3 Powerful Techniques to Effectively Manage Your Remote Team
How to embrace the challenges of hybrid work environments.
In the first year of the pandemic, Pew Research found that 71 percent of workers shifted to remote work -- many of them without prior at-home experience. Today, some have returned to offices full time. The very same center conducted a similar study, from early 2022, which reported that 59 percent of professionals, whose jobs can be done remotely, are telecommuting the majority of the time. Buffer's 2022 State of Remote Work found that people overwhelmingly recommend at home offices and would like the trend to continue.
Not all companies are on board with this shift. Leaders at Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan and other large corporations have made it known that remote labor doesn't work for them, which is shortsighted because, at this point, there's no turning back.
Accordingly, many businesses are adopting meet-in-the-middle solutions via hybrid work models. Savvy startup leaders would be wise to take heed.
Gallup's State of the Workforce report showed that 54 percent of respondents said they would ideally like to split their time between laboring away at home and in the office. However, the hybrid model has drawbacks, especially if you manage a team that's not always in-house.
First, staying in tune with direct reports can be difficult when they're not physically present. Occasional Slack pings just aren't the same as serendipitous break room interactions. Speaking over a screen is more comfortable for some, than it is for others, plus power, status and language dynamics can create communication barriers in person.
Additionally, the hybrid model doesn't always fit into a department's workflow as some workers need to be on-site to perform their jobs. This can create friction between these employees and co-workers who regularly skip expensive, time-consuming commutes.
How can you make sure that you're getting all the advantages of hybrid work -- such as higher employee satisfaction and increased productivity -- while tempering the downsides?
Placing a premium on communicating
Siloing, (i.e., different departments working independently) can be a serious problem for hybrid work teams, individuals and companies---it even led to WeWork's demise. Silos can create discord with productivity, morale, creativity and the customer experience.
To get around the issue, ensure your departments have the technological tools they need to collaborate. For example, you can move your team to a project management platform to centralize knowledge-sharing, planning and scheduling. Just be aware that you'll need to use the platform yourself to make sure your people buy into using it.
According to a recent GoodHire survey, only 22 percent of U.S. workers feel their bosses trust them to get their jobs done when they're not working in the office. This lack of faith can negatively affect morale, productivity and cause employees to leave. In other words, be sure you're treating your direct reports like they're adults.
Unless there is a major problem with an employee's work, assume that your team members are doing their jobs, whether they're down the hall or at home on their couches. Let them know that they can come to you with questions or issues.
RELATED: Welcome To The Hybrid Work Era
Treat it as a work-in-progress
Don't expect everything to be perfect from the start, even companies like Apple were forced to rethink their hybrid work policies because of a resurgence of COVID-19 and employee concerns. If you're open to adjustments from the start, correcting course will be much easier should problems arise for your team.
The post-pandemic workplace doesn't look the same in many industries due to hybrid models that are still broadly in place. Rather than resist this change, lean into it. With a little effort, you'll find the right balance to make the experience intuitive, effective and enjoyable for you and your staff.
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