How to Manage a Happy and Healthy Hybrid Workforce

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As Americans begin to hope that the Covid-19 pandemic is finally under control and business begins to return to the new normal, the future of what business will look like is still largely unknown.

On the one hand, many workers believe they can work effectively remotely, with 45% of employees saying they were more productive when working offsite. The majority of workers (83%) also said they prefer hybrid environments that allow them to work remotely at least 25% of the time. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) has issued a stark warning to employers by releasing a report in which they warn the public that working from home models can be dangerous. Studies have found, for example, that 65% of people working remotely put in more hours than they had in the office, and 67% of those surveyed said they felt burnt out..

Effective use of hybrid setups as a permanent solution to post-pandemic challenges requires everyone involved to be aware of the challenges of these environments.

Related: 3 Ways to Coach a Hybrid Workforce

Encourage discipline regarding self-care and time off to minimize burnout

One of the highlights of the WHO report was a recommendation that workers set firm boundaries, including a way to signal their availability to others. They associated this with the recommendation to engage in regular social and physical activity. While employees must take personal responsibility for these boundaries and activities, as leaders we can support our employees and, in doing so, achieve higher levels of productivity that result from a satisfied workforce. work-life balance.

As you encourage them to pursue hobbies and activities that give them rest and pleasure, model engaging in these activities yourself. Perhaps most importantly, proactively schedule one-on-one meetings. These interactions give you a platform to see how each employee is doing and keep them from feeling like they’re getting lost in the shuffle. You may find that some people on your team need additional individual support from you. Even if you cannot provide everything to everyone, your visibility and your efforts to promote yourself are important.

Related: 3 Ways to Build Cohesive Remote and Hybrid Teams

Deal with emerging vulnerabilities

As workers choose where they want to work, team members can easily drift into silos based on distance and technology. These “fault lines” are at the heart of the hybrid’s five “C challenges” – coordination, communication, connection, culture and creativity. In practice, they can manifest as difficulty scheduling meetings, lack of clarity about project goals, confusion about using systems, and similar issues. The end result can be not only a decline in productivity, but also a breakdown in the unified support of corporate values.

Fixing loopholes isn’t just a matter of logistics, like making sure to only schedule meetings on days when all workers are on site. It requires being upfront about any underlying beliefs around what is going on. Maybe on-site workers don’t like WFH employees texting them after hours because they appreciate a firm score, or maybe some people don’t want to think about calls videos scheduled because they feel the brainstorming requires the kind of spontaneity expected the call cannot offer.

Once you are familiar with the underlying concepts around a fault line, you can work with the bottom-up team to challenge biases and find practical ways to fill existing gaps. It’s a powerful way to ensure that employees understand and take ownership of the company’s direction, vision and operation.

Help employees see how they connect to the mission

Many people enjoy the freedom and security of a good salary. But in the end, money isn’t everything. Workers also want to believe that their work has a purpose beyond themselves. That what they do contributes to society. They want to believe in the mission of the company. For some, the mission is more personal: it involves supporting their employees. Workers can quit a job if their office environment doesn’t support them and give them purpose or meaning.

The numbers support the idea that connecting people to the larger organizational mission benefits companies. A recent study indicates that people who do not feel their work has an impact on the company’s mission are 630% more likely to leave their job than their colleagues who do. According to a Gallup poll, increasing worker connection to the mission by 10% creates a 4% increase in profitability, even if revenue drops by 8%.

Creating that sense of connection is part of your role as a manager, and you can do it on both a small and large scale. Talking to workers one-on-one about project goals, discussing the mission in your company newsletter, or letting them participate directly in the development of organizational processes are legitimate ways to get employees thinking about how and why they fit in. .

Related: What’s the Best Way to Run a Highly Effective Hybrid Meeting?

Remote and hybrid working could help individuals and organizations through greater flexibility, reduced operational costs and productivity. But these environments have a dark side that no one should ignore: they can potentially create burnout and other problems.

In the midst of these contrasts, as expressed by Vera Paquete-Perdigão, Director of the Department of Governance and Tripartism at the International Labor Organization, “…we have the opportunity to integrate new policies, practices and supporting standards to ensure millions of teleworkers lead healthy lives. , happy, productive and decent work.

Seize this opportunity. Be intentional, because when you listen deliberately, create equality, and protect others, and when you show people their express purpose, they won’t hesitate to turn the tide and help your team succeed.

Michael A. Bynum