It’s anticipated that soon, as much as 50% of the American workforce will, in some form, be working remotely—and that’s a lot, but it doesn’t account for all employees. Most companies will not go entirely virtual, but rather adopt a hybrid model that will allow for both remote and on-location work.
How this split will happen is down to the prerogative of the employers. Some may have their entire team work from home on certain days and come into the office on others, while some businesses might split their workforce into remote and in-office employees.
This will be a big change for some companies. How can you effectively manage this transition so you don’t lose productivity or company culture in the process?
Be very clear with your expectations for remote employees. After all, if you don’t lay down the law, you can’t expect them to follow it. The best way to handle this is to send them a document that outlines expectations once they come on board.
Emphasize constantly that, even though they’re working remotely, communication is still key. Sending an email or asking to meet over Zoom doesn’t take any more time or effort than walking from their desk to a boss’s office, but employees are much more hesitant to connect virtually than they are face to face. But when they don’t communicate, things fall by the wayside.
Also, of course, make clear the expectation that during work hours they’ll be working regardless of if it’s from the office or their couch. Most employees will understand that remote capabilities are something that’s being granted to them and will take these privileges seriously, but it’s always worth saying once that work hours are for work.
Changes in Management
Don’t worry—you don’t need to let anybody go. Rather, the people you have in charge should work on changing their management style to accommodate employees who are working virtually. What does this mean?
Managers will need to be available in ways they’ve never had to previously. Instead of having an employee simply walk into their office, important meetings may have to be conducted over Zoom calls or instant messaging. It will be a new experience, for adaptable managers, it should present no problem. A few bits of advice…
- Implement time tracking. A key concern employers have is that they’re not using their remote privileges to be productive, but rather to goof off at home. Time tracking is a simple way to alleviate that fear and keep employees honest. Obviously, don’t micromanage or ask them to document every time they use the bathroom or grab a snack from the refrigerator.
- Set up some in-person training or get-togethers. Working remotely is a much sought-after convenience, but employees will inevitably start to feel isolated if they never meet the people they’re working with. Set up a time for those who can meet in person, either during work hours or at a company-hosted event.
Keep Talent Close
The perk of having a hybrid workforce is that you can hire the best candidates without worrying about location, however, it does pay to keep your top talent close by. A lot of key jobs can be done entirely virtually, but they will never be able to replace human communication. One of the few drawbacks to the work-from-home shift we saw during the pandemic was the hit to creativity and communication—you just can’t effectively mimic collaboration over a Zoom call.
So, keep your best people close; close enough to come into the office two to three times a week if needed. This doesn’t mean that you can only hire within your area code, though. To get the best people, you’re going to have to put the best bait on the line. Consider adding relocation benefits to seal the deal with applicants who would have to make a move to come work for you. And, of course, allow them to work from home when being in the office isn’t essential.
Of course, the best way to seamlessly create a hybrid workforce is to hire people with strong productivity potential or prior WFH experience. How can you do this? By using assessments to evaluate existing employees, employers can determine if there are some important job skills or job-related traits employees lack or should improve upon. Competency-based assessments provide specific, precise data on the skills, abilities, and traits that should be developed. As a result, companies can organize targeted, personalized training and learning paths for their employees.
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