The push to return to the office is mounting. A recent survey conducted by ResumeBuilder.com reveals that 9 out of 10 companies will have returned to the office by 2024. Of those, 51% require some or all employees to work in person with another 39% planning to do the same by the end of 2024. If employees push back, 28% of companies surveyed intend to threaten to fire those employees.
The reasons cited by CEOs is that productivity, collaboration and employee engagement decrease in a remote setting. Ironic, given that studies show remote workers are anywhere from 5 to 9 percent more productive than those working in a physical office, according to Stanford University research. Add to that the impression employees have: 40% of employees say that online collaboration via social networks boosts their workplace productivity. And a Gallup poll found that 37% of remote/hybrid workers have higher engagement than those who work exclusively onsite (29% engagement).
So what’s really going on?
It would be easy to point to leadership and say that they simply don’t trust their employees. While that may have a grain of truth to it, it’s more complicated than that. Management is used to physically seeing and managing a team in person. Managing a hybrid team requires a shift in focus from the traditional management style.
That shift itself is more likely the stumbling block. However, it doesn’t need to be. Building that bridge between your employees takes some of the same criteria a manager would use for in-person staff, but with modifications that can vastly improve both in-house and remote team engagement.
Set expectations. Clear, mutually understood expectations make the difference between productive employees and missed opportunities. Management should know what they expect from employees. What constitutes a good result? How will your team measure and evaluate a worker’s performance against that standard? Know what productivity looks like and how your team will work toward achieving optimum productivity. When goals are clear, individuals can work with more accuracy and efficiency.
Build engagement. How will you bring teams in various locations together? How often? The biggest change in management style needs to be around how you engage your team members, individual employees, and collaborations. Set meeting schedules and agendas in advance and keep meetings on point. Talk with teams every week, and with employees regularly. Create an open door via video conferencing, chat applications, email, and even phone calls.
Shift focus. Productivity based on attendance and time spent on something isn’t really a good measure of results. Instead, focus on the outcomes. Set benchmarks. Check in. Measure progress to date. Review the outcome with your team members. Ask for feedback on how it might have gone better. Every chance your management has to promote and demonstrate a more collaborative approach should be taken. If your employees feel they’re part of the solution, their productivity and their problem-solving improve.
Remove old notions. A significant roadblock to managing remote and hybrid teams is the idea that all employees must be physically present in order to be managed. Not so. As a fully remote company, WAHVE has successfully managed teams and wahves. So can you. Walls are not required for you to get the best productivity from your team. Communication and a collaborative approach to running operations can strengthen your business in ways you may not have thought possible.
What do you think? What has made your company hesitate in adopting a more flexible workplace model?
Have you made the shift? If so, what lessons can you share about the experience?