6 Tips for People Managers in the Year of Efficient Hybrid Work

May 11, 2023
Hybrid Work
6 Tips for People Managers in the Year of Efficient Hybrid Work

TL;DR Article Summary

Hybrid work, with employees splitting time between office and home, is the new normal. Here are actional tips for people managers who face challenges in overseeing hybrid work and keeping teams engaged.

  • Set Clear Expectations: Define work hours, communication protocols, and goals for a smooth workflow.
  • Encourage In-Office Collaboration: Facilitate team interaction through designated areas in the office.
  • Prioritize Face-to-Face Meetings: Utilize in-person check-ins for better understanding and building trust.
  • Offer Flexibility in Onsite Work: Consider options like preferred days or letting employees decide.
  • Celebrate Team Wins: Recognize achievements to boost morale, especially during challenging times.
  • Embrace Technology: Utilize video conferencing, project management tools, and space booking software to streamline communication and collaboration.

Re-focusing on efficiency — and transitioning from remote culture to high performance culture is a clear business priority of 2023. This philosophy was recently epitomized by Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg when he declared this would be the company’s “year of efficiency.”

With this shift, a majority of office employees in the 10 biggest U.S. cities are now back in the office multiple days per week, and according to Bloomberg, analysts expect the new normal for workers will be an approximate three day in-office week. And the ask makes sense, as hybrid working employees deliver on average nearly two extra weeks of work a year, according to Advanced Workplace Associates.

Hybrid work is here to stay, with employees spending some days in the office and some at home. The tremendous challenge now is the shift in how, when, and where employees do their jobs. Middle Managers must balance the daily needs of their team with policies from business leadership, and they often find themselves stretched with overseeing a dizzying patchwork of hybrid work arrangements on top of their existing responsibilities. According to Ceridian’s recent Pulse of Talent report, 9 out of 10 Middle Managers surveyed experienced burnout over the past year

For this reason, we’ve put together six tips for People Managers on how to manage a hybrid team to reduce stress and increase productivity, collaboration, and engagement – and avoid burnout themselves:

1. Set Clear Expectations and Guidelines

It’s important to set clear expectations for your hybrid team, such as working hours, desk policies, availability, communication protocols, and productivity goals. Make sure everyone understands their responsibilities and knows what is expected of them so that work is efficient and you spend fewer cycles on course corrections. 

While employees enjoy the flexibility of working from home, going into the office has its benefits. Make hybrid in-office days about communicating key messages in person versus heads down time. Provide employees a chance to socialize with colleagues, which is more important than ever with over half of U.S. adults experiencing loneliness.

2. Encourage Your Team To Sit Together When in the Office

Some companies moving to hybrid work are getting rid of assigned seating in favor of hot desking and office hoteling. To allow for better collaboration, some companies create “office neighborhoods” in their seating plans so teams can sit together in designated areas at flexible desks.

If your company uses a space management system with an interactive floor map, people can see in real time where team members are sitting and can reserve a desk in advance. Lean into this and encourage your reports to sit near one another. You’ll find that your team will be more dynamic and make decisions faster – reducing the need for all those static Zoom meetings. 

3. Hold 1:1s in Person Whenever Possible

1:1s in the office can be more personal and allow for better non-verbal communication. Face-to-face interactions help both parties better understand each other, as people pick up subtle cues that provide clarity around someone’s motivation and message that might otherwise be missed in virtual settings. For personal development and mentorship, this will go a long way. In-person check-ins lend themselves to establishing and maintaining a bond between people and developing an authentic sense of trust that offers many benefits. 

4. Offer Preferred Days for Onsite Work but Remain Flexible

A recent Flex Index report indicates that 51% of the U.S. companies surveyed offer some work location flexibility, and those requiring employees to return to the office usually mandate two to three days a week. According to many managers and leadership coaches in the study, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays are the preferred office days for employees.

But they also suggest that managers encourage coming in simply as much as possible to maximize facetime. Some companies choose Mondays and Fridays as their onsite days to bookmark the week with face-to-face collaboration. Other teams leave it completely up to the individual employee to give them control and true flexibility. Whatever you decide, be intentional about what’s best for your team and be willing to flex as things evolve. 

5. Celebrate Successes Together 

Making time to recognize wins, no matter how small or big, helps build a strong team culture and boost morale amid the current climate of employee angst during layoffs and economic recession. You can foster a sense of teamwork by:

  • Giving shoutouts of successes and milestones over Slack or preferred communication channels.
  • Encouraging team members to share their ideas and insights – including their thoughts on hybrid work implementation – and allowing them to do so safely and vulnerably.
  • Recognizing individuals and team accomplishments in a regular cadence, such as monthly or quarterly team awards.

6. Technology Is Your Friend

Workplace technology can help you manage a hybrid team effectively and reduce administrative burdens. Use video conferencing, messaging apps, project management, and space booking tools to keep everyone connected and enabled and yourself sane. Make sure everyone has access to the technology they need to work effectively and communicate with one another.

Particularly in a shared workspace or hot desking office environment, booking software and scheduling tools can allow employees to easily and safely transition between remote and onsite days without needing your help. Hybrid workplace tech can also help managers keep track of who, when, and where their team is working in real-time (as opposed to sifting through dizzying spreadsheets or muddled slack threads). 

Embrace Hybrid Work Today To Boost Workplace Efficiency

People Managers shoulder a big burden in the re-focus on efficiency, but they can leverage new hybrid work strategies to maximize productivity and decrease stress, anxiety, and burnout. While CEOs look to double down on performance culture, we must remember that it’s not an either-or tradeoff with a culture of wellbeing. We must examine what’s best for the individual and the company.

For more on what to consider as a modern leader today, read 4 Leadership Pillars of the 2023 Workplace. If you’re ready to start scheduling and booking desks and rooms, create your free Skedda account today.

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