Michelle Sheridan, Talent Development Manager at Urbint
As a versatile project manager and HR content writer, Michelle develops successful organizational development programs and shares insights with the world at large to facilitate healthy workplace cultures of diversity, inclusivity, and advancement. She has written about manager development, remote work, project & time management, employee well-being, and other relevant topics to help people excel in the modern workplace.
Pub: December 2 2020
. Upd: October 18 2021
We’re currently experiencing significant shifts in how we work. Advanced technology has opened the floodgates for more remote work, leading to remote and hybrid teams that are still trying to work within the same guidelines as they were for in-person workplaces.
As we move away from the typical Monday through Friday, 9-5 schedule, organizations must plan to establish remote and hybrid workplaces and strategize on boosting productivity in these new work ways.
What is a Hybrid Working Environment?
Recent studies have dispelled the idea that remote work leads to less productivity. A study by Boston Consulting Group of over 12,000 employees reveals that, generally speaking, employees feel their productivity has stayed the same or even increased since they’ve been able to work from home.
But while employees might find it just as easy to do their day to day work, remote work brings other challenges. Teams report more difficulty maintaining work-life balance; they find fewer opportunities for collaboration and generally feel less connected to their colleagues. Getting your own projects done might be easier, but it’s challenging to engage with colleagues, interact with clients, and brainstorm in collaborative meetings. All of these things lead to a diminished sense of productivity and engagement.
Many companies are beginning to promote the balance of a hybrid work model - a system that allows both in-person and remote work. The hybrid work model is increasingly being thought of as the new future of work. It promotes flexibility and collaboration by mixing in-person and remote settings for work, based on both business and individual needs.
While employees might value the ability to work from home, hybrid offices mean that some people might miss out on the office’s impromptu discussions, while others might find it more challenging to have to commute in every day. If you’re a manager of a distributed team, it might be difficult to stay on top of communication and projects. So how can we maximize productivity while promoting a hybrid work office?
Hybrid work offices require planning and communication among the many different departments and teams in an organization. Consider the following aspects when boosting productivity within your organization:
1. Clear Communication and Expectations:
Step number one to boost productivity on a hybrid model? Communicate! Clear communication is the foundation of a successful hybrid workplace. Teams need clarity around roles and responsibilities, which will lessen confusion down the line and streamline project management. Managers should help their teams determine schedules based on team and individual priorities, including thinking about which teams or employees would benefit the most from in-person and collaborative work.
You might also want to set up communication norms, including scheduling check-ins and 1-on-1s to catch up with your hybrid team and see how things are going. This is a great way to check in on project statuses, see if your team needs extra support, and continue the development conversations to ensure that engagement is high.
Transparent goal setting can also help improve communication in a hybrid workspace. OKRs allow employees to have oversight over the team and individual goals, opening new channels of clarity and collaboration. Team members can address their questions and concerns to the correct channels, minimizing back and forth email exchanges that clog up their inboxes.
2. Utilize Technology
Technology is the lifeblood of any hybrid organization. It strengthens communication, promotes asynchronous knowledge sharing, and supports managers and their teams in staying on top of initiatives. It can also prevent siloes in the workplace. Since teams have constant access to each other, from a communication standpoint, it helps minimize the gap between remote workers and workers who are in the office.
A performance management platform, such as Hirebook, offers numerous integrations to help you stay connected across all communication platforms. Hirebook’s integrations with Slack, Gmail, and Outlook mean that you can easily share information to minimize miscommunication and confusion across your hybrid team.
3. Share Important Files & Information
One thing that can be super disruptive when working from home is not having access to the files you need to do your work. As stated above, technology is the core of hybrid work, so take advantage of it and use it, and ask your employees to do so as well.
It’s important to establish guidelines for everyone to follow and to avoid security breaches that could affect the company. Everyone needs to be careful when handling sensitive information, especially while in a hybrid work model, because information moves more than when working just in one place.
4. Lead with Culture
We know the importance of company culture and how to apply it in the office… but what happens when we move to a hybrid working environment? Adapt it to a hybrid culture!
Every company’s culture is unique, but it ultimately reflects a company’s core values, so managers must focus on that essence to keep their teams engaged and aligned even when not everyone’s in the same building.
Organizational culture boosts engagement and productivity, so managers need to lead by example and remind employees of how their culture can help them embrace the hybrid workplace. The main goal here is to have everyone working together to achieve the same objectives and make the hybrid work a positive experience for everyone.
5. Supporting Mental Health & Inclusion
Every person’s remote work experience is unique, with different positive and negative aspects. Some remote workers might have their own home offices, while others might be dealing with a spouse working from home, children attending school remotely, or other challenging situations. Supporting your team’s mental well-being is a critical endeavor - managers should make it clear to their teams that they are available to provide space and support.
Hirebook’s check-in feature makes it easy for managers to really see how their teams are doing. When completing a check-in, the first question is always, “How are you doing today?” Employees can select a rating between one to five stars to indicate how their mental state is at work. Managers can utilize this vital information to analyze team morale and brainstorm on ways to improve it. Managers can also better understand how to support their teams with any blockers that may arise, another issue that might be more difficult to solve in a hybrid workplace. This open communication is crucial to supporting mental health and promoting an inclusive working environment.
While some team members might be ready to return to the office and Friday afternoon happy hours, it's important to include the team members who are not present and create socially engaging activities for all team members. This might consist of hosting team coffee breaks throughout the day or using software to match people up for one-on-one social meetings. Make time for fun for remote and in-person teams so that they feel included.
Remote and hybrid workplaces present new challenges for equity and inclusion, which are two important factors in employee satisfaction and engagement. Make sure that you’re providing your team with good positive feedback, which can help build trust and engagement even when you’re not in the same space.
6. Don’t Be Afraid to Make Adjustments
At the end of the day, every workplace culture has its own nuances and challenges to respond to. When reviewing what you’ll need to make your hybrid working environment a success, encourage a growth mindset among employees and managers to consistently analyze what is working and what can be improved.
Remember that this is a time where you can still build and improve upon your culture, and incorporate it into this hybrid workspace. Whether a hybrid model is just your current reality or a long term commitment, proper planning and communication will go a long way towards ensuring a successful and productive hybrid working environment.
Partner with Hirebook to stay on top of all of your team’s performance needs, especially if you’re in a remote or hybrid workplace. Hirebook helps managers stay on top of check-ins and one-on-ones to solve problems before they start and to help foster development conversations. Its OKR feature is perfect for teams who need more transparency and alignment on goals and projects.
Photo credit - master1305