Now more than ever, businesses are dealing with hybrid workforces, if not completely remote teams. Due to the pandemic, nearly all companies have had to work with hybrid workforces at some point, and it’s not always as easy a transition as you’d hope. If you’ve recently transitioned to a hybrid workforce, you may be feeling overwhelmed or unsure how to proceed. When you have some people working in the office and others working from home, you need to have strong leadership skills to ensure both teams are happy and thriving. Here’s everything you need to know about managing a hybrid workforce.
What is a hybrid workforce?
A hybrid workforce is whenever you have both an in-person team and another team of people working remotely. There are specific challenges that come with having two teams working together, but separately, that you’ll need to solve in management. Being aware of these challenges can help you better manage your hybrid teams. Some challenges could be:
- Jealousy that one side gets to work remotely
- Unclear communication between teams
- Coordination issues based on time-zones or working hours
- Slower turnaround time since everything is done virtually
Pros and cons of hybrid workforces
Though it’s clear that hybrid workforces come with their challenges, there are both advantages and disadvantages to hybrid workforces. Before deciding whether hybrid working is right for your company, check out what makes it good and bad:
Pros of hybrid workforces
- You can hire from around the country rather than a small, local pool of people
- You can accommodate better for those with disabilities who may work better from home
- It can be cheaper since you’re lowering your overhead with how many people are in the office
- Employees can be more productive (those who work better in quiet environments get to work from home and those who need structure can safely come to the office)
Cons of hybrid workforces
- Remote workers miss out on team-building activities, like catered lunches or small chit-chat at the office
- Hiring outside of your time zone can mess up your working hours
- Communication is often lacking between remote teams and in-office teams
- Managers are more likely to promote those individuals working in-office because they interact with them more, leading to preferential treatment
- You’ll need to ensure all remote workers have safe wi-fi to prevent your company’s information from being hacked
How to manage a hybrid workforce
When it comes to managing a hybrid workforce, you’ll need to address the specific problems and concerns that your teams will have. Remember, because you’ll be managing both in-person individuals and those who are working remotely, you’ll need to manage accordingly. Here are tips for how to successfully manage a hybrid workforce:
Create and set expectations
Whether your remote workers are permanently remote or just remote for a small amount of time, make sure that you’re creating and setting boundaries and expectations. It’s important to have group meetings with your in-office employees and your remote employees both present. They need to see that the company is a united front despite the change in working habits.
During these group meetings, be sure to create and set expectations. One of the biggest worries of those working in-office is that the remote team will be working less due to distractions at home. This can lead to your office workers feeling undervalued and less important. Demonstrate how your remote workers will have the same expectations as your office team.
Choose an easy-to-use software to communicate
Communication within a hybrid workforce is one of the top challenges. If you allow everyone to communicate over email, you’re bound to have a long turnaround time. Instead, choose a software, like Slack or Asana, that allows people to easily communicate on each task. An entire group of people can be notified at the same time about an update to the project that they’re working on.
While email communication is often necessary, hybrid workforces usually perform better when they have a workforce software that they can communicate quickly on. Not only does this free up email space, but someone can easily catch up on what they miss when it’s all under the specific tasks.
Incorporate check-in times
Another important thing that can help you manage your team is having pre-set check-in times. Maybe once a day, everyone has to hop on and update the manager on what they’ve done. This can ensure that projects are being completed in a timely manner and that things aren’t being missed due to a lack of communication.
Recognize flexibility does need to happen
Especially for those who are working remotely, flexibility is a must, however, what most people fail to plan for is that flexibility needs to happen for in-office employees as well. They might need their hours adjusted to earlier or later in the day, they may need more time off, or situations may arise where they have to leave the office for a short period of time. If you’re only being flexible with your remote workers, this will create a lot of resentment. Ensure that you’re managing your team and being flexible with all workers.
That being said, flexibility is especially important for those who are only working remotely for a short amount of time due to the pandemic or special circumstances. These employees will be under immense stress, and they need your flexibility and care.
Unite the team
There’s always going to be the assumption that those who are working remotely will get less work done than those who are in the office. According to Harvard Business Review, remote workers often feel shunned or left out. They believe that their coworkers are talking badly about them, and it can be isolating. As a manager, you need to address this.
Uniting the team doesn’t have to be difficult. In fact, it can be something as easy as having group meetings where everyone logs on to Google Meet. This way, it feels equal because everyone is showing up at the same time in the same way. Just having remote workers get online can further isolate them.
If you’re having issues with your remote team and in-office team connecting, try doing some virtual team-building exercises. Though it may take away from a day of work, it can help bring some excitement back into the monotony of managing a hybrid team and is often successful in uniting employees.
Create more leadership positions
Depending on how many employees you have, trying to manage both a remote team and an in-office team can get overwhelming and near impossible. First, ask yourself how long your team is planning to be remote. If you’re going to transition into having a remote team constantly, even after the pandemic is over, then it may be time to create more leadership positions.
It’s difficult to have one person managing both teams, and sometimes, delegating and creating more leadership positions can actually benefit everyone. Look for the leaders on both teams and consider promoting them to a management position or hire someone new to be sure each team is being productive. These new management positions can be the liaison between the two teams, ensuring all needs are met.
Look for signs of burnout
Just because someone is working from home doesn’t mean they’re immune to burnout. Regularly check in with both your office team and your remote team about what they have going on. These are stressful times, and many people are having trouble adapting. Meet with your office workers regularly, and be sure to set up virtual meetings with your remote team as well.
Tips for making a remote team successful
Your remote team comes with specific challenges, so when it comes to managing a hybrid workforce, you may need to show them a bit more attention. Follow these tips for making your remote team successful:
- Be sure that security measures are in place when sending company documents that could be hacked
- Ensure that all remote workers have the necessary tools to work remotely (like desks, high-speed wi-fi, etc.)
- Track your remote team’s hours using software like Hubstaff to check productivity levels
- Set clear working hours so each employee knows when they need to be logged on
- Use a workforce software that makes it easy to check-in and communicate with others
- Be organized and set clear due dates so nothing falls through the cracks
- Be flexible and understanding if they are new to remote working or only working remotely
Whether you’re planning to have a hybrid workforce temporarily or permanently, you’ll need to be aware of the challenges that come with a remote team. As long as you keep open communication and work to ensure the remote workers feel present and part of the team, you can count on having a successful hybrid workforce. Remember, it all starts with good leadership, so choose your hybrid workforce managers wisely and things will go much smoother.
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The key to a successful workforce is hiring top culture-fit talent. We know exactly how to find the candidates who will thrive in a remote setting as well as in an office space. Our staffing experts can meet your unique hiring needs through flexible recruitment options, such as direct-hire, contact-to-hire, or contract staffing.
To learn more about how we can help establish your hybrid workforce, contact us today!