Remote work is now proven to be efficient, effective, and realistic for many organizations. Before the world changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, organizations expected most of their employees to work in a traditional office, with remote work being the exception. Now, hybrid workplaces are becoming commonplace. In fact, in Gallup’s September update of its monthly employee trends reported that 45% of full-time U.S. employees are continuing to work remotely at least part of the time.
This new hybrid workplace requires supervisors and employees to be more intentional, proactive, flexible, and inclusive. It also requires a shift in thinking – away from going back to how things used to be, and instead focusing on how we can create success in this new world.
Read on for five best practices to foster success in a hybrid workplace.
- Encourage a hybrid mindset across all levels of your organization: Being part of a hybrid team requires not falling back into old patterns of thinking. It’s no longer enough to only consider employees’ in-office experiences. We must now think about, consider, and plan for those that are working remotely. Similarly, when working remotely, it is important to consider the experience of those in the office.
- Establish inclusive business practices and expectations: Avoid creating an environment where one group, whether in the office or working remotely is “less than” the other making sure no one starts to feel left out. Establish inclusive practices to create strong teams and relationships leveraging the contributions of both in-person and remote participants effectively. Do not fall into the trap of “proximity rule”, in delegation of work, distribution of resources and communication. In meetings, those joining remotely may not have the benefit of side conversations, body language, or access to post-meeting conversations. Unless everyone can meet in person, encourage meetings to be held virtually for all participants. If virtual meetings are not possible, establish meeting ground rules and consider using a facilitator or moderator. To allow participants to contribute equally from all locations, utilize tools such as virtual whiteboards and online collaboration platforms.
- Be proactive with team communications: Now more than ever it is important to make sure that teams are regularly communicating. Conducting team huddles, routine check-ins, group calls, regular email or text updates, short video calls, and regularly scheduled team meetings helps to keep all employees engaged and connected – regardless of their location.
- Intentionally foster relationships no matter where the work is done: Relationships among co-workers are integral to creating a fulfilling workplace. In hybrid workplaces, communications can often become purely transactional. Each team member is responsible for fostering relationships with co-workers. Encourage team members to block off time on their calendars for connecting with co-workers and building relationships.
- Make time for informal conversations: Beyond regularly scheduled calls and meetings, it’s important for employees to connect for informal “off-the-cuff” moments with those both in and out of the office. Proactively create virtual opportunities for water-cooler moments, coffee chats, lunchtime laughs, and post-meeting inspirations.
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