acceleration of the ‘work from home’ trend brought on by the COVID-19 quarantine, the way people prefer to work has changed. Unlike before the pandemic, the new hybrid model creates an elevated coexistence of physical and digital workspaces.

According to a survey from Microsoft, 73% of employees want hybrid options to stay post-pandemic, while 67% crave more in-person collaboration. Given this demand, 66% of business leaders are considering redesigning their office space to better suit a hybrid model.

Given the demand for such an opportunity, why are nearly 44% of business leaders not considering adopting a hybrid work model fully? For most, it’s because the successful integration of this model is easier said than done. This coexistence requires new technologies, cloud-based infrastructures, and a more significant company-wide commitment to communication.

Hybrid work opportunity: a necessary challenge

Hybrid work opportunities are not new, so why is it so challenging for many companies? The short answer is because it requires a more significant effort from company management.

Leaders need to approach the management of hybrid employees with trust, empowerment, and vulnerability in this new method of working. Enabling employee-leader relationships centered around trust and accountability is critical to success when managing remote employees.

The second biggest inhibiter to adopting a hybrid work environment is technology. Such as cloud-based systems and video-conferencing platforms, these technologies allow employees to work from wherever, whenever seamlessly. Although highly efficient, effective, and easy to master, these platforms take some getting used to.

How to create a flexible work environment

Similar to adopting any new model, there will be a level of experimentation and innovation needed to find the right balance for your organization. Your company’s culture, rhythm of business, and aversion to change will all play significant parts in determining the difficulty of adapting a hybrid model.

With that understanding, here are some of the most effective implementation and management methods for a hybrid workforce:

Ditch “hours worked” for objectives and deadlines.

Is the traditional ‘9-5’ and 40+ hour work week the best structure for your workforce? New evidence suggests the answer is likely, no.

Evidence states that the average office employee is only productive for about less than 3 hours a day! Because of this, many hybrid-enabled companies are benefitting from turning away from using ‘hours worked’ as a productivity metric and prioritizing a results-oriented accountability program.

Assessing employees’ productivity based on their results through milestones and deadlines creates a process that encourages communication and trust. Additionally, a results-based work environment, rather than hours worked, has been shown to benefit employees’ mental health while also delivering superior work.

Establish trust and effective communication 

As discussed earlier, establishing trust and communication is essential to a hybrid work model. Between the experimental nature of a hybrid model and the fact that micro-managing is supremely ineffective, managers need to trust their employees’ abilities to self-govern.

Rather than using a “let me know if you need anything” approach to leadership, managers should focus on proactive communication. Establishing mutual trust between employees and management centered around proactive communication can become one of your organization’s greatest tools.

Encourage community

Enabling employees to work outside of the office doesn’t mean that there can’t be a strong community. Instead, hybrid opportunities have been shown to help foster a community-focused culture.

Rather than host a happy hour in the office kitchen after work or something equally as timid, having a partially remote workforce enables new types of opportunities and incentives for establishing a community (we talk more about this here).

Technology

On the physical side of this methodology, organizations can expect a necessity to adopt greater telecommunication technologies (such as Slack, Zoom, or Teams) and cloud-based file-sharing platforms (OneDrive or Google Drive).

Having a process of communication is equally as necessary as having the technology to enable it. Employers need to establish appropriate systems for different types of conversations; essentially, employees shouldn’t have to wonder “how” to communicate best. Where should an employee go for a customer complaint? What about a payroll question? The answers to these questions should be well known across your workforce.

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