Managing remote employees can be tricky, but it’s possible to overcome the challenges inherent in the hybrid workplace. Hybrid work plans, which combine in-office and remote work, are becoming increasingly popular as employees seek a balance between both models. Hybrid work plans give employees the opportunity to interact with one another in the office while providing the flexibility to work from home.
However, it’s important to understand that a hybrid work plan may not be the most effective for all companies. According to a survey by Owl Labs, 16% of global employees are working remotely, while 62% work a hybrid schedule.
It’s therefore important for HR professionals, managers, and employees to be attuned to the signs a hybrid model isn’t working and take steps to address the issues that may arise. If these problems aren’t resolved, the hybrid work plan may not meet all employees’ needs and may not achieve the desired outcomes.
Signs That Your Hybrid Work Plan Isn’t Working
- Communication breakdowns: A common issue in hybrid work environments is the breakdown in communication. This can occur when some employees are in the office and others are working remotely, leading to a disconnect among team members. In some instances, this results in missed deadlines, miscommunications, and unclear expectations around responsibilities and tasks.
- Lack of support for remote workers: Another issue that can arise in hybrid work environments is a lack of support for remote workers. This can include inadequate training and resources for working remotely and a lack of opportunities for remote employees to connect with their colleagues and managers.
- Difficulty in collaborating across different locations: Hybrid work environments can also make it more challenging for employees to collaborate and work together effectively. This can be due to differences in time zones, technological issues, or a lack of in-person interactions.
- Decreased productivity: If a hybrid work plan isn’t effective, it can lead to decreased productivity as a result of any of the above issues or additional problems, such as a lack of structure or support in the framework of the new workplace.
- Negative impacts on work/life balance: Finally, a hybrid work plan that isn’t working can also have a negative impact on employees’ work/life balance, such as when employees feel pressure to be available at all times or when they struggle to separate their work and personal lives while working from home.
- Key employees leaving the company: Employers may face challenging situations when key employees receive competitive job offers that provide the option of full-time remote work, which could potentially give those employees more benefits.
- Two workplaces become necessary: The hybrid work schedule can significantly impact employees’ creativity and productivity due to their need for two distinct workspaces. This calls for the proper setup of both environments to ensure employees can stay productive while working both from home and in the office.
- Teams becoming disconnected: With the rise in requests for flexible working arrangements, employers are left wondering how to keep their teams connected. It’s important to consider the productivity of remote days and the impact longer periods away from colleagues can have on workplace morale and collaboration.
Strategies for Managing Your Hybrid Work Plan
- Set clear communication guidelines. A key way to address issues with communication in a hybrid work environment is to establish clear guidelines for it. This can include setting expectations for response times, establishing a schedule for team meetings and check-ins, and using tools to stay organized and on track, such as project management software.
- Implement tools and technology to facilitate remote work. Another important step is to ensure remote workers have the tools and technology they need to work effectively when away from the office. This includes providing high-functioning laptops, necessary software access, and reliable Internet connectivity.
- Provide training and support for remote workers. It’s also important to provide training and support for remote workers so they have the skills and resources they need to be successful in their roles. This can include training on how to use remote work tools and technology and opportunities for remote workers to connect with their colleagues and managers online.
- Establish a culture of trust and accountability. A key component of a successful hybrid work environment is a culture of trust and accountability. This means setting clear expectations for performance, providing regular feedback, and holding all employees accountable for meeting their responsibilities.
- Encourage open communication and collaboration. It’s important to encourage open communication and collaboration among all team members, regardless of location. This can be achieved through regular check-ins and team meetings, as well as through the use of tools like videoconferencing and collaboration software.
- Ensure employees feel trusted and respected. To ensure all employees feel respected, organizations must consider creating allowances for everyone to access hybrid working arrangements or even separate ones that are tailored specifically to each department based on their needs. By taking such measures, employers will be able to foster a fair and productive environment where every employee feels valued regardless of how they choose to approach their duties.
- Have a set schedule. To ensure a smooth transition between office and home working, employers should have a set schedule to help curb any potential disruptions. Instead of Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday in the office, why not consider having Monday and Tuesday there? This way, employees can settle into their new routine without disruption throughout the week.
- Boost employee engagement. To keep morale and productivity high in the new hybrid work schedule, employers can assign a fun club team that creates cultural activities virtually and in real life. Working in the “new normal” doesn’t have to be dull or uninspiring. Employers should embrace hybrid work with an added dose of fun! Appointing a “fun club” within your team can help create an online and an offline culture, building an engaging environment for everyone involved.
- Ensure policies are up to date. Above all, make sure your employee handbook is current. Updating policies and procedures for a hybrid office is crucial. The handbook should clearly state, in writing, newly formed work-from-home and hybrid working conditions, schedules, and processes to obey.
Jennifer Morehead is the CEO of Flex HR as well as an entrepreneur, sales and marketing expert, and an independent board member. She is also the co-author of Make Your Business Social and the author of CEO From Home. Based in the Metro Atlanta area, Flex HR is a full-service HR consuluting, outsourcing, and recruiting solutions provider.