1. Leadership training and support
Managing a hybrid workplace is likely to require a different set of skills to managing people working entirely remotely or from the office. Leadership needs to be flexible and implement processes and procedures that will support and strengthen employees no matter where they are located. Just some of the areas management training for the hybrid workplace should cover include:
• Avoiding proximity bias so no cohort feels they are being treated unfairly
• Active listening so managers can lead with empathy and understand each individual’s situation
• Flexible return to the office so that employees feel safe and comfortable after such a protracted time away
2. Ensure you have the right software and equipment
If employees don’t have access to the right software and equipment while working from home, it can very quickly leave them feeling left behind. Try to support your employee as much as possible in developing a workstation at home that is somewhat similar to an office setting. Particularly if hybrid working is not optional.
3. Chart and invest in all forms of collaboration equally
Hybrid working offers employees a wealth of choices when it comes to how they work. A study by Garner showed there were four work modules that employers must invest equally in to see collaborative success in the hybrid workplace:
• Working together, together: teams are in the same place and contributing to meetings in the same space.
• Working alone, together: teams are in the same space but not working at the same time.
• Working together, apart: teams are working from different locations but are working together virtually.
• Working alone, apart: teams are working from different locations but are conducting deep focus work.
Depending on the task at hand an employee in a hybrid workplace is likely to have a preferred option. For example, they may wish to work from home for focus work and in the office for collaborative work. Or be able to access meetings remotely if they have a day that will be a hybrid of both.
4. Incorporate social opportunities while working remotely
As mentioned earlier, social opportunities are important for the success of collaboration in the hybrid workplace. This becomes difficult when employees are hybrid working. They may work to different schedules or some may work from home more often than others. Like many elements of hybrid working, the HR departments will have to be intentional about helping their workforce to find social opportunities. Some popular methods of improving social interaction include:
- Coffee roulette: employees volunteer to be paired up for a virtual coffee break. This mimics the sort of unplanned interaction that happens in an office setting, for example speaking to a colleague while getting a coffee or tea.
- Friday afternoon social: create an opt-in meeting that people can choose to join whether they are in the office or at home, to chat to friends and colleagues informally. They can use virtual rooms to create smaller groups or update each other in a group setting.
- Make time for fun: missing after work socials? Recreate the fun with a performance by a virtual entertainer.
- Celebrate special events: encourage employees to celebrate holidays or events with enthusiasm, particularly if they offer an opportunity to dress up or try different food. Allowing our playful side show at work helps us to build better relationships no matter where we are located.
Hybrid working environments can provide new ways for employees to collaborate, but employers must intentionally create these opportunities initially. In time, we all hope they will become second nature.
If you are managing a hybrid workforce working across the world, our international health insurance group plans may help you to provide the support they need while transitioning into the new world of work.