Offices have begun to re-open and workers are starting the shift back to in-person life on a global scale. However, most employees (in fact, 60–80%* of them) now say that they want flexibility in whether they choose to work in the office or at home. As a leader, how do you manage this new reality?
At Teemyco, we conducted over 50 interviews on the topic of hybrid work before the pandemic and the challenges it brought to our working lives; and we have continued speaking to users ever since. Having a mix of in-office and remote workers can create silos, and an “us and them” culture. Avoiding information flow bias, perceived career progression discrimination and the creation of a whole-office culture is what we try to address through our product.
We want to share the basic learnings from our research to help leaders build an efficient and inclusive whole-office culture. Here are our top 12 tips:
1. Share information in an online way first
When the pandemic hit, leaders scrambled to find a way to communicate important information. Many created processes using email, Slack or other messaging services. Continue to share information in this way so that no-one feels unincluded, or receives the news later than in-office staff. Over-communicate at every opportunity and maintain online meetings and standups as standard.
2. Always speak through the screen
Encourage online behavior, even for those in the same office. In our team, all attendees at digital meetings speak to each other through the screen regardless of whether they are sitting together. Room-sharers use audio on only one laptop (person in the middle is best) to avoid echo issues.
3. Keep remote-friendly social activities going
Lunch roulettes, team building games, lunch & learns (for inspiration check here) — continue to keep these activites digital first. Standardise activities so that they become accepted as another part of the working week.
4. Be visible in your online office
Teemyco powered offices move your primary presence into the virtual space, and enable your team to see each other & interact ad hoc regardless of where they are working from. For this to work in practice, it is essential that everyone is online.
5. Clarify expectations
The foundation of any successful hybrid team is to be clear on expected behaviors, policies and the use of work tools. Create a handbook with clearly outlined processes and conventions for working online so that all team members understand how to work together.
6. Be conscious of the emotional needs of your team
Working remotely can be a challenging experience, especially for more social individuals. Normalize speaking about how working in a hybrid way feels, and provide your employees with useful ways of managing stress and managing their mental health. At Teemyco, we recognised this need, and launched a Meditation Room which (at no extra cost) helps caring leaders provide workers with a positive mental focus tool- without needing to implement an external wellness scheme through a private provider.
7. Use digital tools first
I’m honest — I love a physical whiteboard & using a pen even more than the digital versions (Miro, Mural & Co.). But, I also love my team and I want to be an inclusive manager. In hybrid teams, everything needs to be documented digitally in order to include the full team. Other benefits to using digital tools as standard include having catch-up information for employees who have been on vacation, as well as reading material for new hires.
8. Indicate your status
The Teemyco status indicator enables teams to be more efficient. Displaying your status can help you organize impromptu get-togethers, understand if you are in fact in the physical office that day, be considerate of timezones and be aware when someone might not be responsive due to illness, travel or sick kids.
9. Review policies and allowances
Consider providing a remote allowance package which allows users freedom to choose their own local benefits solutions. Provide a set amount for co-working space rentals, insurances, gym memberships etc, giving flexibility to the employee in a simple way for the employer.
10. Maintain a remote-conscious leadership plan
It is important for leadership to embody your organisation’s hybrid-work philosophy. If you don’t have “head of hybrid happiness” yet, why not assign the rotating role of “remote-advocate” in your leadership team? This person’s duty is to actively approach discussions and decisions being made through the lens of the primarily non-office-workers.
11. Evaluate and adjust
Listen to your team and adjust over time. Provide a safe space where opinions can be openly heard, where disagreement can occur in a constructive way. Mentimeter provides anonymous question & feedback functionality to truly listen to what your team is thinking.
12. Provide options for undisturbed physical space
Lastly, chances are office-lovers will come to the office less if they cannot speak undisturbed with their co-workers, or host external meetings. With more colleagues now working digitally first than before, it is advisable to provide an office space which has bookable rooms where possible and provide headphones to every employee.
For more tailored advice, a chit-chat, coffee in our office or a demo on how to best create a one-office-culture in your virtual office powered by Teemyco, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Loads of love from our “teem” to yours,
Co-founder & CEO of Teemyco
*McKinsey: What employees are saying about the future of remote work; State of Remote work Covid Edition 2020, USA data, OWL Labs / Global Workplace Analytics