The 6 Must Do’s to Make Hybrid Work Effective in 2022

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The 6 Must Do’s to Make Hybrid Work Effective in 2022
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Home Business Magazine Online

The way the world works has changed dramatically in the past two years. A COVID-induced virtual revolution played out across industries and companies globally as employees were forced to work remotely.

As COVID slowly eases and teams have the option to return to a central office, the lingering question is: What now?

Should company leaders maintain this newfound remote way of working?

Or should a return to a central HQ be enforced?

In this article, I’ll outline that the answer lies in the fertile ground between remote and office-based work: hybrid work.

What Is Hybrid Work?

As the name suggests, hybrid work is a working environment built on the combination of remote and office-based team members.

In a hybrid environment, team members may split their work time in and out of the office. For example, two days at home and three days in the office. Or whole departments may be fully remote, while others are fully office-based.

The Hybrid Work Landscape

As company leaders grapple with what post-COVID work looks like, it’s clear hybrid work is a prevailing mindset. And this is reflected in the industry data.

According to Gartner Research, 82% of company leaders say they will allow employees to work remotely in the future. Further, Microsoft World Trend Index research found that 66% of leaders say their company is considering redesigning office space for hybrid work.

Finally, to demonstrate hybrid work is top of mind for leaders. Google Trends data reveals that web searches for the term “hybrid work” increased 400% in the first five months of 2021.

The shift to hybrid is playing out in clearly visible, real-world examples too:

  • Microsoft has said its employees will have the option to work from home 50% of the time
  • Ford will allow employees who went remote during the pandemic to stay remote (with managerial approval)
  • Google will allow most employees to work 3 days on-site and 2 days remote

The examples above from some of the world’s largest companies are a clear vote of confidence in the effectiveness of hybrid work to spur productivity and support employee engagement. And there are countless other examples across all sectors.

What’s the Appeal of Hybrid Work?

It’s no secret most team members revel in the idea of ​​working from home or remotely.

On the other side of the equation, many leaders prefer the proximity of managing an office-based team. After all, it can be more difficult to connect with, engage and support team members when doing so at a distance.

These two preferences can be at odds with each other: employees want to work from home, while leaders want them in a central location.

Enter hybrid work.

Hybrid work provides the freedom to work remotely on occasion while still enabling meaningful in-person interactions.

Hybrid work also helps cater to the segment of your workforce who don’t actually want to work from home. This could be for any number of reasons.

For example, some team members may not enjoy remote work because it blurs the separation between work and home life and removes the social element of the office. Or they may simply not have a home environment conducive to work. Whatever the reason, hybrid enables you to cater to a broader range of needs.

Now, let’s look at the six must-do’s to make hybrid work effective in 2022.

# 1 Focus on Continuity Across Office-Based and Remote Team Members

Person Working

When your team is split between the office and remote, there is the potential for a lack of continuity to exist. Certain employees may know each other better and managers may form deeper bonds with office-based staff.

If it gets really bad, it can result in what’s known as “two team syndrome”, where, as the name suggests, there is a clear separation between in-office and remote team members.

This is why fostering company culture is becoming increasingly important in a hybrid environment – and takes a different approach.

The flow of information in a hybrid environment is critical to nurturing continuity and culture. Make sure company information is shared – good, bad, or other – with wider teams so every team member has the same set of facts about every aspect of your business, like customers, sales etc.

Ensuring consistency of opportunity for office and remote team members is central to creating continuity across your hybrid team too. This means any opportunity within your company is equally available to employees, regardless of their working location. This can be a promotion, reward, new project, or otherwise. It’s vital no discrimination – real or perceived – exists within your hybrid workforce.

# 2 Don’t Stick Rigidly to a Hybrid Structure

When it comes to hybrid work, there’s no one size fits all structure to fit all teams. That’s why flexibility and agility are a must-have traits for hybrid teams.

The best way to initially design your hybrid environment is to start with a hypothesis for the most appropriate structure based on your team’s location, operations and preferences.

There’s no need to overanalyze or get too scientific from the outset. A good starting point is often as simple as three days in the office, two days remote. Once you have this initial structure in place, then you can use data and direct feedback from your team to determine what’s working and what’s not.

Then it’s a matter of continuously maintaining this open feedback loop, learning and then adjusting as necessary to create the most effective hybrid structure for your team. And, always remember, the structure you start with doesn’t have to be the one you use months from now.

# 3 Find the Right Technology

Technology is key to any modern workplace; but it takes on an even higher level of importance in a hybrid workplace.

When your team is split across postcodes, borders, and come in and out of the office, it can make managing their performance and maintaining clear communication more complex. That is, if you don’t have the right technology for the job.

It’s critical that conversations that impact multiple team members happen in a consistent way in and out of the office. For instance, it’s easy for office-based staff to have an important discussion “offline”, but if this conversation isn’t captured online via the right tools, whole swathes of your team won’t know about it.

Broadly speaking, there are three areas of technology your need as the foundation of your hybrid environment:

  • Communication tools (eg messaging and video conferencing)

There’s no shortage of communications to choose from. To avoid employees getting bombarded with notifications from every direction, choose a single tool for each communication method (eg Slack for messaging, Zoom for video), then put a policy in place that affirms these are your teams agreed upon platforms.

  • Collaboration tools (eg project management software)

Collaboration tools like project management software will keep your team’s projects and tasks moving forward, regardless of your working location. These tools, like Asana or Jira, are critical to keeping your team in sync in a hybrid environment and make it easy to manage team activity monitoring.

  • Performance management tools (eg workforce analytics and productivity monitoring)

Managing and measuring your team’s performance in a hybrid environment depends on having data and insights. An effective performance management tool like Workpuls will enable you to manage productivity, employee engagement and balance workloads across your hybrid team. These tools are especially valuable for time mapping and productivity tracking.

When choosing technology to manage your hybrid team or a specific working from home software, it’s important not to just “set and forget”. Make sure the performance management you do with software is accompanied by regular check ins and progress monitoring.

The most effective hybrid technology will also allow you to segment data based on working location. That way, you can see if team members work best at home, in the office or a particular combination of the two.

# 4 Design Your Hybrid Model Contextually

Person Working

When getting started with hybrid work, it’s easy to default to simply thinking in terms of the number of days that will be spent in or out of the office. However, you should also think more contextually about the roles and duties of your team members.

For instance, your marketing functions may be more conducive to remote work than product design. Or your customer service reps may be able to do their entire roles remotely.

Thinking contextually allows you to design your hybrid environment more effectively and consciously. It means you’re less likely to have team members offsite when they’re needed for critical onsite projects and tasks. And, conversely, it means you are less likely to needlessly require staff in the office.

Something else to think about here is the fact that not all team members will want to work from home, even if allowed. So be sure to factor your employees’ preferences in your planning too. It’ll do wonders for engagement.

# 5 Establish Regular In-Person Opportunities

Technology and online connectedness have come a long way. That said, nothing can replace the bonding and connection that comes from in-person contact. So, insomuch as geography permits, have a regular schedule for getting your hybrid team together.

When working in a hybrid environment, be sure to routinely bring individual teams together physically, whether that’s weekly or monthly. This will help foster stronger bonds that support improved performance and engagement.

It’s also important to bring broader teams together and not just smaller teams comprising individuals who work together day to day. By holding broader company-wide events, you’ll nurture stronger relationships that cross departments and reach across every level of your org chart.

Naturally, how often you can get everyone together depends on location. But always be sure to make in-person contact a central part of your hybrid thinking.

# 6 Make the Most of Time in the Office

This one may seem obvious on the surface. I mean, you shouldn’t make the most of all time in the office? Well, yes. But in a hybrid environment, there’s an extra level of focus needed on how office-based time is used.

Due to the inherent nature of a hybrid environment, office-based time is more scarce. Team leaders, project owners and key staff may not often be all in one place all of the time. So, it’s important to make the most of the occasions they are by scheduling key tasks when they are.

For example, capitalize on in-office time by scheduling meetings that would be best done face-to-face, or project-based work that requires in-person collaboration. Again, so much can be done remotely these days, but sometimes there is no substitute for physical time together

Why the Future of Work Will be Hybrid

With the remote infrastructure and habits honed during the COVID pandemic, hybrid work is primed to become the default work model for many companies.

Beyond supporting both employee and leaders’ work preferences, hybrid work can help reduce office space, reduce overheads, minimize travel times, and more.

But doing hybrid work effectively takes strategic effort, constant assessment and a willingness to be flexible. By implementing some – or all – of the tips above, you’ll position your hybrid team well for future success.

The post The 6 Must Do’s to Make Hybrid Work Effective in 2022 appeared first on Home Business Magazine.

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