Managing the hybrid workforce presents a unique set of challenges for those who are used to managing on site workers.
Understanding those challenges is the first step to addressing them – below, will look at a few of these pitfalls to watch out for, then explore some solutions.
5 Pitfalls to Avoid When Managing the Hybrid Workforce
Here are a few of the most common roadblocks that managers face when supervising hybrid teams:
1. Favoring one team over another
It can be difficult for managers to separate themselves from their own circumstances.
A remote manager may feel a closer bond with subordinates who are also remote.
On the other hand, a manager who works in the office may feel closer ties to onsite teams.
2. Not creating a consistent digital experience
The digital employee experience dramatically affects today’s workforce since most knowledge workers spend their times immersed in software. When everyone works onsite together, it is easier to create a digital experience that remains consistent.
After all, everyone is using the same software.
The same could be said for remote workers, since they often use the same tools and workflows.
However, when remote work and onsite work blend – or when contractors and gig workers come into the mix – it can be more difficult to create a digital experience that is seamless and consistent across locations.
A consistent experience not only streamlines employees’ workflows, it can also improve their productivity.
3. Not planning for a hybrid future
The future of work is hybrid, so it is critical to design workplaces built for hybrid teams and hybrid workflows.
Failing to plan ahead can increase inefficiencies, miscommunications, and negatively affect employee performance.
As noted elsewhere in this article, the hybrid workforce and workplace present a new series of challenges that, if left unchecked, can become worse overtime.
Under-communicating can be a problem in any scenario, but in a hybrid work environment, communication is more critical than ever.
Since hybrid teams and remote workers don’t have nonverbal communication cues, a normal level of communication often doesn’t cut it.
5. Not upgrading office equipment for hybrid teams
If an organization chooses to go the route of the hybrid office, they should consider deploying hardware that can further connect onsite employees to remote workers.
If an organization does not adopt the right equipment for the office, it can increase miscommunications and throw up barriers between onsite and off-site teams.
5 Ways to Tackle the Challenges of Hybrid Workforce Management
While there are clearly a number of obstacles and issues that must be addressed when managing remote and hybrid workers, the solutions are fortunately fairly straightforward.
Here are a few:
1. Deploy the same digital ecosystem both onsite and remotely
As mentioned above, it is important to create a consistent digital experience for employees regardless of where they are located.
One of the best ways to do that is by ensuring that all employees use the same digital tools.
Deploying cloud software is typically the best first step to take, since employees can use those platforms no matter where they’re working from – they will use the same software, the same workflows, and they will not need to relearn or switch work modes if they change devices or work locations.
2. Standardize business processes to use both onsite and offsite
Using the same software is one step towards creating standardized business processes and workflows.
A good next step to take is to document those cross-location workflows and embed them within the business.
Process mapping, business process management, process improvement methodologies, and similar tools can be used to diagram processes an ensure that they remain consistent for all workers across all locations.
Under-communication, as mentioned above, can be problematic for remote workers, leading to misinterpretation, miscommunication, and worse.
Managers should therefore over-communicate – that is, say and communicate more than they think is necessary.
Extra social time, both online and off, is another way to increase communication between hybrid teams.
4. Bring remote workers into the office with the right equipment
Remote-friendly digital tools can help create a consistent digital experience for hybrid teams, but it is only one tactic to take.
As mentioned above, the right hardware can also be used to create seamless experiences across locations.
Offices that want to “bring remote employees into the office” should consider equipment such as video conferencing tools: televisions, speakers, and other teleconferencing equipment.
5. Hold all teams to the same standards
It is certainly understandable that managers will feel a closer bond to those they work with most frequently.
While this is only natural, it can also interfere with objectivity.
Managers and leaders have always had to deal with this issue, and in hybrid teams it is no different.
Onsite managers who are supervising onsite teams, for instance, will naturally feel a closer social bond to those they connect with on a daily basis.
While this cannot be avoided, managers and supervisors can take steps to ensure that all employees are held to the same performance standards. In part, this can be accomplished through building leadership skills such as empathy, objectivity, and analytical skills.
Chris is the Lead Author & Editor of Change Blog. Chris established the Change blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to Change Management.