July 28, 2021 by Andrea Rajic

8 Mistakes To Avoid When Implementing Hybrid Work

8 Mistakes To Avoid When Implementing Hybrid Work

Say you move from one country to another. You may have visited it before, you may even speak its language, but it takes a while until you fully adjust to living there. Becoming a resident of that country won’t happen overnight - it’ll take some work, some help from the locals, and some mindset shifts.

See where we’re going with this?

If you’ve only been flirting with the idea of hybrid work, you may realize it’s a bit more challenging to implement it in your company. Switching to hybrid means letting go of some old habits and perspectives, which can sometimes be difficult, especially if you need to lead your team through the change.

You’ll inevitably make a few errors here and there during this shift, so we’ve prepared a list of the eight most common mistakes companies make when implementing hybrid work. Hopefully, in your case, some can be fixed, and others avoided.

1. Saying No to Flexibility

More than half of employees across the US want to work from home three days a week. They’ve felt how productive they can be when working remotely and are not ready to give up on that work-life balance they’ve been struggling to create.

And if you keep in mind many people have already quit their jobs because they were required to return to the office, we could say the employees are dictating the future of work.

When did your employees clock in? When did they clock out? Did they have a 15-minute longer lunch break? These metrics simply don’t work anymore. Instead, people have realized it’s not about working hard but working smartly and efficiently.

By establishing new productivity metrics, such as the actual results of the employees’ work rather than the hours they put in, you can support your employees’ productivity and help them feel more engaged at work.

New studies have shown that our typical routines may not be optimized for giving our best at work. We’re actually most productive in the early afternoon - when most people take a break and have lunch.

Flexible work hours, when possible, can enable your employees to discover the time of the day when they’re most energetic and motivated so that they can provide their best performance for the team. Providing flexible workspaces to employees instead of centralized offices can make a big difference in the productivity and engagement of your teams, and in your bottom line, too.

2. Micromanaging Your Employees

When the pandemic started, you didn’t have much choice - you needed to trust your employees to complete the necessary work even when not in the office.

But that’s a good thing. Micromanaging your employees when they’re working remotely means:

  • You don’t trust their work ethics
  • You don’t think they’re tech-savvy enough to keep up with the tools you’re using
  • You believe they lack organizational skills

This kind of doubt creates a negative atmosphere in your team since you’re not treating them as grownups. Almost 70% of employees will even consider looking for a new job if their manager keeps interfering with them doing their work.

To avoid this, it’s best to set some ground rules: when you’re going to communicate, through which channels, when the employees are required to turn on their cameras or work with a time tracker on.

A change of mindset is simply necessary when switching to hybrid work because your employees also gain a certain degree of freedom when working remotely. When not in the office, they have their own time and resources at their disposal, and your job is to trust them they’ll do the best that they can with those resources.

Switching your focus from controlling when and how the work is done to your employee’s results will help you establish a better relationship with your team.

3. Not leading by example

Whatever you try to implement, you need to start at the executive level if you want it to be successful. By requiring your employees to come back to the office or embrace the hybrid work model completely, you’re asking them to navigate the shift independently.

But as a leader, you’re the one who should show them how to do it and help them cope with potential issues, rather than just letting them find their way through all the changes.

Switching to hybrid work isn’t just - hey, we’re a hybrid company as of today. It takes a lot of preparation and planning, and you can facilitate the process for everyone in your business.

Just like when you’re teaching your new hires what your company culture is about by setting an example, you should embrace the features of hybrid work before you ask your teams to do so.

  • Help them understand why you think it will benefit them, you, and your business.
  • Give them time to adjust and find the positive sides of a hybrid workplace that they will love.
  • Provide them with a reliable source of information on how their roles and daily workflow will now change.
  • Give them access to tools and skills they need to adapt to the new work model successfully.

4. Not Listening to Feedback

Let’s face it - we’re all doing this for the first time, and in some situations, we have no idea what exactly we’re doing. And that’s completely fine because we’re all learning.

But that means we have to learn from each other, too. Leaders or operation workers, we’re all in the same boat, and we need to find what works best for our businesses. But if you only rely on executives and department heads to create a successful business strategy in the hybrid workplace, chances are you’ll end up with a bunch of dissatisfied employees.

Why? Because you’re not listening to them.

Did you know that 64% of the world’s HR leaders say having appropriate feedback tools for your employees is critical? Your team members want to give you feedback, but they may feel discouraged if you don’t do something about it timely.

Your primary and most valuable resources are your people. Listening to them and applying feedback to build your hybrid company culture will result in an organization where everyone can be their most productive self while being appreciated and engaged. This inevitably leads to a better team atmosphere, greater business success, and increased profit.

5. Neglecting Your Remote Workers

In the beginning, the issue seems “small” - an average remote worker needs to wait longer for their problem to be fixed, compared to their coworkers who are at the office.

Then, it continues with fewer promotion opportunities, not being able to come to team building. Slowly, a remote worker starts being less productive because they’re not motivated to work - and increased productivity was their number one asset, to begin with.

Out of sight, out of mind, right? Remote workers are already prone to feeling disconnected from the office, as they’re not present as much as other colleagues, or not at all. This exclusion can significantly impact your remote workers’ mental health, so you should do everything in your power to make them feel like a genuine part of the team.

By creating an inclusive company culture while switching to hybrid work, you can prevent this from happening. Here are a few tips:

  1. Create clear criteria according to which your employees will get new career opportunities at the company.
  2. Set up a schedule for in-office work. You can have everyone come to the office on the same day or assign specific days to each team, so they can meet and chat, brainstorm, and hold meetings when necessary.
  3. Have an “open-door” day for your remote workers and encourage them to talk to you whenever they feel like they have an issue that you can help resolve.

6. Focusing on the Superficial Aspects of Business

Although having an office schedule is essential and comes in handy, it’s only a superficial aspect of your business that you need to analyze and prepare for the shift. There are so many processes that may need to be optimized to keep up with the new way of work.

Start with your finances and accounting. What does hybrid work mean for the way you currently manage your finances? Will there be any expense cuts that you can use to improve another process? For example, reduce your office costs by moving to a smaller space. You may be able to afford automation software for your accounting department so they can work more efficiently.

What about your payroll and hiring process? Will you be looking at the global talent pool now? How does your onboarding process change?

As you can see, getting your team Slack accounts is only the surface of becoming a hybrid company. That’s why we’ll give you seven main business areas you should focus on and evaluate the effects of switching to hybrid work.

  • Company policy
  • Finances and accounting
  • HR - recruiting and onboarding
  • Technology and equipment
  • Operations
  • Business strategy
  • Marketing

7. Not Embracing Asynchronous Working

The typical sync planning may have worked for some businesses until now, but the hybrid work model may call for switching to the asynchronous way of organizing your business. If there’s a delay in a sync pipeline, everything stops as the workflow entirely relies on the previous step. No one can move forward until that step is completed.

However, the new workplace requires people to be faster. That’s why embracing an asynchronous pipeline can provide much better results than the traditional one. Asynchronous work allows you to brush up on your work without feeling pressured and helps you achieve that balance between speed and quality.

In asynchronous planning, you divide your tasks into smaller ones, as small as possible. Your employees would be checking in more frequently and submitting a larger number of smaller tasks, which can have a positive impact on your workflow for two reasons:

  1. When there’s an issue, you’ll be able to react promptly without letting the problem become more significant as time goes by.
  2. Your remote workers won’t wait too long until their problem is solved, so there will be fewer delays in the workflow.

According to a Buffer survey, this can be highly beneficial for businesses that operate in multiple countries and time zones - which is over 70% of companies across the US.

How can you facilitate asynchronous working for your team? First, check out some project management tools - most of them enable you to organize your work this way and break your team’s tasks into smaller ones so they can perform more efficiently.

8. Neglecting Interpersonal Relationships in Your Team

A survey showed that almost 90% of bosses believe their employees quit because they were unhappy with the salary. They couldn’t be more wrong.

A lack of appreciation, poor management, and poor mental health are among the top 10 reasons employees leave their jobs. Many team leaders and managers come to these positions without having gone through proper leadership training to learn some of the most valuable soft skills for the modern workplace: communication, giving and receiving feedback, empathy, active listening, and more.

Interpersonal relationships at the workplace have a bigger impact on an employee’s productivity and engagement than you may think. So how can you make sure you’re nurturing a happy and healthy team?

  • Give your employees time to bond and get to know each other by organizing informal chats and team building. Almost 40% of people feel happier going to work if they have a “work buddy”.
  • Again, lead by example - transparent communication and showing appreciation are good ways to go. When there’s an issue, tackle it immediately and be honest, rather than letting negative energy pile up and cause even more trouble.
  • Newer studies show that millennials and GenZ employees appreciate the power and intellectual stimulation more than some other workplace happiness factors that used to have more impact. Bear this in mind when thinking about how you can show your team you appreciate their efforts.
  • Encourage teamwork and collaboration, not only between people on the same team but also among teams.
  • Encourage people to strive for work-life balance - by implementing employee wellbeing strategies, not only do you show them that you care for their health, but you also help them embrace self-care as a habit.
Andrea
Written By

Andrea Rajic



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