How to Succeed in a Hybrid Workplace
In this blog I will answer some questions that are widely concerning managers today as we prepare for the new way of working. Surely the 40 hours a day in an office 5/6 times a week is now a choice rather than something that is forced upon us. Maybe, maybe not! In this blog we will explore why in some cases this will work and in other cases it won’t and provide a few tips on how to succeed in a hybrid workplace.
Firstly, let’s explore company culture. What is culture and why is everyone talking up its importance? In my view and to put it simply, it’s essentially the beliefs, values and behaviours company leaders promote as to how employees and managers interact with each other. It defines how the business cares for each of their employees, and in turn they will care for the business and work harder to complete the company’s objectives.
Let me take you back to that fateful day we were all advised by our government’s to work from home where possible. The anxiety of change rushing through the majority of us was pretty common for some and a burst of delight for those of us with long commutes. No one would have guessed 18 months on we would still be working from home. Now as Management prepares for the next steps anxiety of change is once again returning, as a return to the office is upon us.
Popular hybrid models being considered:
A hybrid model of 3 days on 2 off one week and 2 on 3 off the following week seems to be the favoured approach amongst multinationals, SMEs etc. Will this approach be the silver bullet to the new norm and allow employee’s the flexibility we will all crave. In order for it to work a few things need to be considered in order to maintain culture.
Firstly, productivity. I speak with hiring managers every day and bring up the topic of productivity more often than not. How has the last 18 months compared to the previous 18 months? I usually get a mixed response. From those whose work load is up but productivity is down, they expect a full return to the office when given the green light to, 40 hours in the office and no hybrid as it didn’t work.
Of course I speak with people where productivity is either maintained or in fact got better. These companies consider hybrid and in some cases fully remote options.
So how do we improve productivity?
Set daily or weekly goals that tie into their objectives – review once a week.
Check with the employee if they have a comfortable place to work
Help them root out sources of distractions and how to deal with them
Ensure their equipment works and if not direct them towards help
Coach them on time management and self-organisation –understand why objectives are not being met, why productivity is down. Are employee’s spending too long on tasks? Do they feel comfortable calling or video conferencing a colleague? Remember it was commonplace for someone to walk over to a desk and seek an answer, are they still seeking help?
With productivity there is generally an answer. Explore the above and see if you can find the missing link.
Motivation and Energy
If you get the culture right, motivation is so much easier. They mould beautifully together. A motivated employee is a happy one and wants to perform. This along with a rewards system are important now as they have always been.
The last 18 months has shown that general happiness with remote working is mainly led by work-life balance. There is not as much work place drama and in general people are happier.
Below are a few tips to maintain motivation as well and driving energy to increase productivity and culture in general:
Celebrate the wins – just because you’re not in the office doesn’t mean you shouldn’t celebrate like you would have before. Shout about success!
Invite employees to collaborate and contribute in overall company conversations – for example give people the authority to write blogs on their socials on behalf of the company (if that’s something they’re happy to be ).
Bring employees in on the conversation around incentives, nights out (zoom parties), bonding days etc. Give everyone a say.
Communication is so important, remote working. In the case of some employees it can be quite isolating as they no longer have a peer to walk over to and ask questions or interact. It’s important to break that isolation up as often as possible.
Managers should make it clear they are always available, similar to the old saying “my door is always open” now it's “my phone is always on”. Management needs to be approachable.
Along with this it is crucial to have those peer-to-peer conversations. They need those 10 minute, water cooler gossip because it’s important for people to talk about both about work and about other stuff to harness workplace friendships. It also allows people to disagree and have that moment of conflict that won’t result in some mad unnecessary feud.
Below are a few tips to try ensuring communication remains effective:
Set up team meetings, maybe 2-3 times a week. There is a fine line between communication and micro management. So perhaps have meetings arranged that only involve the team so the manager is absent.
Try to focus on individuals where possible, in group settings like face to face meetings, people hide and hope to go unnoticed. Perhaps they are happier in smaller groups or individual meetings. Be observant of those and plan accordingly.
Great a buddy system and get them talking once or twice a day. Generally someone with experience who can mentor someone in training or new to the business.
The reality of remote working is that productivity needs to be measured and monitored a lot more than before. This is not a trust issue but more a way to measure performance and reward accordingly.
Technology and data have a fantastic way of understanding both strengths and weaknesses. In the office you can see and hear people working. At home you can’t, you need to trust an employee is doing as they have been directed. So using data as a guide you can take the emotion out of it and reward, guide, train or reprimand as appropriate.
Teamwork only works if everyone is playing their part. So we need to insure no one is holding anyone back and train those who are finding things difficult. Technology is not there to beat people with a stick, it’s there to identify gaps and fill them.
Below are a few tips to assist you in choosing the right technology:
Choose a product that can track the operational performance of an individual
Have collaborative tools to help communicate effortlessly
Be transparent with the data, it’s there to help remember
Be able to share data
Today’s workplace is very up in the air, as government restrictions remain in place it’s hard to know what will happen but we can plan and we can open up the discussion with everyone to assess their situation and get used to the idea of coming into the office again.
Growth in a hybrid model remains a challenge. What I am noticing as a recruitment executive is that sourcing and attracting talent is harder than ever before. Salaries are going up and progress is stalling in companies because they can’t fill those stubborn hard to fill engineering roles.
Well we at GemPool don’t have any magic sauce but we are good at attracting talent even in the worst markets. So do reach out if you are experiencing difficulties in securing an excellent talent pool. You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can have a chat.