Four Practical Steps To Beat Hybrid Workplace Challenges
The hybrid workplace has grown as companies continue to adapt to an ever-changing business landscape. Companies have been forced to face new challenges and adapt their mindset to meet challenging times. Those who face these challenges with creativity will find themselves in a strong position moving forward. The biggest bottleneck is leaders who are stuck in the past. They refuse to accept that business has changed. The workforce is resisting that old way of working and forcing a transition to a hybrid workplace. What we’re seeing is all highly-skilled employees flocking to companies that embrace a hybrid workplace model. Leaders are left scratching their heads as their top talent moves toward the future. With that said, there are hybrid workplace challenges that should be taken into account. Let’s take a close look at them.
Hybrid Workplace Challenges To Overcome
Running A Hybrid Workplace Is Complex
Merging in-office employees with remote workers is a challenging prospect. These two groups have to work as a team. Getting them together for meetings and assigning tasks can become quite complex. Hybrid teams require a ton of flexibility in order to thrive. Employees working from home have a routine that they follow. This routine might be different for each employee. What’s important is that they are being productive, so companies should be flexible in this regard.
Additionally, leadership is also a complex challenge when it comes to hybrid teams. It’s difficult to get in-office workers and at-home employees to work efficiently as a team. Leaders are advised to develop methods of accountability within the team to make sure everyone is pulling their weight. This means improving employee-to-employee accountability.
Proximity Bias Is An Underlying Sentiment
In-office employees tend to receive better feedback, communication, and more opportunities for promotion than remote workers. This leads to a challenge known as proximity bias. If left unchecked, proximity bias creates a wedge between in-office workers and at-home employees. Perception is everything. It doesn’t matter whether or not proximity bias is actually happening. Remote workers will perceive it simply because they are not in the office. This condition festers resentment because remote workers believe they are receiving unfair treatment. This is just one side of the coin too. In-office employees might perceive that remote workers have it easier. Addressing proximity bias is one method that leaders can use to avoid a toxic work environment.
Cracks Form In The Hybrid Workplace
The foundation of hybrid teams is quite fragile. Without sound processes in place, it will develop cracks. This is why some hybrid teams work well in the beginning but struggle over time. Companies can empower their hybrid teams by laying out a fundamental plan that guides everyone forward. Another area where we see cracks formed is with onboarding. When hiring new workers onto a hybrid team, have them shadow employees in the office so that they understand the underlying culture. Of course, this isn’t possible with onboarding remote workers so leaders need to acknowledge this. This is one of the most difficult challenges faced with building hybrid teams.
Build A Successful Hybrid Team By Following These 4 Tips
We’ve explored the challenges of a hybrid workplace so now let’s look at some steps that leaders can take to make their hybrid teams more efficient. Leaders need to approach this with a different mindset. Leading a hybrid team requires more time commitment, which is a challenge since leaders tend to already be short on time. The effort is worth the reward though, so here are some of the necessary steps for leading a successful hybrid workplace.
1. One-On-One Communication Is Essential
Check in with workers in a one-on-one setting to make sure they’re okay. Ask for their feedback on improvements in the workflow and answer any questions they might have regarding their job. Then listen carefully and acknowledge their thoughts. That way, workers don’t feel as if they’re being left out of important decisions. Remote workers need one-on-one communication at least once a week, sometimes more. Don’t limit communication to work-related items either. Talking about topics that are unrelated to work also builds a connection and keeps workers from becoming narrow-minded.
2. Don’t Neglect Remote Workers
Promptly answer communications with remote employees so they feel like they’re in the loop. Being neglectful will trigger the perception of bias in remote workers. Look at it from their perspective. Their in-office colleagues have access to leaders anytime they want. Remote workers are at the mercy of emails and phone calls. They want to feel like they have the same access to leaders as their in-office colleagues.
3. Occasionally Refocus The Team’s Purpose
It’s easy for remote workers to get so focused on their individual projects that they lose the perspective of the team. While in-person employees have direct access to office culture, remote workers don’t have a way to keep themselves anchored to the team. One solution to preventing this issue is to refocus the team’s purpose from time to time. This keeps remote workers from getting locked into specific tasks and losing sight of the overall purpose. It’s also a great idea to share team wins and create virtual leaderboards to give remote workers access to the same data as their in-house counterparts.
4. Utilize Collaboration Tools
Teamwork within hybrid teams can be slightly complex so it’s important to equip these teams with collaboration tools. Create a shared environment that allows in-house employees and remote workers to check the status of assignments. At the very least, you need an online bulletin board and project management tools to keep them on track. Of course, you can add more tools as needed. The key is to use technology to make it easy for members of the hybrid team to work together. These tools reinforce a teamwork mentality and remind everyone that they are dependent on each other.
Following these tips will help reduce the inherent cracks that form in a hybrid workplace. The most important factor is communication. Fostering accountability within the team will make them stronger but it’s your job to give them the tools to achieve this.
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