Ensure Inclusion, Equitable Treatment, and High Performance in a Hybrid Workplace
A hybrid workplace offers the benefits of remote work – increased flexibility, reduced carbon footprint, and enhanced employee satisfaction – as well as the critical advantages of co-located work – informal networking, cultural socialization, and face-to-face collaboration.
However, it can create problems with inclusivity, equity, and performance.
Due to where employees are located in a hybrid workplace, they have different access to resources and different levels of visibility.
On-site team members can spontaneously visit each other to brainstorm or ask for feedback, are seen in the hallway, and have faster access to information, which tends to be more current and broader and includes “water-cooler” conversations.
Remote workers must schedule interactions with colleagues and may find themselves overlooked for an impromptu meeting because they are “out of sight, out of mind.” They miss opportunities for informal exchanges, are more isolated, and often “out of the loop” or the last to know information.
In a hybrid workplace, it is imperative that leaders develop new work practices to ensure inclusion, equitable treatment, and high performance.
Proactively Address “Out of Sight, Out of Mind”
As a leader, it is essential to intentionally develop systems and processes to ensure that where a team member works does not negatively impact how they are treated or diminish their career advancement opportunities.
Develop a “when and where” team map.
Gather your team and draft a detailed map of the team’s hybridity configuration – who is working when and where.
Establish team core hours during which every team member agrees to be online and available.
Identify a day or two when most schedules overlap and prioritize on-site collaborative team work.
Discuss challenges that may arise with the hybridity configuration and core team hours and how the team will resolve them.
Once the map is finalized, share it with the team and ensure it is visible in your team’s collaboration software program or SharePoint site.
Revisit the team’s hybridity configuration at least once a quarter and more regularly if needed based on projects and individual team member requests.
Encourage your team members to be their own internal PR agents.
Neen James, attention expert and keynote speaker, suggests that employees “be their own internal publicist and send their manager on Friday a list of five bullet points describing their achievements for the week.”
Once a month suggest that your team members summarize and email you their accomplishments and how they supported or enabled the obtainment of any, all or some of the team’s and company’s goals.
Focus on the intentional inclusion of remote team members during meetings.
Confirm that the meeting platform effectively supports both in-person and virtual participation.
Involve them in discussions, brainstorming, and decision making.
Proactively ask for their input when they join via phone or video-conferencing technology.
Ensure that all meeting materials and documentation have been sent out prior to the meeting and are accessible and visible to everyone in the meeting.
Define Performance Metrics and Cultivate a Feedback Culture to Elevate Performance
The predominant pre-pandemic assumption was that employees would be less productive working from home. This was found to be not true. Ninety-four percent of 800 employers surveyed by Mercer, an HR and workplace benefits consulting firm, said that productivity was the same or higher than before the pandemic, even with their employees working remotely.
To support your team members’ productivity, ensure equity, and elevate performance in a hybrid workplace:
Define and track performance metrics.
Evaluate and reconfigure any existing key performance indicators that do not consider resource accessibility or account for variations in visibility.
Do each of your employees have specific, measurable performance objectives they are responsible for? If not, work with them to develop them.
Do each of these objectives have key results identified to measure and evaluate their success? If not, develop them.
What tool and/or process will you use to impartially track what your team members accomplish on their performance objectives and key results?
Provide consistent, real-time, specific feedback.
Schedule time to meet with each of your team members once a week to provide feedback.
Ensure that your feedback is specific, actionable, and discrete. For example, “great job” does not enable your team member to identify exactly what they did well, it does not provide enough data for them to reproduce the action, nor is it focused on a precise behavior.
Ask your team members for feedback.
To ask for feedback, use my S.E.E. feedback method.
Be specific. Ask for the specific type of feedback that you want to receive.
Share an example. Provide an example of the type of feedback you want to receive.
Explain. Ask the team member you requested feedback from to explain what you did or did not do.
Ask for feedback often. The more frequently you ask, the faster you can change your behavior.
Ask for feedback immediately. Reducing the time between the event and the feedback you receive will help ensure that the person’s memory is fresh, and that you don’t suffer from revisionist history.
Recognize your team members’ efforts and accomplishments.
Acknowledgment is personal. Identify how each team member wants to be appreciated for their team contributions.
Do they want verbal praise? Or written praise?
Do they prefer their name on a plaque on the wall?
Do they want to be acknowledged in front of their peers, senior leadership, or the entire firm?