Bring up the subject of hybrid work and people typically fall into 2 distinct camps:
- Camp Love Hybrid! – This camp is usually filled with team members who enjoyed the freedom and flexibility of working from home/anywhere they discovered during the COVID-19 pandemic. They’ll tout improved work/life balance and connection to family.
- Camp Hate Hybrid! – Welcome to the camp that holds the managers of the aforementioned team members, managers who are struggling to determine if their hybrid employees are actually engaged in the work. You could also find some team members in this camp who struggled with the isolation and disconnectedness that sometimes comes with remote work.
How do we create a 3rd camp that meets somewhere in the middle? Our new camp should blend the benefits of flexibility that the Love Hybrids enjoy with the increased measurable engagement that most of the Hate Hybrids are seeking. Let’s call it Camp Make Hybrid Work!
Here are 4 strategies you could employ to create happy Make Hybrid Work! campers:
- Provide Effective Tools and Technology: Hybrid workers need tools and tech that will help them be productive and efficient. This includes both hardware and software. A powerful laptop and reliable internet connection are just the tip of the iceberg. There are tons of new tools you can employ that will increase remote productivity. Allow remote and hybrid teams the opportunity to get involved in the tool selection process. Nothing sparks engagement in a tool more than being included in its selection.
Benefits in both camps: Hybrid workers feel empowered to do their best work and managers can rest easy in knowing they’ve done everything they can to open the productivity floodgates.
- Clearly Defined Communication Channels: Helping hybrid workers stay connected to their managers, other hybrid workers, and in-office team members is critical to hybrid success. Focus on not just how they will communicate (apps like Slack, Teams, and Zoom make that the easy part), but when they will meet up, and why. And the why is key. Nothing sucks the engagement out of a hybrid, remote, or even an on-location worker than meetings without purpose.
Benefits in both camps: Team members know exactly what’s expected of them and can plan accordingly and managers can see and measure team member engagement during meetings, cameras on, of course.
- Offer Continued Flexibility: Hold on… we’re already letting employees work from home a day or two out of the week. What more do they want? They want the ability to choose the where and when they will work. Allow team members to tell you what works best for their work/life balance, whether that be Mondays at home to allow for post-weekend reorganization or Wednesdays in-office to provide in-person meeting opportunities.
Benefits in both camps: Team members can maintain optimized family connections making them feel valued and supported and managers can expect increased engagement and productivity.
- Know Exactly What Motivates Them: We all answer the question, What gets you out of bed in the morning? differently. Team members and managers are all motivated by different things. Some people have a high altruistic drive that manifests in a helper mentality, while others get excited when offered incentives and rewards. Employ a motivational assessment tool to discover everyone’s distinct drivers.
Benefits in both camps: Results from a motivational assessment can be shared throughout the team helping hybrid, remote, and in-house workers understand and appreciate each others’ similarities and differences. Managers can tailor one-on-ones and recognition and reward structures specifically to the needs of every team member.
Setting up an environment where all team members have the tools they need to perform their jobs whether in-house, remote, or hybrid helps keep everyone engaged in their roles. When team members are engaged, companies achieve goals.
Gallup’s recent US Engagement in the Workplace polls identified that since the COVID-19 pandemic employee engagement levels have dropped for the first time in a decade from 36% to 34%. And the levels are still dropping. In 2022, the percentage of engaged workers is down to 32%. This leaves 68% of current workers to be moderately or actively disengaged in their work.
Hybrid and remote work have become the new normal. Taking the specific steps above to create Camp Make Hybrid Work! can slow this engagement downslide and get you on the path to reversing it