Wasn’t 2022 the year everyone was supposed to return to their office? But that didn’t happen. Last year employees won the work-from-home battle with their bosses, and only 34% of employees returned to their rolly chairs in the United States.
As many as 50% of workers are in a hybrid setup. That’s like half of the nation. Why? One of the biggest reasons workers prefer staying home is long commutes.
Polls consistently reveal that workers value face-to-face contact and prefer to be in the workplace two days a week. Overwhelmingly, many employers and managers have accepted their demands.
Now, what does this tell us? Working in hybrid settings is the new norm and is here to stay. With half of the workers working from the office and the other half from home, how do you ensure that the entire workforce is in sync?
Leading the team with compassion is the key to handling a hybrid workforce. Below are a few tips that will help you manage your team in the best way possible.
4 Tips for Managers to Successfully Manage a Hybrid Workforce:
1. Create and Set Expectations
First things first: create and set new protocols and practices for your employees. Affirm the aspects of your organization’s culture that you want to be the same and discuss the ones that need to be adapted.
Besides basic norms for communicating, set guidelines for channels to use for communication, i.e., phone, email, Slack, etc. You can also ask remote workers to be online during certain core hours to stay on schedule with the rest of the team.
Also, talk about the working hours of remote employees. If people outside the office wish to work at odd hours, allow them to modify their schedule. Remember, your purpose is to establish a new culture by determining “the best way to work” in a hybrid setting.
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2. Invest in a Project Management Software
In a remote setting, it’s easier to miss notifications about projects, deadlines, and goals, unlike in a face-to-face setting. To avoid that, schedule regular online meetings, preferably every week, to keep track of your team’s progress on ongoing projects.
Remember, synchronous tools aren’t enough. Investing in enterprise-class software with project management tools and capabilities will be wise, especially if your company runs multiple projects.
A project management system streamlines employees’ workflow across the organization by keeping data, documents, and creatives in one place. With employees spread out geographically and in different time zones, project management software eliminates the difficulty of managing a scattered workforce.
A recent survey revealed that organizations that do not leverage project management systems waste 12% of their resources due to poor project management. Adopting good project management software can save your organization’s valuable resources. Also, have an explicit discussion about the hours of communication.
While Slack and Skype are great for communicating, Mango Practice Management says that internal communication relating to projects and tasks must take place with the project management software.
Therefore, when investing in project management software, check if it can be integrated with tools you use to manage your daily operations.
3. Prioritize Tasks Keeping Flexibility in Mind
From the get-go, you must set clear priorities so that your employees know what’s important and what’s not. The best way to do so is to hold a regular “Monday huddle“. In this gathering, you must let your employees know which tasks and projects are most important and need to be completed by the end of the week.
When you focus on the most important tasks, you build flexibility. This way, if any employee needs a day or two off, they can let you know, and others can pick up the burden. As such, you won’t panic because of incomplete projects at the eleventh hour.
4. Watch for Signs of Burnout
As an employer or manager, you must pay close attention to your employees’ stress levels. It isn’t uncommon for employees to be exhausted, irritable, and stressed.
Say, you notice a calm and composed team member having a shorter fuse. Or, an outspoken or talkative member suddenly turns docile. Consider the changes in employees’ behavior as a sign of burnout.
You must take steps to help your employees. If an employee tells you they are overwhelmed, help them prioritize tasks. It may also happen that one of your team members may be going through a tough situation. Help them get through it day by day or task by task. Remember, connection and focus are the antidote to burnout.
Get Started With Managing Hybrid Teams
Leading a hybrid team might seem challenging, but it isn’t impossible. While conventional leadership ideas can get in the way, you will have to let go of them.
A hybrid workforce requires smart and progressive leaders who can find ways to channel the tides of change rather than trying to turn them back. Leveraging the latest tech innovations will help streamline workflows across the entire organization.
Also, do not be rigid or ignore signs of stress. Instead, be empathetic and search for ways to bring playfulness to the workforce.