Since the spring of 2020, the world has been grappling with changes associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. Organizations have since relied on remote work models to continue with workplace processes safely.
Now that returning to the physical office is possible, some individuals have returned to on-site work structures. However, the continued threat of the virus and its developing variants has many feeling uncomfortable with coming back into the office. Therefore, some organizations are turning to hybrid workplace arrangements to provide extra flexibility, with data suggesting that 71% of hybrid employees work from home two or more days per week.
These adjustments continue to challenge leaders to grow in how they might lead distributed teams. On the Survive and Thrive podcast, experts discuss methods for practicing successful leadership and managing change in today’s workplace settings. Below are four tips experts have shared to help lead hybrid teams with success.
1. Encourage Positive Mental Health
As a leader, your job demands that you focus on making the best decisions to support your organization’s success. First, however, you must remember that COVID-19 changed many factors of people’s personal lives. For example, changes in transportation available to and from work, problems with accessing childcare, and other difficult circumstances which have occurred due to the pandemic; not to mention personal loss. With so many things to juggle in their personal lives, even your hardest-working staff members may fall victim to poor mental health.
To avoid the likelihood of your staff experiencing these struggles, consider how you might encourage positive mental health practices. For example, allowing your employees to choose what days they work from home could help to alleviate some of their burdens caused by COVID-19, and help them to stay focused on their job responsibilities. Additionally, leadership can educate themselves on the visible and performative signs of employee burnout and methods for alleviating its effects.
When leading hybrid teams, you will need to ensure you’re connecting regularly with staff in one-on-one sessions and checking in on how they are personally, and what you can do to help. Promoting a positive relationship and helping them feel comfortable coming to you to work together to develop practical solutions is a key part of making this new work model possible. In addition, by fostering healthy and open communication with your workers, you can stay on the same page about workplace strategies, maintain productivity, and keep your operations running.
2. Adjust Your Meeting Methods
While the pandemic has been challenging, we are fortunate to have technology that has provided significant advantages for navigating the world during this time. This is especially true when it comes to digital tools for organizations and workforces to support meetings virtually.
Before the pandemic, teams often relied on meetings and conferences to cohesively carry out their job responsibilities. Making contact could allow staff to address essential topics, facilitate collaborative processes, and train new staff members. This can all still occur through digital technology, not only keeping people safe and socially distanced but also supporting more flexible work arrangements.
With digital meeting tools, leaders can easily connect and communicate with their staff, no matter where they work. In addition, digital communication tools can allow groups and individuals to meet remotely. While Zoom was one platform that gained popularity in the pandemic, connecting through virtual meeting tools may not always be the most effective method, as a study reflected that 38% of participants feel exhausted after daily virtual meetings. There are many other tools available to support remote and hybrid work environments. Irrespective of what communication technology you choose, ensure you set meeting norms and standards. These are essentially “rules of engagement” to develop a common understanding of what necessitates a meeting and how your organization views the means of holding a productive meeting. This will make for more productive meetings and also help reduce the amount of meeting time, both of which are contributors to a positive employee experience.
3. Take Advantage of Workplace Technology
Another way leaders can take advantage of modern technology is by using workplace software. This software has been in development long before the pandemic, and now almost all systems have features to help remote and hybrid individuals maintain productivity.
With the help of workplace technology and software tools, organizations can communicate, collaborate, and stay on track of important workplace processes. Technology is increasingly a big driver, not only enabling how distributed teams work together, but also in the way organizations shape culture and the overall employee experience. For example, consider Lluna, a technology platform supporting workplace flexibility or Friday, whose platform enables a digital headquarters for company communications.
It’s important to remember that purchasing technology will not be the main catalyst in shaping a positive hybrid workplace experience. You’ll need to intentionally change behavior around how work will get done, and what tools and technology will support people in making these changes. People and process evolution will be just as essential as selecting and adopting any of these new technologies. Start by identifying what challenges you are trying to solve to improve the hybrid work experience, who will lead this change and what types of solutions you will consider before striking out to purchase new technology. Empower the leader you select to not only evaluate and select the technology but also to design the operations around it.
4. Make Accommodations When Possible
It is easy to feel discouraged by all of the pandemic’s changes. But while the idea of allowing hybrid work structures may seem stressful now, making structural accommodations for your staff may benefit your organization in the long run.
Digital processes have been gaining popularity since long before the pandemic. In addition, our current dependence on technology for remote work and schooling has further encouraged the mass adaptation of digital tools in professional environments. According to a recent report, 96% of leaders report that the Covid-19 pandemic will accelerate their digital transformation by an average of 5.3 years. Therefore, by providing hybrid work accommodations for your employees now, you can better prepare your team for the technological changes that are likely to occur in the future.
Accommodations for staff can also lead to higher retention levels, as workers are likely to appreciate that their health and needs are considered. Furthermore, communication is essential for work teams, so providing more digital options for preferred communication methods may help them feel understood and valued regardless of their working location. Making accommodations for your staff can be a beneficial adjustment for your team’s performance and morale, and an excellent opportunity to familiarize your team with digital tools and software.
If you’d like to discuss how to make hybrid work arrangements more viable for your organization, schedule a free session with us here. We’re working with clients today who have navigated this transformation and have practical, proven approaches to realize success.