Managing a Hybrid Workplace

10 min. read

Many employees are finding working from home a better choice, so how do you manage a hybrid workplace and still make it a great place to work?

2020 began a monumental shift in the way we work. Everything changed fast. Our daily work lives went from what we thought of as normal to a scenario that would have been unthinkable previously. Commutes were slashed. Office life was disrupted and in some cases ended forever. The new normal emerged and with it, new challenges arose that had never been an issue before because it was a whole new way of life and business. Almost half the working population in America was working from home full-time in the summer of 2020. 42 percent of the labor force went from face-to-face meetings and moved to new technologies to connect with clients, customers, and colleagues.


Many have settled into a hybrid workplace scenario and many businesses seem set to stay that way for the future. 72 percent of companies anticipated that employees will want to remain working from home, even once the organization returns to the office.


How do you manage a hybrid workplace and make it a great place to work? New challenges in managing teams have presented themselves. New ways of working bring new problems and getting a team to seamlessly bond in an effective manner isn’t easy at the best of times.


Training and onboarding


Leaders across many different industries during this difficult time have raised new worries. The great resignation is in full swing. Getting new staff to jump on board and take the ride with you is not as easy as it once was. On top of this, younger folks have not had the experience of being at work in an office environment for long. Many have been working from home over the pandemic. Working alone isolated from mentors or in-person training has a knock-on effect. Working this way over the past few years has led to bad habits for many employees and managers.


When you do something a certain way it can stick. You get used to it. It is a pattern of behavior and this can get ingrained in a person. Trying to break bad habits is a difficult and sometimes impossible task. As a manager, you have to make sure your team members value their customers and other members of the staff. Disrespectful communication and problems interacting can worm their way into the culture if you don’t keep an eye on it. Making sure they know how to interact on a professional level is key to making your organization a great place to work.


Communication skills


Younger team members are more used to instant messaging and group message protocols. Older folks tend to send emails and getting bogged in an email chain of multiple short messages can be a nightmare if you are looking for a particular piece of information.


How to speak to customers and team members in person and on the phone is not only necessary it is imperative. Miscommunication costs companies with 100 employees and above an average of $420,000 per year.


Communication is broken down when things are not understood. If the team communicates and misunderstandings occur then it won’t be a great place to work. It will be frustrating and irritating.


Space


The fact that people no longer have to work together under one roof has meant that the hybrid workspace has taken over to a large extent. Despite the fact that you can go out to a restaurant or bar without having to wear a mask or show vaccination proof in many place, the pandemic is still not over. Many restrictions have been lifted and it seems that we're definitely trending in the right direction. However, more and more folks are choosing to work from home rather than commute into an office space crowded with other people and sharing the same air and space with them.


Breathing in air that could make you sick is now on people's minds when they consider getting into a packed elevator and whizzing up a skyscraper or entering campus or a compound. With no mask on you could be putting yourself and the people you care about in danger. Your health is important. As you get older and priorities shift many traders and managers would rather work virtually. Due to the pandemic, when you are in the office many meetings are still done virtually even if you are all on the same floor. You are spread out into different cubicles and offices rather than in one small meeting venue. You could have done this from home and saved the commute and time for everyone concerned.


The thinking is, "Why put yourself through a time-consuming process of getting to work and then feeling unsafe when you arrive?" If you can get the same thing done in a fraction of the time and in a far less stressful manner why would you stop working from home?


Productivity


Being a manager of a great place to work means you create a work environment that is considered to be above average. You need to make your workforce feel as though they matter and that their production is important. This means you support them to get the most out of them.


71 percent of businesses in the US and Europe said they’d witnessed negative impacts from their team working from home. A reduction in productivity, difficulty in maintaining the work/life balance, and difficulty in assessing accountability. You have to manage your teams effectively. A remote team is not as simple to access in some ways. Yes, you can’t just walk into their office, but it can be beneficial in other ways. Communication is the tool that will make the difference.


When it comes to meetings, time is valuable. Having a meeting about having another meeting about a project is not conducive to great production.


Ask yourself if this is important enough to have to meet at all. If the answer is yes then consider if it requires any face-to-face time. Do you need to meet physically? For instance, if you had to demonstrate a safety briefing for a mechanical device or something that actually requires a physical presence. If it can be virtual, ask yourself who needs to take the time out to have the meeting and why.


TOP TIP


Use a traffic light system to decide whether the meeting is necessary. Green means yes you most definitely need a meeting, Amber will give some folks the choice to opt-in or out and a red will mean forget it, let’s figure out another way to do this.


Using a system like the traffic light system can improve productivity by freeing up time your team members could be using more constructively.


Managing a hybrid workplace is not easy but if you get the balance right you could be in an excellent position to boost productivity and grow a team of people that excel. Being in the driver's seat of a great place to work takes time and effort but when it comes down to it there isn’t anything more important right now than getting everyone to pull together.