Numerous offices across the United States will reopen and “return to work” initiatives will launch in the coming months. What comes next isn’t the death of the office, nor will it be a return to the way things were.
A survey my team conducted on LinkedIn found that 68% of the 9,235 respondents wanted the flexibility to work both remotely and in the office. Our survey data is not an outlier. World Economic Forum’s survey found that 72% of workers wanted a hybrid remote office model. A PWC survey found that a majority of employees want a blend of remote and in-office working.
The future of work is hybrid; where employees are co-located in the same space and working remotely. The office becomes a meeting place for collaboration, connection, and innovation—not a heads down cubical farm.
Hybridity offers you and your team members 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.
Here’s how you and your team can maximize the benefits of a hybrid workplace.
Define and Optimize How the Team Works Together
To enable performance in a hybrid workplace, you and your team need to clarifyand adjust how you work together. Collaboration systems and processes are both content and context specific. The goal is to determine how to enhance the execution of your team’s projects utilizing both virtual and in-person collaboration systems and processes.
Gather your team and discuss the following questions:
How do we support or generate revenue? How do we enable the company to achieve its strategic goals? What are the specific types of work we perform?
What aspects of our work require a specific program or application to complete? What is it/are they?
What aspects of our work require a certain location? If the work does not require a particular location, what is the optimal place to perform the work? Is it in a collaboration room at the office or working independently at the kitchen table?
What collaboration systems and processes worked well over the last year?
What collaboration systems and processes did not work well over the last year? What can we do to reimagine, replace, or eliminate this system or process?
How do we want to conduct our team, project, and one-on-one meetings?
What is the optimal team schedule for both virtual and in-person work? What will be our process for modifying and adjusting this schedule as individual and project needs change?
Balance Social and Transactional Team Member Interactions
Back-to-back Zoom calls have left many team members feeling disconnected from their manager and colleagues due to the formal, transactional structure of these calls. Humans are social animals. We want to connect with our colleagues and miss the informal, spontaneous exchanges that occurred in the office breakroom or hallway and we don’t want to be in the office every day.
A hybrid workplace requires an intentional balance between social and transactional team member interactions.
Allow and create space on your calendar for informal connections with your team members that are agenda free, spontaneous, and casual.
Create opportunities for the team to learn about each other – their work, their personal hobbies, and interests.
Schedule time for in-person team social events or activities.
As part of your goal setting process, encourage your team members to include a personal goal. Invite them to share this goal with the team.
Ask your team members:
How do we want to celebrate each other’s personal and professional successes?
How do we want to show support for each other’s social wellbeing?
How do we want to balance social and transactional team interactions?
Clarify Communication, Project, and Performance Expectations
Uncertainty and ambiguity undermine employee performance and can be exacerbated in a hybrid work environment. When employees know what is expected of them, organizations can realize a 22% reduction in turnover and a 10% increase in productivity, according to Gallup.
To reduce uncertainty, ensure that your team members know your communication and project execution expectations.
What is the required response time to internal and external customer emails, team member emails, and your emails?
What are their limits of authority on projects? What decisions can they make independently? What decisions require your input?
What are the project communication guidelines and frequency? What is the cadence for project updates? How will these be communicated? What type of communication do you expect if there is a problem?
Once your communication and implementation expectations are well-defined, confirm that your team member performance expectations are clear. Meet with each team member and verify that their goals are specific, enable them to leverage their unique strengths, and that they understand how each goal supports the obtainment of a team, division, or corporate goal.