Learning to navigate productivity in the workplace during a pandemic began as a challenging feat among businesses around the world. Unsure how to provide all the tools needed to complete tasks, setting up remote workstations and processes, and fostering communication during this time, proved difficult and tedious. Many obstacles popped up as companies and individuals thoughtfully tried to create this new way of working. However, throughout this taxing time, the workforce and its employees have built a toolbox of resources and practices to sustain remote and hybrid models, despite the lingering pandemic. The hybrid model is about adjusting how teams work together and creating encounters that meet the needs of everyone involved.
What the Pandemic Has Taught Us
Fundamentally, the in-person work model made the most sense to us pre-pandemic. In-person meetings, face-to-face teamwork, and focus on the task at hand, seemed more attainable and valuable within the office walls. However, many businesses and employees are now seeing the practicality of working remotely and/or hybrid. We learned that being in the office is not always a synonym for productivity and going forward, many businesses are changing their work environments to reflect this experience. Businesses can thrive and grow with the hybrid model and in some situations, it makes more sense. Cutting unnecessary costs on office space, travel reimbursement, and creating a happier, more flexible work experience for their employees all figure into this decision to embrace the hybrid model of work. Having the ability to meet in person and work from home is possible and, as we are currently seeing, a sustainable and popular way of operating post-pandemic.
Leading a Team in the Hybrid Workplace
One significant adjustment and challenge is being a leader in the hybrid work model. Effectively communicating, engaging, and encouraging your team in this unique environment can be tricky and sometimes disconcerting. When adapting to this new model, there are some things leaders can do to help ease their team and themselves.
- Find what works. Research technology and find solutions for you and your team to share information and perform daily tasks. Not only will this help in the hybrid workplace, but it may also improve processes overall. For example, project management software is a useful tool for keeping your team on track and sharing status updates to clients consistently.
- Create a conscious flow of communication. This can refer to daily or weekly team huddles, one on ones, or team meetings. At the same time, filter out meetings without an agenda or purpose. Give your employees back the time that could be wasted on a habitual meeting that may not have direction or productivity.
- Simplify processes. Re-visit your workflow and processes to weed out unnecessary steps and procedures. Reduce duplicate efforts and encourage your team to add their input on different ideas of processes that may help streamline workflow. Identify software that can be used to implement new strategies (Teams, Outlook, Zoom, etc.).
- The 3 Cs: clear concise communication. In a world where you cannot always just pop into your team or co-workers’ office, commination is key, but be careful not to be unproductive in your communication. Everyone’s time is valuable, so communicating key details and questions regarding work is important. Be concise and clear on what you are trying to get across, attempt to leave no room for question or misunderstanding. Do not be afraid to pick up the phone when your email is not conveying the right tone or importance.
- Be social. Talk to your team on an appropriate personal level. Leave time to talk about weekend plans, fun events, or general happenings. Work-life balance has shifted post-pandemic, and family has been moved to the top of priorities where work may have once been. Engage and create a “family-like” atmosphere at work where your employees feel seen, and they know you recognize what is important to them.
- Accept what you cannot control. There will be hiccups and that is okay. Everyone is adjusting to this new normal and engaging in a growth mindset will help curb frustrations and foster acceptance. When an issue arises with the hybrid work model, learn from it and initiate steps for the issue to not happen in the future.
- Develop your team. Continue to encourage growth and challenge your team. Losing focus on one’s career path is more likely in a hybrid model with fewer personal interactions and distractions more constant, so do not let development take a back-seat. Networking, mentoring, team building, and conferences are available to help with growth and development within the workforce and Crosworks provides many services to assist in team growth, development, and engagement
Being a Productive Employee in the Hybrid Workplace
It is easy to get distracted when working remotely and as employees, establishing structure and developing tools to continue productivity is essential. Making a priority of going into the office when necessary and dedicating specific times to completing tasks at home will help increase productivity. Setting a schedule that works for you and your stakeholders, including your employer, assists with communication efforts and expectations. Some helpful tips in establishing a successful hybrid working model as an employee are:
- Designate a work area when working from home.
- Create task lists and rank by the level of importance.
- Communicate often and effectively with team members and superiors.
- When applicable, attend in-person meetings and events within the organization to maintain a presence within the organization.
- Streamline workflow and processes to enhance performance and productivity.
- Be adaptable to changes due to hybrid work models.
- Ask questions and voice concerns. This is new for everyone in the organization and by listening to one another, improvements in the new workplace can be made.
- Be patient with yourself and your coworkers. Assume good intentions. Everyone could be operating on a slightly different schedule, so establishing timelines can be beneficial when relying on others to complete your work.
- Talk with your superiors frequently to keep up to date and remain aware of current changes and/or tasks.
- Think creatively when producing new ways to perform your job and stay involved in a hybrid model.
Maintaining Company Culture
Whether you are a leader or employee, it is important to engage and maintain your already existing company culture. Just because your work environment has changed does not mean you have to disregard events, team-building exercises, and morale-building experiences. Consider holding virtual options for events for any employees working remotely. Streaming speakers, conferences, and even office parties can assist in keeping the company culture alive. Use innovative thinking to try and include those who cannot be present. Engaging them in key points of conversation and asking them to present or contribute virtually is one example of how this can be accomplished. Consider developing an electronic shared space for comments or chats regarding events and office experiences.
Forward-thinking and adaptability will enhance the hybrid workplace. Crosworks consultants have expertise in connection and communication and can assist in navigating these evolving hybrid environments. Helping to create an equitable, productive, and positive workspace for clients whether they are at home or in the office is an objective we want to help you achieve. Reach out today to see how we can assist you and your business.