by: Margaret Wood 6/29/2021
The human cost of working remotely
Managing and being managed remotely comes with unique challenges. For managers, keeping a hybrid workforce of remote and in-house teams engaged and productive can be very demanding. And for remote workers, adapting to the new mindset and dealing with the isolation from their teams becomes one of their biggest challenges. This is wherecoaching companies can help business leaders optimize their roles through personalized coaching solutions in leadership development for hybrid workforces; our coaching is tailored to meet individual goals for the betterment of your organizations.
Even under pre-pandemic working conditions, cultivating a positive culture was challenging enough. Managers had to learn to navigate the hybrid workforce scenario’s nuances quickly; they had to learn practical new team management strategies. Moreover, creating and maintaining a productive workplace that addresses both the company and individual needs requires an unwavering commitment.
Working remotely is subject to many distractions, from personal phone calls to kids, pets, and even other family members. But for those who live alone, the isolation can be overwhelming.
According to the Harvard Business Review report, loneliness is a significant contributing factor to high stress levels, causing one of the biggest struggles people working remotely have to deal with.
Although being alone is not the only cause of loneliness, it can be a significant contributor. Collaboration, morale, and a sense of belonging can all take a hit. Therefore, as managers and leaders, maintaining a healthy and productive hybrid workforce simultaneously while addressing alienation and disengagement is critical.
Improving productivity and engagement
1. Structure is an essential requirement for both remote and in-person reports; as coaches, we recommend following the guidelines to managing a hybrid workforce. Focus on engagement. These traits can sometimes be challenging to convey remotely and may require some creativity on your part.
- Demonstrate compassion and understanding—take one day at a time; think and plan efficiently.
- Support your team members collectively and individually; acknowledge their skills, expertise, experience, and accomplishments.
- Prioritize outcomes over activity –Results matter; let their work speak for itself.
- Don’t leave your team members in the dark. Discuss your expectations, as well as their career goals, to form a cohesive unit.
- Let them know how you plan to manage projects.
- Be proactive–show support for each person individually. Remember, they are people first.
- Build a strong sense of community
- Through collaboration, you will foster a greater sense of ownership and minimize miscommunication.
- By investing your time and energy in solving that which can be solved, you can help your team stay at peak performance.
- It is equally important to be open, demonstrate understanding, compassion, resilience, and support on both sides of the aisle.
2. Track progress– set clear expectations for the whole hybrid workforce –for each team and team member. For example, have your employees give you a work schedule and tasks they will accomplish and a timeline.
- Encourage independence; cultivate cooperation—this helps individuals cultivate their work-life balance as well as team engagement.
- Set BRIEF (15-30 minute) weekly meetings with your hybrid workforce that they can depend on.
- Individual check-ins
- One-on-one face time can be very beneficial.
- Provide team members with a way to address issues they are not comfortable discussing in a group setting.
3. Recognize efforts
- Encourage multichannel communications.
- Every means of electronic communication has its place.
- Help your hybrid team members understand when it’s appropriate for each one.
- Recognize individual efforts and contributions in a public forum.
- People like to know that their work has merit, which is part of a more significant effort.
- Fostering a sense of community through public recognition is a powerful morale booster.
- Practice patience and empathy—
- Some people adjust more quickly to change than others.
- Develop strategies to best deal with each type of employee.
Gartner TalentNeuron’s™ publication, Do More With Data to Close Critical Skill Gaps, offers some insightful tactics as well:
- Approach skills identification by looking at skills throughout the organization, not
necessarily by individual functions.
- Fill critical skills gaps by leveraging skills adjacencies to guide the upskilling and recruiting of current and potential talent.
- Enable cross-functional talent mobility …
These recommendations are in keeping with the ideology of unifying the hybrid workforce to improve functionality and productivity. Keeping remote teams engaged and productive is not an easy task. By engaging with your hybrid teams and creating inclusivity, you exponentially increase the chances of developing a high level of engagement, which will invariably fall to the bottom line.
According to a survey by the McKinsey group, 100 top executives all agree that the post-pandemic hybrid workforce will be around for a while…perhaps indefinitely. The sustainability of hybrid workforce productivity gains correlates directly to how leaders address employee anxieties. Notably, the survey found that organizations with the most significant productivity increases during the pandemic were directly related to the amount of support and engagement employees received, including shared moments of co-working, mentorship, coaching and idea-sharing.
While willing to embrace a hybrid-modeled workforce, most organizations have only begun to articulate the logistics, develop formidable plans on how to execute a permanent mix of a hybrid workforce, and identify those roles that do not necessarily have to be performed on-site.
Executives believe that as pandemic restrictions ease, the hybrid model—in which employees work both in the office and remotely —will become the norm.