Hybrid workplaces are here to stay. Their rise in popularity is mainly due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which kept many people working from home. Hybrid roles allow greater flexibility and give employees the opportunity to live where they would like.
As a business leader, you may assume that a hybrid environment is easier to manage. After all, you likely won’t need to pay for as much office space. However, having a hybrid team may actually require more attention.
Why’s that? Because you have employees spread out all over the world with different needs. Some may have a well-equipped home office with a secure, rock-solid Wi-Fi connection. Others might be working from their kitchen table in a city where power outages are not unheard-of. You may have to provide additional resources, as not everyone is on the same playing field when they show up for work.
But despite these drawbacks, hybrid workplaces have plenty of pros for business leaders. To ensure you’re optimizing your hybrid workforce, here are three tips you can start implementing today.
1. Set Expectations From the Start
Remote work is a huge plus for many who enjoy having more time at home and not having to commute. But it’s also a challenge for others juggling work with family and home life. And for those living alone, working from home can bring a harsh reality of isolation. Enter hybrid roles — the perfect combination of in-office and remote work.
When your company transitions to a hybrid model, be sure to set expectations for everyone from the beginning. You should explain why the company has turned to a hybrid workplace, aligning with the business’s objectives. Outline the specific goals of this new reality so employees know what is expected from them.
In order to set your expectations, you may want to establish the concept of workforce optimization. Workforce optimization, or WFO, isn’t a new term, but it does have a new meaning within hybrid work environments.
Essentially, the goal of WFO is to improve employee performance through better customer service, while also decreasing costs. It’s all about producing quality work through cost-efficient means. Introduce this concept to your employees to further explain the purpose of your hybrid work environment.
2. Prioritize Technology
Imagine this scenario. You’re under a tight deadline, working up to the last minute, and all of a sudden you can’t submit what you’re working on. There’s a technological glitch. You restart your computer and do everything in your power to fix the problem, but to no avail. We’ve all been there, and it is so frustrating.
One of the biggest improvements you can make to optimize your hybrid workforce is to invest in technology. When your employees have the tools and resources they need, their work will improve. Investing in technology can entail upgraded software and hardware, or it may involve new platforms for organization and optimization. Depending on the size of your company, you may even want to set up a tech team who can step in when glitches happen.
Adopting new technological advancements and building a tech team can be a financial burden in the beginning. However, having the right tools in place will ensure your employees — no matter where or when they are working — have the support they need. More quality work can get done in less time. Not to mention, new technology can also help grow your business and attract more customers.
3. Be Overcommunicative
One of the hardest challenges of a hybrid work environment is disconnection. The employees who regularly go to the office are often more privy to company information because they are surrounded by co-workers. Those working remotely can easily feel left out and disconnected even from minor discussions. By being more rather than less communicative, you can avoid disconnection and any feelings of isolation.
By utilizing the technology you’ve just adopted, you can easily disseminate important information. Through project management software, messaging apps, and even social media, you can communicate to all of your employees in real time. Be sure to avoid having specific “in-office” and “out-of-office” communication channels. Everyone should feel like they are included and part of the conversation no matter where they are physically located.
One practical example of being overcommunicative is posting messages in multiple channels. For example, if necessary information was reported in an all-hands meeting, make sure that same information is posted in Slack and emailed to everyone.
You can also record all companywide meetings and place the recordings in a central workspace such as Google Drive or Notion. Your employees will appreciate knowing they are part of the conversation, which will lead to a more positive work environment.
Leading a hybrid workforce takes, well, work! Fortunately, more and more companies are turning to remote work, so you can learn from others. Ask other leaders about their experience or reach out on platforms such as LinkedIn to get their opinions on certain practices.
Remember, hybrid work is a learning situation for everyone. Your employees need to adapt to working in this way, no matter whether they are going to the office or not. You’re all in this together, even if you aren’t physically together.