How to manage employees in 'the new normal'
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, many workplaces have moved to a hybrid working pattern, meaning their employees divide their time between working at the office and working remotely.
Research shows that hybrid work can improve productivity and offer cost savings to employees and business owners alike, with reduced rent and commuting costs.
While this shift in workplace culture comes with benefits and increased flexibility, it can throw up challenges, too.
We explore some of these challenges and offer our best tips to combat them, so you can harness the power of hybrid working to benefit your business.
Use scheduling management software
When all staff are in the office, you know who’s working when. Things get a little trickier when some members of the team are working remotely and some aren’t.
You’ll need to record attendance with a ‘clock-in’ system, and use a digital rota to display employees’ shifts and where they’ll be working from.
Shift scheduling software such as Findmyshift will allow your staff to clock in and out of their shifts from the comfort of their own home on remote-working days.
It will also make it easier for you to organise meetings and tasks for the week ahead by checking the location of your staff on the rota.
Be savvy with office-based days
One of the key benefits of working in the office is the ability to engage with colleagues face-to-face. If your employees are required to come into the office a minimum number of days a week, it may be useful to mandate that all staff are in on one particular day.
Having all staff in on a Monday, for example, would allow everybody to join a face-to-face meeting and swap ideas and updates. It would also ensure that the team learn to work together as a whole, rather than creating smaller splinter groups.
Of course, restrictions may make this difficult, so you could divide up your employees if there are too many to all meet up. Having a single team all come in for one day will allow people to work face-to-face with those they collaborate with most often.
In a hybrid work model, you won’t have the level of supervision of your employees you’re accustomed to. This lack of control can be a challenge if you’re used to knowing what your staff are doing at all times during the day.
To ensure your employees are still performing their work tasks remotely where there’s a greater risk of distraction, hold frequent meetings and give regular feedback to clarify your expectations.
On the flip side, remote working can lead to some employees working well over their hours, as the line between work and home life becomes blurred. To avoid this occurring, and leading to burnout, set strict boundaries for your team.
Staff shouldn’t be working longer than their set hours regularly, and a lunch break away from the desk should be non-negotiable. Managing your team’s stress levels is crucial for high morale and productivity.
Provide the necessary tools
Many of us can do our jobs just as well from home - provided we have the necessary equipment. If you don’t already have one, an intranet or VPN can allow employees remote access to the same digital platforms they use in the office, meaning no productivity is lost at home.
It’s also worth checking that all staff have the tools at home to create an appropriate space for working. If you have the cash to spare, set up a fund which employees can apply for to buy office equipment for their home, such as ergonomic chairs.
Provide client-facing staff with a work mobile so that they can still take calls remotely without impacting clients’ customer service experience.
When your workforce are split across various locations, communication is key to keep everything running smoothly. Make sure there’s a proper process in place for staff to contact their colleagues or superiors, so nobody feels stuck if they need support.
Regular catch-up meetings are a great tool in the arsenal to make sure the team is communicating properly. It’s worth putting a couple of weekly team meetings in the diary, one at the start and one at the end of the week.
Employees should also have access to digital messaging tools to ensure they can communicate whether working in the office or remotely.
The bottom line
Switching to a hybrid working pattern can seem daunting, but when done properly, it wields benefits for the whole workforce.
Hybrid working allows employers to reduce rent costs by downsizing office space, and gives employees the freedom to work in an environment that best suits their working style.
That said, hybrid working is not without its challenges. The best way to ensure that productivity doesn’t drop with a hybrid working arrangement is to encourage regular communication between all team members and set clear expectations.
If you implement our top tips for hybrid working, your business will reap the rewards in no time.