Traditionally, most businesses operated with their entire workforce located in the office. In the past year, due to the pandemic, businesses had to quickly transition their employees to working entirely from home. Today, we are in somewhat of a gray area, and companies are trying to maneuver the modern world of hybrid work. This model enables employees to alternate between in-person and remote work, catering their location to their individual needs and preferences. But, while this is a highly beneficial work model, it is relatively new to most organizations. As a result, many organizations are struggling to manage a workforce in divided locations. Fortunately, there are ways to make your company thrive utilizing the hybrid work model. To do so, you must avoid these five common hybrid work mistakes.
The idea behind hybrid work is that it provides employees the flexibility to choose their own work location. Employees can choose whether to work in the office or remotely on any given day. There are countless factors that may impact an employee's need to work in one location over another, so hybrid work offers employees the flexibility to make this decision. That being said, a common mistake that companies make is allowing flexibility on location but not on schedules.
Work/life balance has been a constant struggle for professionals. There are endless factors that may affect an employee's schedule, and they don't cease to exist between 9 am and 5 pm. Many employees have children, pets, and family members that they must take care of, in addition to commutes or other external factors that could impact their workday. The added stress of these external responsibilities can severely impact an employee's performance at no fault of their own. Stressors such as these considerably contribute to employee burnout, which can be devastating to your workforce.
By offering employees flexible scheduling, they can maintain a better work/life balance that allows them to be productive and satisfied at work. Designating synchronous collaboration times can ensure that employees are available to meet with their team while managing the rest of their time according to a schedule that best suits them.
Failing to Understand Employees Needs
As mentioned, there are countless reasons why an employee may choose to work in one location over another. Every individual in your organization has unique needs, so while one person may prefer to work in the physical office, that may not be feasible for others. A common mistake that many companies make is to assume their employees' needs and make decisions based on that assumption. This can provide employees with a "solution" that does not meet their needs or create a new problem.
Instead, companies need to communicate with their employees. Rather than assume that all employees want to work in the office or all want to work remotely, allow your employees to make this decision on their own. Have a conversation with your team members to find a solution that works for both of you, allowing them to be as productive and happy as possible.
Favoring In-Office Teams
With a hybrid work model, your company's workforce will be divided the majority of the time. While this allows employees to work in an environment best suited to their preferences, it can create an imbalance of power between in-person and remote employees. Employees working together in the office may communicate outside of meetings or dominate hybrid meetings over remote employees. While this is likely unintentional, it can be frustrating for remote employees and cause problems in the workplace.
For the hybrid model to be successful, it is critical that equity is practiced. An excellent way to ensure equity between in-person and remote employees is by sharing information with them on an equal platform. Rather than sharing information with in-person employees before a meeting, ensure that all team members receive the same information simultaneously. Additionally, in meetings where multiple employees are in the same room, ensure that remote employees are included and given the opportunity to contribute.
In addition to team leaders and project managers sharing information equally with employees, it is also critical that team members communicate with one another. A common mistake of the hybrid model is poor communication between team members. If several team members are working together in the physical office, they might communicate project information to one another in person, forgetting to communicate with their remote colleagues. This is highly frustrating for those working from home, as they are disadvantaged without the same set of information as others.’
While you cannot ask team members in the same location not to speak to one another, you can encourage them to include all team members during any relevant discussions. Should something important occur, individuals should share information with all team members, ensuring that information is passed along. This will ensure that all team members are on the same page and able to perform their roles accurately and efficiently.
All Work and No Play
It can be easy to provide team building and social events for in-person employees as they are in one central location. For remote employees that do not have the opportunity to go out to lunch with one another or attend these team-building events in person, it can feel exclusive. Workplace relationships are essential within a company, and they should not only be available to those working in the office. If these relationships are not built, work can feel transactional, which can translate into low productivity and engagement.
To ensure that both in-person and remote employees benefit from building relationships and socializing, it can be helpful to offer virtual opportunities for connection. Making time for small talk at the beginning of a meeting or offering virtual "happy hours" can ensure that remote employees get the same social exposure as those in the office. Creating designing times to meet or connect to one another can help employees feel engaged within the company and ensure that they feel included no matter where they choose to work.
Hybrid work is highly beneficial to companies and their workforce alike. Offering employees the flexibility to choose their own work environment is instrumental in improving productivity, employee engagement, and job satisfaction. With an understanding of these five common hybrid work mistakes, you can ensure that your team operates seamlessly with one another – from any location.