When the pandemic ends, will your team stay part remote? Here’s how to make a hybrid workplace a big success.
November 5, 2020 5 min read
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The coronavirus pandemic has us all in a reset mode and it’s giving companies, leaders, and employees the chance to redefine their workplace and opt for a new normal.
As more and more leaders see their teams thrive during remote work, many are considering a hybrid workplace moving forward — giving employees a mix of working virtually and meeting together in a traditional office environment.
Just like any other workplace, the hybrid model can fail if it isn’t set up and maintained properly. If you’re considering this model for your own team, use these three tips to ensure your new normal is one that’s healthy for everyone.
Take it slow
As counterintuitive as it might seem, one of the best things you can do in times of uncertainty such as redefining your workplace is to slow down. Slowing down both mentally and physically provides the necessary perspective it takes to formulate a clear action plan forward.
Use your slow-down time to reflect on your current business model, team structure, processes, and more. Use a simple framework like the SWOT analysis or a “T-Chart” to evaluate what is working, identify what isn’t, and create a step-by-step plan to transform accordingly.
Focus on what you can control
As a leader, so much is out of your power right now. Focus on what you can control in both your personal and professional life and create structure around those items. Encourage your employees to do the same as you lead by example:
Personal structure: Create stability day-to-day with a solid morning and night routine. Consistently starting and ending your day the same way will free up your mental energy to focus on the parts of your day that will fluctuate within a hybrid workplace.
Team structure: One simple way you can build structure for your team is to identify the “who, what, and when” of every virtual meeting. For a hybrid workplace to be successful, all remote workers — c-suite executives to entry-level team members — deserve to know (in advance) when they’re expected on camera. If you can cut down on the amount of meetings you hold, do so. Those quick status check-ins can be phone calls or a few messages on an online chat app like Slack; not every meeting requires video conferencing (#ZoomFatigueIsReal).
Employee structure: Encourage hybrid team members to create structure around their schedule; ask them to plan for and communicate when they’ll be in office, in the field, or at home. As those schedules are built, remind them of the benefits that consistency provides for their own well-being and for the health of the company.
Related: Managing A Hybrid Workforce
Create a supportive environment
As you move toward a hybrid workplace model, keep in mind that the needs of your team will vary from one person to the next. For example, some will need more flexibility to be able to care for their children, others will need more structure to stay on track. Creating a supportive environment requires that you be willing to give each team member what they need to succeed.
So, how are your employees really doing? Do you know what they need or want? If you’re unsure, meet with each person and ask personalized, open-ended “what” and “how” questions. Ask questions like:
How do you manage distractions?
What obstacles are you encountering?
What do you need to be successful?
How is that important to you?
Make sure you listen deeply to show you understand and respect how they view the world. By meeting each person where they are and navigating the conversation authentically, your team members will feel heard and seen. When they know they can trust you, they’re more likely to open up about what they need to create more work-life harmony within the hybrid workplace model.
Related: What Is the Real Future of Work?
Keep communication lines open
Open communication is crucial to keeping your team engaged as your company settles into its new normal. Make sure you keep your end of the deal when it comes to that open communication. Be as candid and honest with your team as possible on your expectations of them and don’t make any promises you can’t keep. The future is still uncertain; even right now, local, state, and national responses to COVID-19 are ever-changing. Embrace open communication during this time and welcome it back from your team.
As you plan for and kick off your new normal, remember that each step you take toward a healthy hybrid workplace is just one in an ongoing journey of transition and transformation.