Managing employees who work in different places can prove challenging. Flexible work conditions enable employees who prefer working from their homes to stay there and yet allow employees who want to work from an office (for example, to avoid distractions from family members or housemates) the option to go in if that works better for them. While these two types of work culture may seem impossible to work together, with some planning and ingenuity, you can document practices that serve everyone.
Is Your Business Model Conducive for a Hybrid Work Culture?
Many businesses that manipulate physical objects, such as manufacturing or shipping, have difficulty using a hybrid work model. Companies that rely only on computer-based interactions fare somewhat better. When people communicate digitally, it’s easier to transition to conducting all business online, even when former conditions may have made in-office work the norm. However, many companies that have never had employees work remotely find they can achieve some degree of productivity if they re-visit their operating model with a fresh perspective, ensuring secure access to data if required.
As an organizational leader, you must intentionally design policies and procedures that reflect a commitment to treating all employees fairly, regardless of the work location. For example, set clear expectations about overtime pay rates, promotions, and any policies that may be impacted by work location. Your work culture emphasizes what’s important to ensure company growth and prosperity, and employee accountability becomes critical. Working from home doesn’t mean not working because the boss can’t see you. Similarly, you don’t get to waste time in the office if the boss isn’t there.
|Related: How to Be a Better Boss in a Working From Home Environment|
When your team becomes geographically distributed, you can ensure productivity by preparing your workforce for changes in the way meetings, announcements and even celebrations occur. Start taking stock of how your employees feel about working in different places. Ask everyone to complete an anonymous survey. You may be very pleasantly surprised by the positive attitudes. Or you may find some resentment that needs to be addressed. Conduct focus groups and interviews to dig deeper into your workforce’s sentiments.
Prepare for Changes
Some people may need coaching and mentoring to perform in a hybrid work culture. For example, they may need help learning how to schedule and conduct online meetings that allow everyone to participate and share ideas if these tools and techniques are unfamiliar to them. If employees oppose or resent the cultural shift, you may need to address that first. To introduce a hybrid work culture, devise a thorough communication plan outlining the engagement rules, approved tools, and best practices for working together. Reinforce this messaging with workshops and seminars that allow people to come together in a safe environment before conducting business in new ways using online tools and techniques.
In summary, to create a compelling hybrid work culture where some work occurs remotely and some occurs in the office, start by educating your organization’s leaders. Make sure they believe in the policies and procedures you implement. This strategy ensures that they can promote and endorse how work gets done, whether employees work in the traditional office space, at home, or on the road. Employee dysfunctional behavior can be prevented if you and other leaders set an example for the rest of the company. Once people get comfortable working online and using video, audio and messaging tools, even difficult conversations can take place constructively.
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