Remote work is likely to become more than a pandemic-induced trend. According to research from Global Workplace Analytics, 77% percent of the workforce says they want to keep working from home at least a day or two per week once the pandemic is over.
As you plan your return to the office, you realize that you might have a couple of employees who are working on-site, a few who have opted to work from home, and several who do a little bit of both.
This blog will address the top tips for both managers and employees when transitioning to a hybrid team. But first, let’s clear up what exactly a “hybrid workforce” means.
What is a hybrid workforce?
If you asked this question before 2020, the answer would have been simple. A hybrid workforce consists of employees who work in the office and employees who work remotely.
Now, a hybrid team is made up of employees who get to choose where they do their work. At home, in the office a few days a week, from a coworking space or coffee shop.
This brings new challenges for leaders who are now managing a dispersed workforce and for employees who are feeling the effects of isolation but want to stay safe and healthy. So what are leaders to do?
Strategies for leaders transitioning to a hybrid workforce
Leaders have a specific skill set that enables them to be effective. But do the same set of skills apply when managing a dispersed workforce? The answer is yes and no.
While effective communication, driving performance, and establishing team culture are still important, challenges arise when some workers are at home while others are in their cubicles. A different approach to leadership is needed for this transition. Here are some strategic suggestions for leaders to consider when bringing remote teams back into the office, even if it’s only for a few days a week.
1. Address safety concerns
As select employees trickle back into the office, leaders should follow CDC guidelines closely to create a safe and healthy workplace for everyone.
Also, consider new technologies or software to integrate into the office. A virtual receptionist may feel like an episode of “The Jetsons,” but it’s a simple and effective way to greet staff and guests post-pandemic.
When you adopt a “people first, safety first” mindset, your remote team will feel much more confident and secure coming back into the office, whether part-time or full-time. But what about the employees that choose to continue to work remotely?
2. Cultivate a remote-first culture
A remote-first culture means that remote work is the default for your team. Technology like Zoom, Slack, and Microsoft Teams are tools to help us connect and collaborate from wherever we are in the world.
As companies begin to transition from 100% work-from-home to a hybrid model, this ensures your team is able to successfully do their jobs from anywhere. You can help ensure a smooth transition by adopting a remote-first culture and integrating the hybrid workforce model into your company’s business strategy long-term.
3. Embrace the transition to a hybrid workforce
In a recent Gartner webinar poll, 78% of HR leaders identified leaders’ mindsets as a greater challenge than their skill sets in driving the success of a hybrid model of work.
View this new approach to work as an opportunity rather than a hindrance. For example, a hybrid work model opens the door to access new pools of talent without location constraints. It also allows employees with children, those with health concerns, or other constraints to continue to contribute.
With more companies making this change, hybrid teams are here to stay. Your best bet is to embrace this transition.
4. Develop trust in your employees
Are you used to managing by counting heads rather than results? That won’t help you with a hybrid workforce model.
With some members of your team working from home and others from their office desks, you have to trust your employees to do the work you hired them to do. Whether you’re breathing over their necks or not.
In this new age of hybrid teams, communication, when and where work gets done… it’s all fluid. As a leader, you sacrifice a small amount of control and allow it to empower your employees. With that in mind, here are four tips for employees to approach working on a hybrid team as their company transitions to a dispersed workforce.
Strategies for employees transitioning to a hybrid team
Many employees have been working remotely over the past year. But soon, people will return to the office and team members will become more dispersed, making working together effectively even more difficult than ever.
To ensure the transition is smooth, there are a few core things to keep in mind. Here are some strategies for employees to approach the transition from remote working to working on a hybrid team.
1. Communicate, communicate, communicate
It’s easy to stay connected with everyone on your team in our technological age. The best ways to facilitate communication and collaboration despite everyone not being in the same room? Turn your video on when you attend meetings virtually, schedule weekly check-in calls with your manager, and catch up more casually with coworkers on Slack.
Especially with the new tools available to us today, stay fluid with your style and frequency of communication. Some of your team members may require more quick check-ins while others may need less. Don’t know which one is best? Ask.
2. Stay flexible
Speaking of fluidity, flexibility is key when working on a hybrid team.
Maybe you’re in the office again and have to wait on correspondence from a remote team member to continue with your project. Or maybe you’re the one who has to deal with being the only one on the video call during team meetings. Either way, stay flexible and understanding. Everyone is navigating this change together.
3. Manage your stress
Did you know that positive human connections can lower perceived stress as well as levels of stress hormones? Also, connecting with people you trust can improve mood, help you feel safer, and reduce stress. Use that connectedness you get from going through something together as a group to your advantage during the transition from remote working to a hybrid workforce.
Brainstorm with your workers about a tough project, make it a point to connect and collaborate with others to boost your morale, or just take a moment to communicate with someone else who’s going through this time of change too. The idea is to stay connected and involved with people you trust, like your coworkers.
4. Keep yourself involved
Even with the intention to stay involved in office life, as a remote employee, it’s easy to be forgotten. And with that comes potential problems.
According to Wharton management professor Martine Haas, “If you have more access to resources and more visibility, that makes you potentially a more powerful, influential person in your team or in your work group. Depending on where you’re positioned in this hybrid system, you’re going to maybe have more power or less power than somebody else.”
Be sure to stay connected and in touch with others on your team as well as leadership. Especially if you’re on the remote work side of the hybrid workforce.
Over the past year, employees and leaders got a taste of what it’s like to be a remote worker. Some enjoyed the time away from the office while others are ready to get back to their cubicles. While there may be challenges that accompany the transition to a hybrid workforce model, it’s the perfect middle-ground for our new world of work.