As remote working reached an all-time high during the lockdown period of COVID-19, many organisations had to quickly adapt to the new ways of working. Although remote working isn’t a new concept and has been adopted by many organisations across the globe, it wasn't the norm, especially remote working on a full-time basis.
Post-pandemic, instead of reverting back to the old ways of full-time working in the office, many organisations have chosen to adopt a hybrid working approach, whereby staff work from both home and the office.
Remote working has many advantages but it isn't always effective for every organisation all of the time. Out of the offices, call centres, public sector and technology companies that it works well for, some can find it difficult to empower their staff and keep the culture and motivation alive when everyone is in different locations.
Hybrid workforces were the solution to this, requiring staff to come into the office some days of the week and allowing them to work remotely the rest of the time. In some cases, this might result in cases where teams work together in a combination of virtual and in-person collaboration, especially if some employees are based further away than others and can’t visit the office as much.
If you’re a business owner, manager or team lead in hybrid workspaces, managing a hybrid team can be challenging. In this article, we share our tips to help you lead and empower your staff when having a hybrid workforce.
A hybrid work environment has employees working both remotely and in a shared office space or onsite at a factory, plant or workshop. Employees may have individual flexibility to come into the workplace on their preferred days or may have set days of the week when they and every member of the team need to be on site.
Hybrid working environments may be used to maximise efficiency when it comes to collaborative and individual work, or may just be offered to give employees more freedom in whether they want to work remotely or in the office. There’s no standard way of hybrid working, so it’s up to teams and their managers to figure out the best way to work that suits everyone.
Research from Gallup into the advantages and benefits of hybrid working found that 71% of respondents said that hybrid workspaces allowed them to maintain a better work-life balance. They also highlighted that hybrid working led to experiencing less work burnout and fatigue, which is likely linked to the first advantage.
These are both benefits for employers as when employees are more energised at work they are also more engaged and productive, which facilitates more output for the company and therefore greater revenue.
The same research also highlighted that an advantage of hybrid workplaces was a more efficient use of time. When employees have dedicated days working in the office and elsewhere they can be more intentional about how they spend their time in both scenarios, leading to more efficient collaborative and deep focus time.
A study by Owl Labs on working from home during the 2020 pandemic found that 78% of employees were more likely to recommend their employer as a place of work if they were offered a hybrid working arrangement with 75% also less likely to leave their job if they had this flexibility. So not only can leading hybrid teams allow them to produce better work, but it also improves the reputation of your business and can help you retain and recruit employees more effectively.
When it comes to how to manage the hybrid workplace, empowering teams is key. As a manager, you want to ensure that all of your colleagues are being productive and fulfilling their role requirements, but to make the most out of hybrid working you want to empower work-from-home employees and enforce hybrid workforce best practices.
Below are some of the key things to focus on when it comes to how to manage a hybrid team.
It’s good practice to develop a goals and objectives plan with all of your staff to help empower them to plan their workday, according to where they will be working.
When out of the office and in a more relaxed environment like home, it can be harder for staff to stick to a routine, although being in the office can be distracting as well. Encourage your managers to work with employees to write down goals together so they have a clear aim to work towards, which will help keep them focused wherever they work.
Hybrid working can sometimes feel like a lonesome ride, particularly when working remotely. To help reduce this you can invest in virtual team-building activities to help employees feel included and part of the organisation no matter where they choose to work.
Team-building activities don't have to be limited to people within the same department, you can also roll it out across the organisation to give everyone a chance to meet each other. If possible, why not try and organise a day once a week, fortnightly or monthly where everyone comes into the office to catch up face-to-face?
Setting aside time for a regular check-in between managers and teams is also a great way to empower your employees. Giving them dedicated attention and time will allow them to discuss any issues and queries they may have. It is also a nice way to have a general chat and see how they are getting on. Feeling included and looked after also helps build trust between employees and managers which can increase their motivation.
A critical aspect of any job is growth and development and there is currently a huge demand for personal and professional development training. When working remotely, organisations are provided with the perfect opportunity to empower their staff with the tools and training they need to develop. Help create personalised training and learning plans with employees and consult with them on key skills they wish to develop.
Hybrid working means your team is often split up, with some employees in the office when others are at home, and so wins can often go amiss. The lack of interaction and communication with the wider team can sometimes mean that sharing goals that have been achieved or giving positive feedback takes a back seat.
As an organisation, you should create a dedicated time or space to share wins, whether it’s a new sale, a new client or something small. Sharing these wins helps empower staff to perform better and feel positive about themselves.
No set number of days constitutes a hybrid working model, so any number of days split between working from home and an office counts when it comes to managing hybrid teams. Some companies may only ask for employees to come in once a week, whereas others may encourage three days in the office and only two working remotely.
A hybrid team is a group of employees who work together but aren't always working in the same place. Hybrid teams may be made up of employees dotted around a country who only come together once a month or so, or they might be departments in a business where employees can choose whether to work from home or the office and so often collaborate virtually as well as face-to-face.
Hybrid work from home means that employees have the option to come into the office to work but also are empowered to work from home in line with company guidelines. Some forms of hybrid work allow employees to work remotely from any location, not necessarily their place of residence, whereas hybrid work from home usually means that teams need to be working from the same place every time they work remotely.
A mix of setting goals and objectives, checking in, sharing wins and providing the opportunity for development is key to leading hybrid teams that are effective and empowered. It can be difficult for organisations that are used to having employees within a physical space, whether that be solely at home or solely in the office, to adjust to hybrid working. However, with the right tools and techniques, understanding how to manage hybrid working can be highly beneficial for both you and your employees.
If you’re a manager looking for more support and advice for hybrid workplace management, our ‘Leading Remote Teams’ online course is a valuable resource that covers plenty of topics related to how to manage the hybrid workplace.