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Maintaining engagement and productivity

Maintaining engagement and productivity

2/10/2021

Following on from my last article about embracing a post-pandemic way of working I thought it would be helpful to look at how businesses can maintain engagement and productivity in a hybrid work environment. 

 

Remote and hybrid work arrangements can challenge the norms that culture and performance rely on, such as trust, teamwork, and knowledge sharing. There is also the risk of forming two disparate cultures: one in office, one virtual. Additionally, managers may feel challenged in supervising and managing distributed teams.

With that in mind, here are some of my tips for addressing these challenges:

Communication 

Regular and effective communication is the first step to ensuring that hybrid working is successful.   Every team member, whether working in the office or remotely, has a responsibility to communicate effectively.  When communication is not well managed it can result in poor information flow, knowledge gaps, barriers to effective team working and exclusion of team members who are not in the office.  This can be avoided by scheduling daily or weekly meetings with teams, which enables team members to gain alignment on priorities and expectations, address any concerns, and celebrate achievements.  Visibility is also important. Managers should encourage their teams to share their work calendars to offer transparency and to minimize any sense of exclusion from remote workers.

Trust and Expectations 

Trust in the workplace is critical, especially where employees are not physically together.  It is important to be open and honest when giving feedback, be clear about expectations and keep employees informed and connected.  

When it comes to setting expectations make sure everyone is on the same page.  For example, do you expect those working remotely to be available 9am to 5pm or do you trust that a piece of work will be completed on time and to the required standard regardless of when the employee works.    

Manager training and development

 Until recently many managers will never have had to manage remote workers and the demands and challenges this new way of working presents.   Businesses should put in place training to support managers to:

  • Manage requests for hybrid (or increased flexible) working at an individual and team level, 
  • Develop the skills to ensure effective communication, performance management, team and relationship building and collaboration in hybrid teams.
  • Ensure inclusion and diversity, effective induction and employee engagement.

 Technology and equipment

Technology plays a critical role in hybrid working. Employees need to be able to work seamlessly between workplace and home, and there needs to be ease of connectivity between people in the office and those working remotely.  You may need to provide additional training and support to assist team members in fully using the technology available as well as invest in new equipment to support effective and healthy remote working e.g. office furniture or mobile devices. 

 Wellbeing

 Every person’s experience in the past 18 months is unique, with different positive and negative aspects and the employee wellbeing implications of COVID-19 will require focus for some time. This may include supporting employees experiencing poor mental health, addressing specific concerns and anxieties about the return to the workplace and the impact of Long COVID. 

Whilst hybrid working may support improved wellbeing through reducing commuting time, providing employees with more autonomy around their schedules and extra time for health and wellbeing activities it also brings with it specific challenges around work-life balance and managing the boundaries between work and home. 

It is therefore important to understand the effect of the shift from working full-time in the office to hybrid is having on employees and their wellbeing.  Managers can help support the mental health of their teams by checking in regularly, having weekly one-on-one meetings, and making it clear that they are available to provide support as and when needed. 

A hybrid work model can be just as effective (if not more so) than having your employees in office full-time. However, just like any change, the move to hybrid requires planning. Knowing how to boost productivity and engagement through regular feedback, access to the right tools, and a culture built on trust, communication and collaboration is essential.

If you need any support or advice on hybrid working or any other HR issues, please get in touch. This article was first published in the August 2021 edition of The Business Exchange Bath and Somerset 

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