With global vaccination programs being rapidly rolled out, it’s a matter of time before businesses rethink remote office workers and try to return to normal. However, this “new normal” won’t be the same as before. The world as a whole won’t bounce back to the pre-pandemic way of working and living. Businesses will have to adapt to digital change to survive.
Many workers have already decided that they have a much improved work-life balance when working from home. Employers have also seen benefits to the remote work model, such as lower overheads and increased productivity.
Yet this isn’t for everyone. Other employees miss the office environment and are eager to return. Some jobs don’t allow for remote working on a continuous basis either, so the need to head back into the office is more pressing for some than for others.
Hybrid working environments look set to be a staple of this “new norm,” with teams split between office and home. But how do you manage a hybrid team without creating a “them and us” divide that lowers morale and overall productivity?
VoIP services will be essential for solving this problem. You might be wondering “how does voice over IP work?” It’s simple really. VoIP allows real-time internet calls that don’t drop service or cost the earth, so if you’re working with a hybrid team across the globe, communication is never an issue.
Like all software, there are advantages and disadvantages of using VoIP, but it’s a great option for supporting teams and customer communication around the world and over various devices.
Working in a post-pandemic world will also mean retraining managers to work more effectively and investing in new technologies that enable remote workers to feel like part of the organization.
For retailers and manufacturers, streamlining processes by investing in the best inventory management software will be crucial to attaining hybrid success too.
Below, we’ve set out five of the steps you can take to lead your hybrid team to victory.
1. Hire the Right Staff
First and foremost, start with recruitment. Remote working isn’t for everyone. Some employees are more suited to it than others.
When looking at recruiting staff, search for a particular skill set. Look for candidates who have a proven track record in their field. Self-motivated self-starters who are punctual and responsive are ideal. You’ll also want to consider staff who have previous experience of remote work and perform well in this type of role.
Certain personality types are more suited to remote employment, and excellent communication skills are a must. In addition to this, remote workers should be tech-savvy, comfortable using services like Dialpad, and able to send a fax online for answers the business may rely on immediately.
Ensuring the correct staffing situation from the start will enable your hybrid office to run much more smoothly.
2. Measure Performance Fairly
The new way of working brings with it a new way of managing staff. You can’t be overly focused on how much time onsite staff spend at their desks if you don’t apply the same rules to remote employees. Different rules for each group will enhance the divide and leave one or both parties feeling that they’re receiving the raw end of the deal.
As we advance with hybrid environments, performance will have to be measured by quality rather than desk time. By setting joint objectives for all staff to work towards, you’ll best be able to gauge this for each employee. This ensures a fairer environment and makes it less likely employees will harbor resentment towards one another.
Promotions and progressions should be thought about fairly, and the same opportunities should be open to all staff, not just those onsite. Creating an equal environment will make your employees feel safe and valued and cut down on staff turnover.
Creating a fair and equitable working environment is difficult when dealing with a geographically distributed team. Communication and engagement issues will arise more often than with an onsite team, and this can cause a split.
Working under the stress of the global pandemic has also thrown new problems into the arena for hybrid workers. Some may not be able to return to work for health reasons and are feeling isolated working from home, while others will have little to no childcare and are juggling their professional commitments with homeschooling children.
This means the dynamics are different to pre-2020, and the best way to manage this situation is to lead with compassion. You have to be willing to consider the lived experience of your employees and what you can do to empower them. Only then will you create a fair and equal environment for your hybrid team.
3. Set out Clear Expectations and Accountability from the Outset
Setting out precise expectations early on ensures that all staff have a clear view of who is responsible for what. This makes accountability easier to track and cuts down on blame-shifting. There’s staff tracking software that can help with this and cloud-based software that enables staff to share information quickly.
This extends to your leadership too, so set your team up for success by outfitting them with the right tools. For example, more cloud-based services mean that companies have to be more aware of cloud-based and onsite security or CASB. Businesses that are handling large amounts of data should thus invest in top CASB vendors.
Project management software is also a great help in allowing staff to communicate and share their work milestones.
4. Equal and Fair Rewards for All
The best way to keep a hybrid team working is to create an atmosphere where all things are equal. If you offer benefits only to office staff, remote workers may find themselves demotivated at not receiving the same rewards.
In-office yoga or local gym membership for office employees won’t be of any use to those working remotely. It’s vital then that benefits of equal value are offered to remote workers. Online yoga classes or nationwide gym memberships may be more cost-effective, and don’t forget to host virtual events that allow all staff to come together in a social setting.
Software that allows for better team communication is vital to morale and good working relationships. Offering virtual social events gives your remote team a chance to share in the social aspect and creates a virtual watercooler effect. The benefits of a collaborative working environment for businesses are far-reaching, and every effort should be made to manifest this into reality.
In the long-term, you should also try to bring your team together for physical social events to encourage and foster a united atmosphere and healthy working relationships. Physical events that only office staff can attend will create a further divide in hybrid teams.
5. Train Exceptional Leaders
Excellent team leaders and managers are key to hybrid working environments and the challenges they bring. Leaders who are willing to experiment with new ways of working, new routines, and management approaches will be better suited to lead hybrid teams. For example, remote working and hybrid offices can cause extra stress for employees, so businesses must recruit leaders who are sensitive to this.
Leaders must define exact working hours for teams, so employees know who is working a given shift. Many remote workers will be inclined to answer messages or quickly send off a document from home even when they aren’t on shift. This can lead to the feeling that they’re always on call and never off duty, which can result in burnout.
Hybrid managers will face new challenges moving forward and should be trained to recognize the signs of overwork. They must be on the lookout for their staff’s health and well-being at all times. Managers should be trained in such a way that they know how to create safe psychological workspaces where employees can be open and communicative. This means managers themselves should be communicative and open to employee concerns.
Flexibility and the ability to adapt quickly to new situations as they arise are essential for managers and staff working in hybrid teams. Emotional intelligence and community building are more important than ever as we head toward a post-pandemic working environment, and a good manager can be the difference between your company’s success and failure.
The future working environment won’t be the same as the one we left behind in 2020. As things slowly return to ‘normal’, it’s clear that work as we know it will look very different moving forward. The world has collectively been forced to work flexibly and adapt quickly, and these are skills employers should harness in the future.
Hybrid teams will undoubtedly become the norm, and great managers are essential to making this model work. Importantly, successful hybrid teams are much more achievable with the right investment.
This post is written for actitime.com by Elea Andrea Almazora, a SEO Content Optimization manager at RingCentral and a leader in global enterprise communication and VoIP services.