Four practical steps to overcome the challenges of the hybrid workplace
The hybrid workplace has grown as companies continue to adapt to the ever-changing business environment. Companies have been forced to face new challenges and adapt their thinking to cope with challenging times. Those who face these challenges with creativity will find themselves in a strong position going forward. The biggest bottleneck is leaders who are stuck in the past. They refuse to accept that business has changed. The workforce is defying the old way of working and forcing the transition to a hybrid workplace. What we’re seeing is all the highly skilled workers flocking to companies that use a hybrid workplace model. Leaders are scratching their heads as their best talent moves into the future. Given this, there are hybrid workplace challenges to consider. Let’s take a closer look at them.
Hybrid work challenges to overcome
Running a hybrid workplace is complex
Merging in-office employees with remote workers is a challenging prospect. The two groups must work as a team. Getting them together for meetings and assigning tasks can be quite tricky. Hybrid teams require a lot of flexibility to thrive. Employees working from home have a routine they follow. This routine may vary for each employee. Importantly, they are productive, so companies should be flexible in this regard.
In addition, leadership is also a complex challenge when it comes to hybrid teams. It is difficult to get office workers and home workers to work effectively as a team. Leaders are encouraged to develop methods of accountability within the team to ensure that everyone is pulling their weight. This means improving employee accountability to employees.
Proximity bias is a basic sentiment
Office workers tend to receive better feedback, communication and more opportunities for promotion than remote workers. This leads to a challenge known as proximity bias. If left unchecked, proximity bias creates a wedge between office workers and home workers. Perception is everything. It doesn’t matter if the proximity bias actually occurs. Remote workers will perceive this simply because they are not in the office. This condition feeds resentment as remote workers feel they are being treated unfairly. This too is only one side of the coin. Office workers may perceive that remote workers have it easier. Addressing proximity bias is one method leaders can use to avoid a toxic work environment.
Cracks are forming in the Hybrid Workplace
The foundation of hybrid teams is quite fragile. Without sound processes, it will create cracks in place. This is why some hybrid teams work well in the beginning but struggle over time. Companies can strengthen their hybrid teams by establishing a foundational plan to guide everyone forward. Another area where we see cracks created is onboarding. When hiring new workers for a hybrid team, have them shadow employees in the office to understand the underlying culture. Of course, this is not possible when involving remote workers, so managers must take this into account. This is one of the most difficult challenges we face when building hybrid teams.
Build a successful hybrid team with these 4 tips
We’ve explored the challenges of the hybrid workplace, so let’s look at some steps leaders can take to make their hybrid teams more effective. Leaders need to approach this with a different mindset. Leading a hybrid team requires more time, which is a challenge because leaders tend to have so little time. But the effort is worth the reward, so here are some of the essential steps to running a successful hybrid workplace.
1. One-on-one communication is essential
Check with staff in individual settings to make sure they are OK. Ask them for feedback to improve the workflow and answer any questions they might have about their work. Then listen carefully and acknowledge their thoughts. That way, employees won’t feel like they’re being left out of important decisions. Remote workers need one-on-one communication at least once a week, sometimes more. Don’t limit communication to work-related items either. Talking about non-work related topics also creates connection and prevents workers from becoming narrow minded.
2. Don’t neglect remote workers
Respond to communications with remote employees immediately so they feel like they’re in the loop. Carelessness creates a perception of bias among remote workers. See it from their point of view. Their office colleagues can access the leaders whenever they want. Remote workers are at the mercy of emails and phone calls. They want to feel like they have the same access to leaders as their colleagues in the office.
3. Occasionally reassess the team’s purpose
It’s easy for remote workers to become so focused on their individual projects that they lose the perspective of the team. While face-to-face employees have direct access to the office culture, remote workers have no way to stay on the team. One solution to avoid this problem is to refocus the team’s purpose from time to time. This keeps remote workers from getting locked into specific tasks and losing sight of the overall purpose. It’s also a great idea to share team wins and create virtual leaderboards so remote workers can access the same data as their in-house colleagues.
4. Use collaboration tools
Teamwork in hybrid teams can be a bit complex, so it’s important to equip these teams with collaboration tools. Create a shared environment that allows internal and remote workers to check assignment status. At the very least, you need an online bulletin board and project management tools to keep them on track. Of course, you can add more tools as needed. The key is to use technology that makes it easier for hybrid team members to collaborate. These tools reinforce a teamwork mentality and remind everyone that they depend on each other.
Following these tips will help reduce the natural rifts that form in the hybrid workplace. The most important factor is communication. Cultivating accountability in your team will empower them, but it’s your job to give them the tools to do so.
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