As we slowly open back up for business and people return to work, companies are experimenting with what remote and hybrid work looks like for their particular situations. Though these solutions can seem drastically different from company to company, there are a few strategies that we’re seeing used across industries. It's prime time for leaders to really think about and remake their office culture, too. Here are some tips on how to make a hybrid workplace model work for your company, regardless of size and location.
Train your managers for remote and hybrid work
Working remotely is new to many, but learning how to manage team members while working remotely requires some training. While micromanagement was easier to avoid in person, it’s harder to avoid in the virtual space. Bottom line is that no one thrives in a workplace where they’re being micromanaged. Time tracking, in general, is fine, but the minute you start using Slack every hour to ask about project statuses, you have a problem. To quell anxieties, managers should take courses on how best to manage teams. These courses will help team leaders know how to treat all employees fairly, figure out how to best monitor performance, and give props to team members, whether they work in person or not. Managers will find better ways to keep track of workload while reducing micromanagement. Another outcome? Teams might want to divide up into smaller groups in order to create a better management system, bringing in more opportunities for new people to lead. Overall, working relationships will improve as a result of increased time management skills and a better understanding of one another. The end result? More compassion and celebration of one another within your workplace culture.
Offer personal flexibility
Your key priority as an employer must be in advocating for employees—what they need individually and a knowledge of how they work best in their unique world. You’re not a mind-reader, so all you have to do is ask! For example, your creative team will probably request space away from the computer to brainstorm and think. Meanwhile, your product team will probably want a top-of-the-line collaborative workspace. Some individuals will need to care for a relative. Others are new parents trying to navigate new lives. But don't take our word for it. No two teams or team members, for that matter, are alike, but everyone knows their own personal learning style and schedule. Everyone just wants more choices and options that can work for them. Listen to what team members need and adapt, or work out a satisfying compromise, at least.
Offer location flexibility
Truth is, while some employees want to remain fully remote, other employees are looking forward to being in the office. Again, people are different and want a workplace that fits into their lives rather than being their sole dedication. If you need some people to come into the office to work physically with customers, ask employees to pick a certain number of days they’ll be willing to come in. For the rest, allow them to choose if they want to work remotely. Some companies might find it worthwhile to invest in paying for desk hoteling, allowing people to work in a focused remote workplace that’s not necessarily your headquarters. Creative teams might get a boost of energy working together in a singular space, but would rather stay remote for the majority of their time. Simply ask, listen, and work to give the people what they want! Once you start seeing what works for your employees, translate this to your hiring practices, too. If you don’t require employees to be at your particular location at all times, you could then consider expanding your talent pool to attract great employees from other parts of the world. Think of the possibilities that location flexibility affords us all!
Improve remote meeting infrastructure
In order to improve fairness across all employees, everyone needs a level playing field for work, regardless of location. We’re talking about everything from offering employees high-speed internet to ergonomic office equipment. When setting up meetings, be consistent with the meeting platform you’re using and always have an agenda attached to the invite. Clarity of what happens when is key. With remote and hybrid workplaces, there will be an unfortunate tendency to lean more on in-person communication to get work done. Refrain from doing this by saving important discussions for virtual meetings with all team members. Take notes for one another and email them. Record important meetings so everyone has a track record of what was discussed and what the team is tackling next. Figuring out your team’s best meeting infrastructure may take time, but once you figure out what works and stick with it, everyone will reap the benefits of better communication and increased fairness in the workplace.
Prioritize creativity over productivity
The bottom line is: employers need to focus on workers first, instead of productivity. The days of measuring progress based on productivity are over. Instead, take stock in the projects that employees want to work on, find out their interest levels and discuss the project goals together. You’ll show you’re invested in the employee’s interests and help them thrive in putting out their best work. When it comes to working together, find and make use of collaborative programs like Figma and Slack. Try them out as a team and see what’s most comfortable with everyone before you invest. Use these programs to foster emotional connections, too, by having chill-out creative sessions. Create space to doodle together or ask fun questions of the day or share out what everyone’s listening to. Through sharing and getting creative together, you’ll be improving workplace culture, too. The virtual space won’t seem like such a lonely place anymore.