Refining the Hybrid Formula: Making Remote Work Successful
I wrote recently about why returning to the office is so important for organizations today. And how in-person helps hybrid work. The flipside of hybrid is remote work – and while it offers benefits for both employees and employers, we have to be strategic about it, too, for hybrid to succeed.
I feel some employers and employees are “stuck” when it comes to managing remote work well. And it’s coming to a tipping point these days. During COVID, some employees prioritized their mental health and wellbeing in their remote work habits – at the expense of their productivity. (But productivity is good for mental health. It gives employees a sense of accomplishment and purpose. And it helps forge stronger connections with their teams and organizations.)
To improve productivity post-pandemic, employers started implementing back to work policies that, in some cases, negatively impacted employees. It’s why quiet quitting is still prevalent among dissatisfied employees.
But both parties have to understand that hybrid is a workable model – and as part of it, some form of remote work is here to stay. But it requires a lot of work and dialogue from both parties.
For employers, remote work means more work
Having teams contribute from remote locations means more work for leaders. It’s why, as I’ve said before, we need more leaders. As leaders, you need to meet with people in the office, and then again with those who are working remotely. Communicate multiple times, in diverse ways to capture everyone on your team, no matter where they’re located. Have more check-ins, coffee chats, performance updates, and feedback meetings. If you celebrate a key milestone in the office, it means making additional plans for those working remotely, so everyone is included.
In fact, inclusion should form the basis for a successful remote work strategy when leading teams. Making sure every member of your team is equally well informed, and feels supported and connected so they can contribute effectively to the organization from any location.
Employees can help improve remote work for everyone
For employees, working remotely requires understanding how self-motivated and organized you are so you can continue to be productive. You should be aware of what you need to succeed away from the office and be able to communicate that to your leader and team members. And it’s necessary to advocate for yourself if you feel left out when working remotely.
In fact, understanding that there are bound to be gaps between in-person and remote work experiences is imperative. As an employee, you have the opportunity to be positive and proactively suggest ways the organization can better support remote work for you and everyone when these gaps appear.
Hybrid continues to be a work in progress for everyone
At Impact, we optimize days when several of us are in the office together with more short meetings, coffee chats, client huddles, and performance updates. And we check in with our team members working remotely multiple times as well, to ensure everyone feels supported and included. We’ve also ensured our people have really clear, measurable goals around their accounts and we’re communicating regularly on how the team’s doing. It’s still a work in progress, but overall, we’ve increased the amount of measurement, communication, recognition, and coaching we do with all our people.
It's more time and effort, but it’s necessary for making the remote work side of the hybrid equation successful for everyone. And the outcome so far has been positive. Our work is productive and we’re meeting or exceeding our goals. Our clients are benefiting. And our people are happy.
At the end of the day, that’s success for us.