It goes without saying that the pandemic has created the greatest workplace transformation of our lifetime, quickly changing the way teams work..... possibly forever.
Businesses have had to quickly adapt to working remotely. It's been crazy, stressful and a little bit scary for most but on the whole, it’s likely that you and your team did an amazing job; quickly adjusting to working from home with surprisingly positive results. This is now the next step in the transition.
You could go back to working in the office like you did pre-covid.. or maybe that isn't how you want things to be.
You’re probably reading this because your business is considering, or has decided, to maintain that element of increased flexibility, by giving your employees the choice to continue working from home, in the office, or a mixture of both therefore creating a hybrid workforce. The benefits of a hybrid workforce can be huge. But, of course, it can also have downsides that you need to both be aware of and manage. That’s what we will focus on in this blog.
We will explore five of the most important things to consider and get right:
Create a hybrid working policy
With any sort of change in the business, there are always lots of unanswered questions. This can easily lead to confusion or conflict with your team, which no one wants and can be avoided by putting in place a clear policy. You really need to think about all possible scenarios and create a formal hybrid working policy that becomes the new working blueprint for your business.
Think about how you’ll manage requests for flexible working; how you’ll ensure the office is manned if it needs to be; how many hours a week or month each employee will need to spend in the office. if any, and how this will be communicated back to you. You still need to know what’s going on and where your team will be so ways of working with this will be needed.
All of this, plus more, will need to be considered before you go ahead with a new policy so that everyone will know where they stand. This is all about setting expectations to help protect you, your company, your relationship with your employees and your employee happiness.
Make sure you treat employees fairly
With many of us already experiencing some form of remote working you may have noticed how easy it can be to assume everything’s going well, when behind the scenes someone isn’t happy. First and foremost, you must ensure that everyone in your business knows that, just as it would be in the office, communication channels to you and/or line managers remain always open.
Make sure your team know how they should voice concerns or complaints, where to go to ask questions and who to speak to should they have any problems. Communication is so important. When your team are frequently working remotely, it can make it more difficult to have a tricky conversation or speak to the right person when something isn’t as it should be. By outlining clear instructions you make it easier for them. As you will know, some employees are quieter than others by nature, make the time to check in on them directly just to be sure.
Make it clear to everyone that, although they may be working away from the office, they are still very much in your mind. They will be considered for all of the usual things, such as projects, promotions, or additional roles as they would normally be.
Rethink how you manage performance
If you’re not seeing all of your team every day, it can make performance review and management a little more difficult. However, when working from home became the norm last year, technology stepped up its game and gave us the tools needed to help us stay connected and collaborating.
If you haven’t got software in place to help manage your team’s performance and activity currently, there are lots of tools out there to help you. Instead of measuring ‘time’ spent in the office, you may want to reconsider the metrics you’re using to measure employee performance.
You may want to track the following instead:
1. Business outcomes
2. Employee behaviours
3. Important activities
By tracking these metrics instead, it’s less about monitoring conformance to the 9 till 5 and more about measuring performance. This is both the essence and benefit of hybrid working.
Don't forget to make sure that any line managers you have know exactly what the measures of success are you’re looking for and what success looks like to you. This could be anything from attracting new clients, to ensuring that everyone is taking regular breaks and clocking off when they should.
Look for the right apps and/or software to help you measure performance easily and accurately. Good HR software may be a good solution to keep everything in one place.
Focus on team happiness
Just because people are working away from the office, don’t forget to do the things you would do if they were in the office. It’s not ‘out of sight, out of mind’.......Check in with your team regularly.
It’s worth remembering that, while some people flourish when working on their own, others get on better when they have more contact with colleagues. It can be very easy to start feeling isolated when working from home.
While most people can recognise which environments make them happiest, sometimes it might be down to you to identify an issue. Speaking with everyone regularly can help you to do that.
Schedule team meetings via Teams or Zoom at the start or end of each day, and remember to maintain 1-2-1 meetings too. It’s not always easy to see what’s going on with individuals when there are lots of people involved in a conversation.
Keep up the momentum when it comes to training and development - it’s really important that everyone still has targets and goals and that they are able to keep working towards these, as well as progress their career.
If you have any wellness or mental health initiatives in place, keep going with those. The same goes for team-building. In fact, these things will carry even more importance with a dispersed team. It gives them a chance to bond and can keep everyone feeling more motivated.
Along those same lines, it is really important to ensure that people are taking breaks and making the appropriate time for lunch while they’re working remotely. Contrary to popular belief, people who work from home actually end up putting in more hours than they would in the office and find it harder to switch off from work when it’s time to shut down.
Make sure you’re tech-ready
While we’re not unfamiliar with a working from home set up these days, it is important that everyone is using the right equipment and tools to get the job done efficiently and safely. Check your IT infrastructure is up to the job of handling people who are switching from remote to office working regularly. This will include VPN access and good cyber security measures which are now required more than ever.
Re-assess the tools you’re using to stay in touch and collaborate on projects. Could things be made easier? If you were using a makeshift solution, now is the time to invest in something long-term.
Look for tools that will allow your team to easily stay in touch by email, message, video calls, etc., to share and edit files and to work together a lot more easily. There are lots of solutions out there and your internal IT department or IT provider will be able to recommend the most suitable one for you.
There’s a lot to consider when it comes to creating a permanent hybrid team; however, if you follow the correct steps and take the time to plan the change correctly, it could be a great way to get the most from your team.
If you would like any further advice or guidance on creating your own hybrid team, or the policies that should accompany it, we’d love to help. Arrange a short exploratory call here: https://calendly.com/blackkat-hr/20-minute-exploration-call