The spread of the pandemic has increased again, and many are back at the home office. Organizations that have already adopted to a hybrid work place where you mix remote and office work, are likely to experience less problems than those who have not come that far.
The hybrid work place is here to stay. Do you want to avoid the mistakes others have made, and learn what has worked well? Then you should continue reading this blog post. 😃
Common challenges in a hybrid work place:
1. People who work remotely, work in a different direction and with other priorities that those who work in the office
This can happen e.g. by information not reaching everyone in the team, or if the leaders lead those in the office differently than those who work remotely.
2. Wrong expectations on the communication and inefficient meetings
For instance that one is expected to respond immediately to a slack message, email, or text message. To be continuously interrupted during a work day can cost organizations massive amounts of time and money. If you are or have been working remotely, you are likely to experience that you attend many more meetings now than previously – that is web meetings of course. There are many web meetings being booked that are not always so efficient.
3. Leaders who have not adopted the hybrid way of working
Leaders who try to lead in the old way with everyone physically present, without taking into consideration that there are now staff working remotely. That leaders do not adopt or know how to lead a hybrid work place is probably the biggest challenge to solve, to succeed.
4. Ensuring that you work on your culture even if you have a hybrid work place
Many organizations with remote coworkers struggle with maintaining their culture. It is obviously more difficult to acknowledge and praise the behaviors we want to see more of when working remotely, which is why it is important to take this challenge seriously and really work on it. Here you can read more about how to build a good organizational culture in the hybrid work place.
5. Ensuring a high wellbeing in the team
How do your coworkers actually feel when they work remotely? It is harder to judge the actual wellbeing when you don’t meet physically.
6. Behaviors favoring those who work from the office
Teams and leaders run a high risk of creating sub cultures for those who work from the office. It can easily become an ‘us and them feeling’, which is obviously devastating for the team spirit, and not the least the trust within the team.
How to succeed with a hybrid work place:
As described above, there are things that can go wrong. Fortunately, we can learn from others who have succeeded. Here are 5 tips on how to succeed with a hybrid work place.
1. Assume that all work is remote – always
Create structures and conditions for all of your work to be remote. Set remote working as your new normal way of working. This view will force you to always think, both as a leader and as a coworker; ‘what do we need, to work efficiently remotely?’.
Set up your channels, your structure, your processes, your communication tools, and your leadership (here you can find everything you need to lead remotely (link in Swedish)), as if everyone always work remotely.
2. Ensure that you work with openness to build and maintain trust in your team
When working remotely, you don’t always know what your team mates or your colleagues do. Then, it can easily happen that your start to mistrust each other.
Take this seriously, and make sure that you focus on working on the openness. Openness is the foundation to high trust in a team. There are teams who have taken this to its extreme, where they openly share salary levels and feedback with each other. Of course you don’t have to go that far, but a simple way to get started is to work with daily check in or check outs.
A check in can be that you in the morning share your plans for the day with your colleagues. At the end of the day, you summarize what you have done. This can be done in tools like for instance Slack or Basecamp.
3. Equip your leaders for a hybrid work place
Leadership is a great challenge in succeeding with a hybrid work place. We can’t lead or expect that the leaders should work according to the same processes as before, when you met each other physically every day. Train the leaders in how to succeed with a hybrid work place. Make sure that they get mentors and sounding boards. Create leader forums, where they can share experiences on what does and what doesn’t work, when leading their hybrid teams. See it as a continuous learning process.
4. Inform through clear channels that work remotely
Information is important, since it drives openness and thereby trust. Traditionally, you get information through channels based on everyone being in the office. Make sure that this is changed so that the information comes through channels that also work remotely, and that these channels are your primary source of information exchange.
5. Accept waiting times when you communicate
As described above, it is costly and inefficient to respond to messages, emails, and phone calls as soon as you have received them. Don’t create a culture in your team where you have such expectations. Such behaviors create stress and inefficiency. A better way is to work focused on your task for a period of time, then take a break. During these breaks, you can reply to messages and emails. Some people use the pomodoro method (link in Swedish) and think that it works very well.
If something is really urgent, agree on how to act in such situations. E.g. that in urgent matters we call or send text messages. Discuss what you think might work in your team.
Good luck with your hybrid work place, and remember to try, evaluate, and learn from what works and what doesn’t.