The Key to Managing a Hybrid Workforce

Mar 01 2023 | Insights

Over the last few years, it has been increasingly normal for teams to avoid the dreaded morning commute and work remotely.But it’s not often you’ll find that everyone prefers the remote working style. Plus, many companies are still seeing the value of regular office days where the team can spend quality time with one another.

So, what’s the compromise? Hybrid working.

Hybrid can involve individuals splitting their working days between remote locations and the office. It can also involve some team members being fully remote while others remain primarily in office.

Whatever the makeup of your company, managing hybrid teams means taking multiple factors into consideration with every decision and communication.

Simply put, the key to managing a hybrid workforce is leaning into, rather than ignoring, the realities of hybrid work. If you continue to manage your team as if it is fully in office, or fully remote, then you’ll likely find it organized ineffectively!

Working with the team and the circumstances you have is the key to success.

But what exactly does this mean? And how can you best manage a hybrid workforce? Well, these are our tips for successfully managing in a hybrid environment.

Communicate honestly with your team

One tenet that is absolutely key to hybrid work is trust.

When it comes to managing a hybrid team, as a manager, you have to place your trust in your colleagues that they will continue to work consistently and effectively in their home environment, or independently to the larger team.

Investing in this trust can be difficult. If you’ve been a manager for a long while, and remember a time before hybrid work, it may be hard to immediately get over the preconception that working from home means lower productivity.

However, 53% of remote workers reported that they felt less distracted at home than in the office, with 52% reporting that they were quicker to complete tasks. A combination of remote work and in-office presence is likely to mean that you’re getting the best of both worlds – it means ample opportunity for everybody to work where they are most comfortable and most productive.

Trust and honesty go hand-in-hand, so if you’re finding it difficult to make the transition into managing a hybrid team, then ensuring that you open up honest conversations is an important step. This is never truer than relating to workload.

We all know that priorities simply have to be flexible nowadays – every day there is an unexpected fire that needs putting out, and thus your workload fluctuates day by day, if not hour by hour. If you check in regularly with your team, and discuss your workloads and priorities, it offers everyone a stronger understanding of what everybody is dealing with.

This also prevents individuals from becoming overwhelmed and burnt out, which helps the team to work at its best consistently, whilst reducing staff turnover rates.

Plan your calendar with purpose

When managing in a hybrid environment, planning your online calendar is a sure way that your team can always be sure of your schedule and your priorities.

The first step to using your calendar to your advantage is to ensure that your meetings, deadlines, planned activities, and even lunch breaks are clearly marked on your calendar. This helps to communicate with your team without you even having to say a word.

There is a balance to be struck between staying in regular communication with your team and micromanaging them, so it’s important to not go too crazy with scheduling calls!

Planning regular 1:1 meetings between yourself and the people you manage is key to keeping that communication smooth. It also offers the people you manage an opportunity to raise any issues with you, ask any questions, to check on their progress, and offers you an opportunity to give feedback.

However, be careful to monitor that you don’t hold these meetings more often than is necessary. Not only is this a waste of time for you both, but it also can be perceived as micromanagement, which infringes on the trust you have worked hard to build. Once a week should be regular enough.

Remember. Your calendar can be maximized by more than just your individual catch-up meetings…

Book in time to socialize

One of the biggest hurdles of hybrid work is the lack of clear social time between colleagues, but don’t just accept this! Instead, book time in to build a social community between colleagues.

49% of workers see the office as more of a social space than they used to, which makes the importance of social time in the workplace even greater. And this is equally important when faced with a hybrid team.

This could take many forms, from team building to after-work drinks, and you probably won’t stick to just one way of increasing social time – a mix and match approach is best!

If your hybrid model involves most of the team coming into the office fairly regularly, such as a 2 days in office/3 days at home system, a great way to incorporate social time is to book after work activities on days that most people come in.

Team social nights can be regularly and easily organised and can offer a really valuable opportunity for your team to get together, get to know each other more personally, and to build a camaraderie based on shared social experiences.

An opportunity to socialize and blow off steam after a day in the office is undoubtedly a fantastic bonding experience, and a great way to create a community within a hybrid team.

You can also incorporate more lowkey social opportunities into your weekly calendar with ‘Friday Fun’ calls, team quizzes, social catch-up calls, and scheduled coffee breaks, as well as creating a team group chat designed for chatty fun, rather than work.

Aim for equality

For some companies, hybrid working means an individualized system where some may come into the office every day, some may be permanently remote, and some may have a blended calendar. Regardless of who is in the office, how often, and when – you must aim to treat everybody in your team equally.

Equality of outcome is different from equality of treatment. There are some members of your team, for example, who will inevitably need a little bit more help than others. Whether they are new to your company, or just need some more guidance, there is no reason not to give extra attention where it is needed.

However, it is important to be careful not to give extra attention where it is not needed. Focus on where your guidance and assistance is needed, and aim to offer it there.

Similarly, it can be easy to fall into the habit of delegating tasks to the same people each time, simply because you speak to them more regularly (maybe they are in the office most regularly) or they have proved themselves to complete tasks effectively in the past. In fact, 42% of supervisors admitted to sometimes forgetting about remote workers when assigning tasks.

With a hybrid workforce, you need to be careful not to let anybody fall through the cracks. When delegating tasks and assigning workloads, make sure to carefully think about remote workers and ensure that they are being given the same opportunities as office workers.

Be driven by purpose

In the past, workplace culture has been something that employees can pick up on and contribute to naturally, simply by being in the office five days a week. In a hybrid workplace, however, the culture, goals, and ethos of your company and team have to be communicated with a little more consideration.

When discussing projects, tasks, and feedback with your team, focus on the overarching goals you are working towards. When members of your team understand not only what they are working on, but why it is important and how it will have a positive impact, it helps them to be motivated by purpose rather than command. Caring about the impact of a project will help your team to work hard on it and to give it their best.

Having goals shouldn’t only be a team-wide initiative – having clear personal development goals, as discussed with managers, is essential to growth. Upskilling and professional development should be a priority for everyone in the workplace, and creating SMART goals is an incredibly effective way to focus on this.

Not only does having clear goals improve productivity, but it also helps your team to be genuinely invested in the team and company around them. This is especially important in a hybrid environment, where the physical distance from the workplace can have a negative impact on workers’ sense of personal involvement, inclusion, and proximity.

Offer regular feedback & gratitude

On remote days, or with fully remote team members, it can be easy to slip into a habit of communication for function only. But a kind word goes a long way!

Saying ‘thank you’ to members of your team when they assist you, shouting out fantastic work in team meetings, and highlighting big wins are all important morale boosters.

Being communicative with your team to invest in a communal team environment means going above and beyond. Namely, it means making an effort to communicate your gratitude and recognition of their hard work, even (or perhaps especially) when it isn’t necessary.

Similarly, regardless of whether it is constructive or entirely positive, regular feedback is so important in creating a healthy workplace environment. This is even more important in a hybrid system, as your team may not be able to pick up on cues or discuss with colleagues so easily as a fully in-office system.

Set time aside to help your team reflect on their progress, their successes, and problems they have encountered. Not only is this important as part of your ‘guiding’ role as manager, but it is also key to building a strong working, and managerial, relationship with those in your team. They need to know how to move forward, and this is not possible without feedback from their manager.

Invest in coaching

Managing a team, whether you’re in a hybrid workforce or not, means knowing your limits and seeking out further managerial assistance when necessary, in order to support your team as best you can.

Management coaching can be vital in developing skills to manage a hybrid team more effectively, whilst it’s also proven to be highly successful in boosting confidence and seeing observable performance improvements.

Coaching is one of the best ways to bring expertise into your work environment and to benefit the whole team. Whether this is managers taking part in leadership coaching, team members navigating through change, or a business investing in a process like EZRA Measure to assess progression, there are plenty of ways to reap the benefits of professional coaching.

With the EZRA app, coaching can be easily organized remotely with a vast range of coaches worldwide, all with different sets of expertise. Considering that 29% of remote workers have noticed fewer developmental opportunities while working remotely, online coaching is a solution to a problem that will inevitably grow.

Whether you’re interested in becoming a more effective manager or seeking to invest in your team with employee coaching, EZRA is able to work with individuals, teams, or whole companies to make a real difference with bespoke coaching programmes tailor made to your needs.

Learn more about EZRA coaching here.

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