Have you, as a leader, adapted to the “new normal” hybrid work environment?

Probably not fully yet… But here are five pieces of advice you can start implementing today!  

Most organizations haven’t implemented new systems or processes to fit the new remote way of working. Due to the pandemic, organizations have required or encouraged employees to work from home. And while the world is slowly returning to normality, remote work is here to stay.

Statistics tell us that around 18% of people work remotely full-time across the world. Although this might not seem like a vast number, the fact that some companies don’t have a headquarter or a physical office at all is quite revolutionary. 

According to a study conducted by Growmotely, 97% of employees don’t want to return to the office full-time. It’s been estimated that by 2025, 70% of the workforce will work at least five days remotely in a month.

“Employees are looking for remote positions that come with flexibility as well as the security and benefits that come with traditional office-based jobs. Today’s employees are looking for more than just a place to work. They’re looking for an employer who values their growth and development as well as their personal wellbeing. Offering these options will help position your company as an attractive place to work.”

The above, written by Forbes, underlines the importance of feedback and inclusivity. But now more than ever, all leaders should actively plan to ensure it in new ways. The hybrid work condition doesn’t allow leaders to discover and act on challenges the same way as before. So “Out of sight, out of mind” is a natural consequence of the new circumstances. 

However, although leaders no longer see their employees every day, the challenges are still there, and not acting proactively on them can have enormous repercussions. Even minor challenges can result in dissatisfaction and loss of motivation, affecting efficiency and overall team performance. Worst case scenario, if you act too late, you can lose a key employee, which is expensive and devastating to the team culture. 

Successteam will keep you close to your employees, even from far away.

Through Successteam, you collect continuous anonymous feedback, get your key team metrics straightforwardly, and guide you in solving your team challenges.

Successteam or not, we have listed 5 points you should consider as a leader trying to tackle the new hybrid work environment. 

 

1. Communicate and adapt with your team

The first step is acknowledging that what “used to work” might not work anymore. In fact, it probably won’t, and your employees already know. If you try to go back to the “normal” routines as if nothing happened, you’ll have challenges. Covid19 has changed our circumstances and employees’ mindsets, so you as a leader have to adapt. 

The first step is talking to your team. Ask your employees how they feel about coming back to work and their preferences regarding remote work. You don’t have to cater to all their wishes, but if you can’t, explain why. Invite them into the conversation so they are a part of creating an environment where they thrive. As a result, they’ll feel heard and recognized. 

2. Stay close, from far away.

How do you stay “close” to your employees when the new “normal” is remote? The answer is simple, good strong communication, continuously. 

Create and uphold a feedback culture where your employees feel that they can openly share their thoughts with no consequences. It’s not enough to ask your employees how they are doing once in a while. You need a real plan and system in place to make sure it’s a part of your routine tasks. If you are not proactively getting feedback, you, as a leader, won’t know about a challenge until it might be too late. 

Today there are many tools to support this (like our own Successteam). But if nothing else, your first step is creating a safe environment where your team members know that they can tell you about challenges they are experiencing. Schedule 15 min. in the calendar (at least monthly) only to cover feedback/challenges. These 15 min are for the employee to share, so make sure you listen. 

3. When you ask for feedback, you better act on it as well!

A common mistake is asking for feedback and then just never really getting back to actually acting on it. Its kind of like the old “my door is always open,” which many leaders say. It’s very easy to say, but many leaders quite literally have a very “closed door” and mostly just say it because they have to. It goes without saying that it’s not always possible to meet your employees’ expectations. 

The most important thing is that you don’t ignore them and communicate why something is not possible. For example, if an employee asks for a pay raise, and you can’t give them one, explain why. If you just say “no, that’s not possible,” they will build their own reasoning and get dissatisfied and unmotivated. Over time, this can become a more significant issue. 

4. Prioritize socializing – maybe online?

Most people find a lot of motivation in socializing with colleagues. We don’t have the same conditions to do so anymore. And although they might want to work from home, it’s your job as a leader to ensure that the culture doesn’t suffer too much under the new hybrid work conditions. It might seem like it, but a “Friday bar” or a “Monday cake” is not just that. Socializing outside of work creates a much stronger bond between colleagues, strengthening the team and the work they do collaboratively. If they have a friendship, the bandwidth to overcome obstacles or disagreements within the team will be much greater. One way is to plan an event where you meet up physically, but an idea could also be to schedule a recurring meeting where you focus on socializing. Meet online, play a game, get to know each other, and have a laugh. It will have huge value for the culture in the end. 

5. Be aware of new types of challenges

During Covid19, we all coped differently when it came to working. Some people lost all motivation and almost stopped working, and others overworked themselves and forgot to take breaks. As a leader, you need to be aware of the new challenges that you probably haven’t faced before.

Make sure you understand your team members’ different motivational drivers. If someone is working overtime and forgetting to go “offline” because they no longer physically leave the office, you should make sure they do. It might not seem like a big issue that someone is “overperforming,” but if you let them get overworked, they’ll burn out over time. 

Losing a key employee is devastating financially, but also for the culture. In the old days, a leader’s job mainly was to push their employees to perform. But today, many people are self-driven, so a leader also has to save employees from their own ambition so they don’t burn out and get stressed. 

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Focus on communication and feedback. Your employees will help you find a solution if you let them. The biggest mistake you can make right now is doing nothing. It’s not business as usual. The pandemic changes our conditions and mindsets when it comes to working. Adapt, and you’ll get happier teams who perform at their highest level. 

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