Managing A Hybrid Workforce Through Leadership
Guest post by the team at Aura Office Environments. Original blog post here.
According to the American Psychological Association, roughly 3 out of 5 workers report they’re currently experiencing the negative effects of work-related stress.
44% feel physical fatigue, and over one-third of respondents are dealing with cognitive and emotional weariness. All of these workers are at risk of burnout. Mass burnout makes the workplace environment untenable.
Burnout is a state of exhaustion caused by prolonged stress.
At work, people burn out when they’re overworked and under-rewarded. Lack of control, lack of rest, conflicting values, and a lack of community are contributing factors.
Done well, a hybrid work model can mitigate the risk of burnout. It can restore a degree of choice to employees, enable stronger interpersonal connections, and honour personal values.
But just how does a leader manage a hybrid workplace? We’ve got you covered. Read these strategies for hybrid workforce management, and beat burnout for good.
How To Manage A Hybrid Workforce: Overview
Hybrid workforces come with unique tensions. The keys that underscore all these management strategies are balance and communication.
Balance means not taking any tactic to an extreme. Instead, be mindful of your intent with all choices. And, continually observe the impact of each choice, to determine how it affects other dynamics.
Remember the importance of these leadership skills.
Envision Hybrid Workplace Environment
The office still matters to a hybrid workforce. One dynamic that can arise with hybrid work is that the office becomes the default place for collaborative work, while the home is better suited to solitary work.
Alternately, the office may be where you can meet clients, or receive confidential data. Identify what the office is best suited for.
Hybrid Office Design Features
Redesigning office space for a hybrid workforce can inspire spaces that facilitate creativity and collaboration. It may also look more polished, as it’s a space to give presentations.
Creativity is fueled by passion and inspiration. The office’s design thinking process should incorporate sources of inspiration. Consider exploring office design articles to discover what clicks.
At the same time, experience your design vision with all five senses. Does your office offer a quiet respite from a chaotic home? How does it smell? What colours does it present?
You know what SMART goals are. They’re specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.
But knowing is only half the battle. As the leader of a hybrid workforce, you must get the information you need to develop workable goals.
What is actually achievable remotely, and what must be done in person? What does everyone’s timeline look like?
Use tools and techniques like a shared calendar and time-blocking to get everyone on the same page. Understand how people are prioritizing tasks, and communicate clearly if that needs to change.
With the right data, SMART goals can help you set reasonable, meetable expectations—no matter where your team is.
Empower employees to set their own SMART goals that are compatible with the company’s wider goals. Whenever possible, let them choose tasks and schedules that reflect their values, needs, and passions.
Encourage team members to develop reasonable KPIs for their personal work goals. And, on that note, don’t spy on employees.
Don't install “nanny” software to track remote employees’ work. How often someone is typing matters less than if they’re getting results. If they aren’t meeting expectations, address that. But, if they are, let them work on their own path.
If you want to learn how to lead a hybrid workforce, hone transparent communication skills.
Make decisions in a transparent process. That means, it should be clear to all employees what needs, goals, and resources you’re weighing when you develop and execute strategies.
Transparency isn’t just for the big-picture strategies. Communicating job tasks, timelines, and daily metrics gives employees an accurate sense of where the work is.
This is useful grounding when employees are physically in different places.
Develop Collaborative, Flexible Workflow
Cultivate a workflow that makes sense for the team. For a hybrid workforce, the best workflow is one that easily adapts to different schedules.
It should be easy to determine priorities. Project management tools like Trello and Asana make tasks and workflows visible. These apps can help you identify bottlenecks. Then, you can alter your strategy to fix them.
Establish Work / Home Boundaries
Make sure employees don’t feel “invaded” when they work from home. One significant source of stress is the feeling one can never clock out in a hybrid workforce.
To avoid that stress—and subsequent burnout—try a few boundary-setting strategies.
You might create a “no communication” policy when someone is not scheduled to work. Make it clear that you don’t expect anyone to answer emails outside of their business hours. Back up this expectation with your actions.
You can also try setting company-wide non-work times. This sets a work/rest rhythm for the whole team, which can help people sync when they’re in different time zones.
Facilitate Friendly Social Connection
Personal connections and camaraderie are great ways to strengthen your workforce. You might try to facilitate virtual social events to help your hybrid team feel more connected.
Ideally, the social events will be camera-optional. Many employees report “zoom fatigue,” so removing the stress of being on camera makes it more fun for people.
Virtual events should balance something structured and interactive, like a lighthearted game, and unstructured open conversation time.
Use surveys to get your team’s input on these events. The right games, frequency, and time will vary from group to group.
Speaking of zoom fatigue: make meetings better.
Managing a hybrid workforce may mean that a weekly meeting is the only time everyone’s here in person. Or, it may mean you’ll have to navigate hybrid attendance: some virtual attendees, and some in real life.
The best meetings are streamlined and goal-oriented. All attendees should understand the purpose of the meeting beforehand. Communicate expectations clearly if members are supposed to present status updates.
Create Spaces to Thrive
The workplace environment has a huge impact on employees’ well-being. That’s why strong leaders think deeply about the space in which they work.
Hybrid work poses some unique challenges to the modern manager. But a challenge is merely an opportunity to think creatively.
How can interior design solve the challenges in your hybrid workplace? Get inspiration from Aura's portfolio.
Aura Office Environments is Canada’s leading interior design firm that offers a complete turnkey solution to accommodate unique needs.