While different flexible work models have been in place across workspaces for years, we’ve seen a sharp increase in these approaches since the coronavirus pandemic began. Remote work offers well-documented benefits, but it isn’t the right work arrangement for everyone or every organization. Hybrid work is an excellent option for employees and teams who can work successfully in an office environment and remotely.
According to a recent Harvard Business School survey, the majority of professionals today want a hybrid workplace model where they can come into the office a couple of days a week as opposed to being fully remote or fully office-based. By offering such flexibility, businesses can improve the employee experience, access a larger talent pool, and maintain or increase productivity. As the hybrid workplace model becomes more prevalent, managers must ensure they’re doing all they can to support team members and offer a high-quality employee experience.
Managing a hybrid environment can be challenging if you’re making the transition for the first time. To help managers foster successful hybrid work environments for their employees, the ActivTrak team put together a list of tips and best practices.
What Is a Hybrid Work Environment?
A hybrid work environment includes the physical and digital resources needed to support a work model that blends in-office and remote work. In some cases, all employees will split their time between an office environment and a remote environment. In other cases, there might be three different categories of employees working within a hybrid work environment in the same organization — those who work on-site full time, those who work remotely full time, and those who work both on-site and remotely. In a hybrid work environment, organizations can leverage the full spectrum of work models — fully in-office, fully remote, or a blend of both — to identify the approach that helps employees work wiser.
Tips for Supporting Your Hybrid Teams
In-office employees, remote workers, and employees that split their time, all have different needs. As a manager, it’s your job to ensure that you’re giving all employees the support they need and fostering a successful hybrid environment that lets everyone feel included and valued no matter where they work. In addition to these tips for how to effectively manage a hybrid team, review the tips below for how to help you make your hybrid workplace a success:
- Create an equitable experience for all employees
In a hybrid environment, it’s not uncommon for a hierarchy to develop — either consciously or not — around when and where people work. As a manager, it’s important to emphasize that hybrid work is a work model that’s supported, not just permitted.
You should be conscious of proximity bias — the idea that employees who are physically closer to the office work harder or better than those who are further away — when evaluating employee productivity. One way to avoid bias is to focus on outcomes instead of individual actions, since people may work consistently, independent of their work environment. Another way to avoid bias is to make sure that leadership regularly spends time working in, and away from the office with whatever frequency they recommend. Modeling behaviors from the top is one of the best ways to show that all employees are essential, whether they come into the office daily or not.
- Prioritize online forms of communication
While watercooler chats or impromptu face-to-face meetings in a conference room are great when everyone’s in the office, they can occasionally leave hybrid workers out of the loop. To prevent this, managers should make using online communication channels — including messaging apps like Slack or video conferencing apps like Zoom — a default priority for everyone, not just remote workers or hybrid workers. That way, hybrid teams can stay connected no matter where individual employees are based.
- Encourage healthy work habits and work-life balance
One of the most important ways to foster a successful hybrid work environment is to encourage your employees to take care of themselves and maintain a healthy work-life balance. Hybrid work and remote work are similar in that some employees find it difficult to keep work hours from bleeding into personal hours, which increases the risk of burnout.
Promote a healthy work-life balance by delineating boundaries between personal and professional time in your organization’s hybrid work policy. For example, your policy can state that you don’t expect your hybrid team to respond to work emails sent outside of normal working hours or include provisions that all employees should take at least one personal day a month. Policies like these help your hybrid team members take time for themselves and resist the urge to be “on” all of the time.
- Cultivate a social and inclusive company culture
Creating a fun, collaborative, and inclusive company culture is important in any work environment, but it’s particularly important — and can be challenging — when it comes to hybrid work. Face-to-face interactions and watercooler-style conversations help hybrid employees stay connected on the days they come into the office, but there’s plenty you can do to create a social company culture online as well.
If you use messaging apps like Slack, try creating a few non-work-related channels. For example, consider creating a channel where employees can share pictures of their pets or one where team members can talk about their favorite reality TV show. No matter the interest, social messaging channels are a great opportunity for remote and in-office employees to connect to others in a hybrid environment. Also, if you have traditions that you started in the office pre-pandemic, try to continue those in your hybrid environment. You can take a poll and schedule in-person happy hours when your hybrid team members will be on-site to make sure as many people are included as possible.
- Help your team members understand how they work best
Workforce analytics software can help your employees work wiser in a hybrid environment. With targeted technology, you can unlock clear, data-driven insights into how your hybrid team works by digging into metrics like focus time, multi-tasking time, and collaboration time. You can also see how team members are performing relative to specific benchmarks and track their workload to ensure no one is at risk of burnout, or identify it before it becomes a wider issue.
Empowering your employees to take ownership of their own performance data and insights shows team members that you value their work and their personal improvement. It also empowers them to discover how, when, and where they work best so they can make the most of their time, leading to a more successful hybrid workplace and employee experience.
Creating a Successful Hybrid Work Environment with ActivTrak
The success of your hybrid work environment will largely depend on how you use technology to surface and understand the barriers to both individual and team performance, create healthy habits that drive better results in all work environments, and help teams work wiser overall. The ActivTrak team is here to help you create a healthy hybrid work environment with the help of our workforce analytics platform and a wide range of reports that deliver data-driven insights. Some of the reports that are most useful in a hybrid environment include:
- The Executive Summary: The Executive Summary gives managers quick, at-a-glance insights into key productivity indicators at a team level.
- The Work Efficiency report: This report helps managers identify the most common sources of unproductive work and sources of distraction across their teams.
- The Workload Balance report: This report lets managers see which employees are consistently working longer than usual, or atypical hours so they can better identify and address burnout risk.
- The Technology Usage report: This report lets managers see which websites and applications are being used most heavily.
- The Personal Insights Dashboard: This dashboard lets your individual team members get insight into their personal work habits, including the applications and websites that cause attention shifts and the times of day when they tend to be most focused. They can then use those insights to make proactive changes that boost productivity and improve their personal work experience and career trajectory.
Support Your Team Members No Matter their Work Environment
For many, the future of work is hybrid. Making sure your team members feel supported and empowered no matter how much time they spend in an office space is essential for creating a successful hybrid work environment. At ActivTrak, we believe that the hybrid model offers incredible opportunities for managers, employees, and organizations. By following the tips outlined above — and effectively leveraging workforce analytics — managers can create a hybrid workplace that helps every employee do their best work.
ActivTrak helps companies unlock productivity potential. Our award-winning workforce analytics and productivity management software provides expert insights that empower people, optimize processes, and maximize technology. Additionally, with data sourced from more than 9,000 customers and over 450,000 users, ActivTrak’s Workforce Productivity Lab is a global center for ground-breaking research and expertise that helps companies embrace and embody the future of work.