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Remote work skyrocketed once the pandemic hit. Many employees were instructed to work from home to maintain the health and safety of themselves and those around them. Since then, many businesses have decided to keep part time remote work as it was discovered that employees were just as productive, if not more, from home.
Depending on the field and position, some jobs are done completely remote or completely in office, with some having the option of a hybrid role. The hybrid role is when some days are spent working in the office, while others are spent working from home. To manage your team in a hybrid capacity, it is crucial to utilize multiple tactics to ensure work is continuing to be completed.
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1. Communicate effectively online
Communicating online is important to keep lines of communication open and welcoming for you and your staff. Choose select programs to stay connected such as email, Slack, or Trello. Some companies have “watercooler chats” where each remote employee is a part of. This can be a great way to stay in touch with your coworkers. Ice breaker questions can be used to get everyone chatting and getting to know one another better.
To maintain effective communication, it also helps to set how often you should be checking in. Some leaders have found it helpful to ask their employees to answer emails within 24 hours as this allows enough time for the employee to answer. This sets an expectation to avoid correspondences going unanswered for days or weeks at a time.
2. Encourage offline interactions
We as humans naturally crave social interaction. This can make feelings of loneliness increase when working from home. Hosting gatherings for you and your employees gives everyone a chance to socialize and strengthen bonds. These interactions could be visiting an escape room to encourage working as a team, or enjoying a relaxing dinner.
3. Meet often
When employees work remotely, it is important to meet regularly via programs such as zoom to stay updated. This gives the employees time to voice any issues or concerns as well as share innovative ideas. As a leader, it is important to know all of your staff as everyone’s voice is valuable and should be heard. Hosting regular meetings with these employees will help build your relationship and trust.
4. Set your expectations
When working in a home environment outside of the traditional workspace, it can be difficult to stay on task. Sharing your expectations with your staff will ensure you are on the same wavelength and sets a guideline for achieving their goals. Setting deadlines or objectives will give your employee something to work towards and allow them to manage their time accordingly. Achieving their milestones will give them the satisfaction and encouragement to continue productivity and personal growth.
5. Adapt flexibility
This hybrid position is becoming increasingly common in the workforce. Flexibility is highly desired from employees to get the work done outside of normal business hours. By leaving room for flexibility, it accommodates staff to work around their own schedule that could include school schedules, caregiving, or even exercising.
6. Redefine success
Practice and norms should be adapted to specifically fit remote or hybrid work to support growth and development. When an employee is working a hybrid or remote position, their success should be seen through the outcomes as opposed to time spent working.
Having a connection with your team is essential for any business to thrive. These connections allow you to work well with and trust your coworkers. It is all too easy to befriend people who are similar to yourself, but learning and growing as individuals requires stepping outside of the box. Reaching out to new people, like someone who just started the job or someone you have always been meaning to talk to, allows you to build a relationship and expand your network.
8. Pay attention
When working in person, it is usually easy to detect someone’s emotions or thoughts from facial expressions, hand gestures, or body movements. This can be difficult to notice over a camera and can be easily missed. Ensure to pay close attention to your staff to pick up on any subtle clues. When noticing their body language or facial expressions, you can find out what they think about what is being said and get a good understanding of what they are experiencing. Doing so will help strengthen the trust and bond between you and your team.
Leading employees in a remote or hybrid capacity can be daunting. When you do not see an employee every day, you may wonder how their projects are going and if they need any support. Some ways to help adapt to this new way of working includes:
- Working with your team to create expectations. These expectations could be email response expectations, the use of communication programs, and goals that the team is aiming to achieve.
- Ensure you have an open door policy to allow your employees to feel safe coming to you with questions, concerns, or even just to check-in.
- Conduct regular surveys to get the opinions of your team. This could be something they think is going well, or something that needs work.
This type of workplace allows employees to gain flexibility, which in turn increases productivity and overall job satisfaction. Hybrid and remote positions are becoming increasingly popular as it gives the staff member the opportunity to work when and where they prefer while still completing their work. Without taking into consideration the points above, organizations lose out on productivity gains and experience higher rates of turnover. Companies that capitalize on the rapidly changing work environment will notice an advantage as this has become the new norm.