Over the past couple of years, the way teams want to work has changed. In the past, most people accepted that there was a need for them to attend the physical premises during working hours to carry out their role, but this is no longer the case.
The coronavirus pandemic forced millions of employees to work from home for a prolonged period. According to a Chartered Institute of Management (CMI) survey, more than 80% of people said their firms had adopted hybrid working – most since the pandemic. If you’re eager to give your staff flexibility in how and where they work and provide new opportunities for a better work-life balance, it’s essential to consider how you can manage a hybrid team right now and well into the future.
There are benefits and challenges to weigh up. On the one hand, when hiring, you can draw from a larger talent pool, as people are no longer limited by geography. However, on the other hand, you need to manage both your in-office and remote workers effectively to get the most out of them.
Hybrid working offers an entirely flexible approach to working hours, where employees split their time between working remotely and in an office. There are many different ways this can work, so it's a matter of exploring the options and working out what works best for you and your team.
In short, yes. There are many reasons why hybrid working is here to stay. Firstly, the pandemic proved that remote working was (and still is) a viable option for businesses. With so many people now working from home, it's clear that this way of working can be successful. Additionally, with technologies like video conferencing and instant messaging, it's become more accessible and collaborative for employees to work remotely. In the past, most of us would have accepted that when it comes to the workplace, there is a need for us to attend during our working hours, and as a consequence, it’s been essential for our management teams to make this happen. However, by giving up an element of control and allowing your team members to have the flexibility and freedom to choose what days they're coming into the office and those they're working from home, you provide them with a sense of autonomy, empowerment, and engagement, meaning each individual will be more likely to give you their best!
So, it's here to stay. But what can leadership and management teams do to make hybrid working successful well into the future? When it comes to managing a hybrid team, the underlying fundamentals remain the same, but there are some new considerations to keep in mind:
1. Keep remote employees in the loop
The most crucial aspect here is communication. Excellent communication in many instances directly correlates to exceptional leadership. For the manager who's gone from managing people in an office to people in a hybrid environment, the last thing you want is your workforce at home feeling disconnected from the workplace because they haven't been into the office for a few days. This can be avoided through regular team meetings, making yourself available as often as possible, and becoming more approachable. This point boils down to being transparent and facilitating open lines of communication between remote and in-office workers.
2. Set clear expectations
Clear expectations around working hours are a must in a hybrid workplace. Many people who work remotely can sometimes feel like they need to be 'always on' and, as a result, end up working longer hours than they would if they were in an office. This can have a negative impact on their mental health and wellbeing, as well as their productivity.
3. Structure work around their availability
Be open about availability, speak to your team regularly about the hours they are available to work and try to be as flexible as possible. Not everyone will have the same hours available to them, so it's essential to take this into account when structuring work.
4. Facilitate communication and collaboration
Technology is also a great way to enable clear communication between your teams; think of Microsoft Teams, Zoom or Google Meet as your new noticeboard.
5. Celebrate successes together
In an office environment, it's easy for employees to celebrate success; however, when you're working in a hybrid environment, it's slightly different. Socialising and building relationships with co-workers is essential when nurturing a strong team. Use success stories and big wins as an excuse to get together (in-person) and celebrate meaningful moments and major milestones.
We offer a range of corporate training solutions that may help with your shift to hybrid working, including topics based on coaching skills and looking after your workforce. If you're interested, please contact our friendly team today.