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March 2020 hit like a ton of bricks. As offices everywhere shut their doors, and employees started plugging in to their morning meetings while sitting on the couch in PJs, thousands of IT experts scrambled to install tools that would enable a new Work from Home reality without sacrificing productivity, privacy, or people.
The truth is managers and their staff succeeded famously in transitioning and even learned innovative new processes to collaborate effectively without ever leaving the comfort (and safety) of their home.
Sadly, that success was short lived, as this trend has been replaced by a new jumbled mess of hotelling workspaces, in person as well as remote meetings all being conducted simultaneously. With this come challenges related to motivating a team that you may only see in person once or twice a month.
Here are some essential ways you can adapt, change and SUCCEED in this Hybrid Reality.
Clarify the rules and develop winning daily habits
Offering hybrid work options to new employees has not only become common place but is now an indispensable tool for talent attraction. This means, that all Managers will need to learn to adapt to the employee’s needs.
Understand that members of your team could fit into any of three categories.
On-Site employees: These are the employees who routinely work from the office, and who you may see the most of in person, on any give day.
Remote workers: These are the employees who work remotely. They may have the freedom to make their own hours around their own respective schedules, or they might be required to be available between normal work hours. What’s important to retain is that, as Leaders, we might not see these employees hanging around the water cooler or filling in a white board in the conference room.
Hybrid teams: These are those employees who require flexibility, but still have certain days where they are required (or choose) to come into the office. This could be due to the nature of their job, corporate etiquette or to facilitate collaboration on specific projects.
You’re a great Leader.
You know how to get the most out of your people.
But do they know the rules?
- Clarify the schedule: When can they work from home, when will they be required to be at the office and explain why.
- Clarify your expectations: Make time to communicate these expectations to each team member individually, as not everyone will face the same challenges.
- Clarify the process: Check-in, Monitor Progress, Check-out.
Emphasize inclusion to conduct great hybrid meetings.
If organisations really do want to be inclusive of the best talent available, then there may come a day where in person meetings are just not possible. As Leaders, it has now become imperative that we learn to be as effective with our on-site team members, as those who are working remotely, possibly in a different time zone.
Being equitable in our management style, may require tearing down long held beliefs regarding presenteeism and its impact on productivity.
Here are some quick tips to even the playing field for your team:
- Put everyone in virtual meetings
Whether your team is working from home or sitting in the cubicle next to you. There is an equalizing effect when everyone’s face show’s up on the screen.
- Make room for interruptions
Working from home brings a whole other host of interruptions that may impact productivity in your day, but let’s not forget the long-drawn-out conversations employees have about their weekends while standing around the water cooler. Understanding that results matter more than the clock will help even out the playing field for the various realities your team is facing.
- Change the conversation
To ensure that remote employees don’t feel excluded, it is essential to address unconscious bias related to the productivity of team members “who get to sit around all day in the underwear.” No two employees experience the same reality at home, and each reality comes with its own set of challenges and opportunities. Look to curb negative chatter in the office and reinforce the messaging in virtual meetings.
Equip your team with the tools they need to succeed
This one may seem like a no brainer, but in our trainings, we see all kinds of remote work set-ups, and very few of them are set up to produce optimal performance.
So what are some low cost solutions that will ensure productivity of hybrid teams?
Take the time to learn the software that your organization is using to up your game. This might mean spending time getting acquainted with the interface but should also include training on an efficient method of leveraging the little know functionality of the tools. Teams has an amazing ability to keep track of an almost unlimited number of chats, side chats and breakout rooms, but users quickly get bogged down with too many alerts, alarms, and requests to be efficient.
If you’ve been working off a desktop provided by your employer and updated regularly by an in-house IT department for the past 10 years, then you might be at a disadvantage in regard to peak remote work performance.
To succeed, ensure you have performing laptop computer that is enabled with security software that allows you to seamlessly access pertinent company info on demand.
Ever try loading Office 365 on a laptop for 2003? Then how would you expect your company’s ERP to run on your iPad?
Ambiance/ Dedicated space
Everyone thinks it soooooooo glamorous to be working from home. As if a lack of in-person human contact has no effect on their mental well being.
Manage the tool that isolation can take on your mental health by setting up a home office.
Maybe you have a spare bedroom that can double as a home office, maybe you don’t. The location is not as important as what it means to you. This is where you will work. The same way as your desk at work became familiar to you, this set-up needs to inspire you to work. What’s more, by dedicating a specific area to work, it is easier to distinguish the work/life separation needed to maintain mental health.
As Leaders, what works for us might not be what’s best for our team. Make sure to check in with them regularly. Learn to spot signs of disengagement and catch it before it causes bigger problems. The only constant in life is change, and we are here to help you manage that change.