Tips for managing a hybrid workforce
The popularity of hybrid work and being a hybrid leader has only grown over the past few years. This is not a traditional way of leading, and just as employees are still learning to adjust, so are leaders.
Putting it simply, a hybrid leader leads individuals that work in a hybrid working model.
Does this take a different skill set? Well yes and no, one should still possess the qualities it takes to be a leader; however, those need to be adapted.
Here are some tips that may assist in leading a hybrid work environment:
Empower employees to be accountable
Leaders should empower employees to be accountable for their production outcomes while providing them with manageable workloads. They should regularly check in with employees on any feedback, restrictions, or delays in production, and offer support to employees.
Foster diversity and inclusion
Leaders need to take time to develop an identity for their new hybrid workforce by creating an inclusive workplace. Along with the team, define each person’s purpose and goals, and discuss processes and how decisions are being made with a team.
A leader needs to ensure that all employees are feeling included and that their contributions to the teams are valued. They can achieve this by providing a psychologically safe working environment, where remote as well as in-office team members feel safe to share any concerns or frustrations.
It is important to create a team culture that is inclusive of all employees. Connect employees, and as a leader support and encourage them to contribute and be productive in creating a culture.
Build trust and collaboration
Gone are the days when leaders had the advantage of building trust throughout the day in the office environment. Leaders now have to build up trust between employees while managing a hybrid team. This means now, trust must be built virtually. This can be done by being reliable, accepting, open, and authentic to employees.
To have trust in a team, a hybrid leader needs to respect their team members and treat everyone equally and fairly. Research shows that meeting people in person develops trust a lot faster. A hybrid leader must try and create an event that all the individuals should attend regularly. This would depend on the hybrid work model. Team building of any kind helps to build trust.
Engage with teams
When working in a hybrid work model, it is not easy to always engage. Physical distance should not mean emotional distance.
On a day-to-day basis, leaders need to engage with other leaders, upper management, and other teams within the organisation to collaborate on the needs of the business. A leader needs to consider their own team networking within the organisation, and the ability to collaborate and share ideas, whilst remaining visible but working remotely.
Encourage adaptability and problem-solving
The reality of the new way of work is things change! It is vital that a leader as well as employees understand that and are well-equipped to deal with any problems that may arise from change.
The ability of employees to adapt and thrive in a new situation is crucial to the success of a hybrid work model. Leaders need to inform employees of any problems that may arise, and how they are going to be tackled. This can be done by connecting with top management, other leaders, and team members and adopting a team problem-solving approach. Involving others in finding a solution to common problems encourages ownership of the outcome.
Connect and communicate across a variety of channels
The communication channels selected will be dependent on the hybrid work model and the style of leadership a leader displays.
Traditionally, harder tasks like team collaboration, building team culture, managing conflicts, and solving complex problems were better done in person. In recent years, and with the constant improvement in technology, this can now be done virtually with the same success or outcomes.
The challenge comes in by communicating effectively in-office and with remote employees, as there will always be some conversations that remote employees will not be a part of. It is the responsibility of a leader to create that sort of chit-chat with remote employees too.
Drive focus without close monitoring
When leading a hybrid team, leaders need to set clear goals, priorities and deliverables for their team members and closely monitor their progress.
For a leader to be accountable to their team members, they would need to continually check in on an employee’s progress and provide support and feedback if the employee is falling behind.
Leaders can foster commitment and productivity by appreciating the employees’ efforts and reminding them of the value they bring to the team.
Consider the effects of remote work on an employee’s wellbeing
A hybrid or remote working environment might not be the best for every employee, as an employee who is working remotely might feel that they need to work harder to prove they are contributing to the team as they are out of sight of a leader. An employee who is working in the office might feel the same, but this time because they are within sight of a leader.
This constant strive to work harder to ‘prove’ oneself is leading to increased stress in employees. A continual state of stress in the body will lead to burnout for the employee.
A leader needs to be in touch with employees, and continually check in to see how they are feeling, and if they are managing their workloads.
Managing a hybrid workforce factors in many considerations when leading a hybrid team, possible considerations that might not have had such a large impact when working in an office. Creating a diverse, trusting, engaging workplace for employees, no matter where they work is one of the top skills a leader can have.