The working environment has changed in ways no one was expecting the past year, and some people are starting to feel the pressure of these changes more severely than those who are in charge of teams. During the past year, many business leaders have had to adapt to working and leading their teams from home for the first time.
However, with the pandemic starting to go away, many of these managers are once again adapting to new changes. Many organizations are beginning to implement a new working model that combines the best of both worlds. With many organizations eager to get back into the office spaces, the idea of adopting a hybrid work model is growing.
Adjusting to an entirely new model comes with a set of challenges. For managers, it can be tough to lead and engage with their team members when everything is constantly changing around them. When you consider the fact that managers alone make up for 70% of the variances for team engagement, it can feel overwhelming for a team during these uncertain times.
Fortunately, there are ways to ensure that managers keep their team members consistently engaged, whether they are working off-site or on-site. Here are several ways managers can keep their team members engaged.
Make them feel included
Inclusion is an essential part of developing an efficient hybrid workforce. There might be times where the proximity of your employees causes bias or the inability to keep things equally fair. These problems can be dealt with very easily by managers. They need to encourage everyone on the team to speak up about their concerns, be heard, and feel welcomed.
By establishing inclusivity in the workplace, organizations can build a sense of belonging, engagement, and connectivity among team members. Since flexible working is likely to become the norm when setting up a hybrid work environment, managers need to think of several ways to foster an inclusive workplace.
One way to pull this off is by creating team meetings that allow both off-site and on-site workers to attend at the same time. These meetings should enable everyone a few minutes to chat before the agenda starts. Managers need to foster an environment where everyone is allowed to share ideas or feedback. Of course, to make that work, managers should acknowledge the differences of experience when it comes to a hybrid workforce.
Managers should also set up frequent one-on-one meetings with their remote employees for brainstorming sessions or wellness support. Doing so will allow employees to open up and foster a relationship that creates a more effective and better working relationship. It also allows managers to find out what they can do to assist their employees. Lastly, talk to your team and explain to them how all of them contribute to the organization's overall success. By doing so, you give them all a sense of purpose and make them feel accountable for the success of the company.
Communication and collaboration
Employees who are working on-site tend to take instant communication for granted. For instance, they can walk down the room and ask for an update on a project or request information from their colleague without issue. These on-site workers expect to receive instant communication often, which can become an issue when it comes to distributed teams. It is one of the reasons why your organization needs to establish rules when it comes to asynchronous communication. Lay down expectations when it comes to how quickly a discussion can happen among team members.
To ensure everyone knows when to engage each other in a hybrid work model, several strategies should be considered to ensure employee engagement.
Every meeting should be recorded and be made readily available to those who were not able to attend. Managers should always set the context while communicating with their hybrid teams. They need to use communication platforms that ensure everyone can communicate with each other in some fashion. Slack is an excellent way for team members to send instant messages to each other. It also provides a feature that allows room admins to create different channels that enable team members to talk about things other than work. Zoom is an excellent choice for voice calls and conferences with the team and makes things more personal.
Project management tools need to be set up so managers can track the progress of their teams and facilitate collaborative works. There also needs to be a process that enables team members to share documents and workflows. Platforms like Google storage or Dropbox allow teams to share these vital documents securely. Business leaders need to update workplace policies that provide rules and information when it comes to flexible working to establish uniform and equal operating procedures. Lastly, managers could potentially send out written emails confirming the weekly task and upcoming deadline for the clarity of their team members.
One thing that many organizations discovered when they switched over to remote work is the fact that off-site employees have a difficult time finding an off switch. Most remote workers tend to overwork themselves and for too long. That eventually leads to them burning out physically and mentally. These burnouts will cause your productivity levels to decline and lead to problems arising among the employees. Managers need to consider this and prevent it from happening in their teams.
An excellent way to let your workforce know that you care for their wellbeing and want to support them in being healthy is by providing access to wellness activities. Managers need to check up on their workers and encourage them to take frequent breaks. Working from home can cause the lines between office working hours and leisure time to become blurry. Some workers may even start to feel guilty for taking a few minute breaks from working, hence why they need to be prompted by managers.
Make it mandatory for them to take a lunch break. These lunch breaks will provide them with some time to refresh themselves mentally and physically. Another thing managers should do is arrange team activities that get the workers away from their tasks for a short while. Take into consideration how you are going to have both on-site and off-site teams conduct these activities with each other. For some days, maybe on-site workers can do activities that allow in person interactions, while off-site workers have a virtual version. Other days, you have both the office workers and remote workers team up in pairs to accomplish an activity together.
Online team activities can be arranged for hybrid employees. They can be something simple as having them share their pictures of pets or performing team health challenges. These activities will contribute to team-building relationships, whether they be off-site or on-site. Most importantly, there needs to be an established central communication hub that helps unite the team collectively and cause a sense of community. Workers can come together to engage and collaborate over shared professional and personal interests.
Keep in mind that minor initiatives such as these can go a long way in keeping your employees engaged and in good health.
Rewards and recognition
Another essential aspect of employee engagement is recognizing the work that is being done by the employees. Managers should never forget to show appreciation for the team's hard work, especially those working off-site. It has been proven that employees whose efforts and accomplishments are rewarded and recognized are far more likely to become increasingly loyal to the company. These pats on the back cost the company nothing but offer public recognition for a job well done, which is valued by many.
Additionally, make recognition visible to encourage the other team members in the company to work harder. It also allows them to understand that their off-site team members are contributing to the organization just as much as they are. The rewards you give to your employees do not have to be extravagant in any way. Something simple as a gift card or a thank you note should suffice.
Whether they succeed at reaching their monthly quotes or go out of their way to assist a customer. Celebrating these wins empowers your employees to strive for the betterment of the company and themselves.
Since a good portion of your workforce is working at him, some of them will start to feel isolated and detached from their colleagues. With the social interaction that occurs at a water cooler is now gone, it is a lot harder for them to brainstorm ideas and receive feedback off-site. Plus, since human interaction also occurs through body language, off-site employees miss out on the non-verbal side of communication since they can’t see their team members. So, what can managers do to solve this connectivity issue?
Sending out emails is fine, but it doesn’t substitute well for that much-needed engagement required. Organizations need to invest in efficient virtual working tools and platforms where conversation can seamlessly flow. Fortunately, there are many tools out there that companies can adopt and combine to see which suits the needs of their employees. From video conferencing to reward and recognition platforms, each one serves to improve the connectivity of your employees.
Employees that are kept engaged will ensure that the operation continues to run smoothly in a hybrid workforce. The introduction of a hybrid work model will cause some issues along the way, but keeping your employees engaged should assist in smoothing out any of the more challenging problems that could potentially arise.