Thanks to the COVID-19 outbreak, a permanent shift may be happening in office culture. Many companies have shifted to exclusively working remotely, and according to PWC, 72% of workers say they’d like “the option to work remotely at least 2 days a week,” even after it’s safe to return to the office.
But how can you set yourself up for success in this new work environment? Let’s discuss some of the basics of the new way of working, challenges facing different working options, and ways you can manage them to maintain your company culture in a new work environment.
Understanding the New Ways Of Working
In-office work was the predominant mode of work for decades – but that’s changing. Today, remote and hybrid work is becoming much more common. This is partly due to the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, but this shift was beginning even before this.
For example, in 2019, 42% of workers over the age of 25 with an advanced degree worked from home at least once. In the “new normal,” it seems likely that most businesses will adopt a hybrid model that involves both working remotely and coming into the office when necessary.
The Challenges of Different Working Options
In-office work, hybrid work, and remote work all pose different challenges. In-office work requires workers to commute – and to live somewhere near a physical office location. It also is more expensive, since you have to pay to rent out an office building.
Remote work has different challenges. It can be harder to manage remote workers and ensure productivity, and to create a cohesive team culture. Workers often report feeling more isolated and lonely when working from home.
The hybrid model combines some of these challenges. Workers get the benefits of both working in an office and working remotely – but managing the days that workers come in can be a struggle, and a hybrid model still requires your workers to live near a physical office location.
“Learn how to integrate remote working in a future workplace model by watching our webinar co-hosted with Deloitte titled ‘Back to Business: An essential guide for reopening the workplace’
Managing Different Working Options
So, how can you manage the new work environment? Whether you are working in an office, remotely, or with a hybrid model, there are a few great steps you can take.
Daily check-ins are a great step. Having managers check in with each of their direct reports each day ensures that your employees are organized and are prepared for their daily tasks.
Defining clear working hours is also important – expecting both remote and in-office workers to respond to messages between normal office hours, for example, helps reduce frustrations related to miscommunication and unresponsiveness.
It’s also important to measure performance differently. With a hybrid model where some people work from home, you can no longer focus on just tracking how long an employee works at their desk – but you need to concentrate on assessing their overall productivity and their quality of work.
Maintaining Company Culture Within A New Work Environment
One of the hardest parts of a remote work environment is maintaining a strong corporate culture. Here are a few tips you can use to help maintain your culture in a remote or hybrid working model.
- Communication – Encourage constant communication between employees and their managers to ensure they can always contact the people they need to speak to, and speak freely about their projects, and any issues they may be encountering.
- Flexibility – It’s important to recognize that hybrid and remote work is inherently different than in-office work, and provide your employees with more flexibility to ensure they work to their full potential.
- Activities – You can ask hybrid workers to come into the office for special events – like team dinners, corporate Christmas parties or birthday parties – or organize online-only events for remote workers. Take every opportunity you can to do fun activities with in-office, hybrid, and remote workers to build camaraderie. A couple of options you can adopt are virtual break rooms or fitness challenges. Virtual break rooms or coffee time can be set up to encourage casual conversation normally conducted on the office floor. At Trimble, we compete on step counts across teams, all across the world. This encourages not only fun rivalry, but it also boosts wellbeing.
- Rewards – Make sure you reward remote and in-office workers fairly, and avoid favoring one type of worker over another. This can lead to an unhelpful “us vs. them” mentality between remote and in-office employees.
- Acknowledgment – Always acknowledge good work publicly, and recognize employees who have gone above and beyond the line of duty. Public recognition is a powerful way to build loyalty, and leads to more engaged, effective employees.
Manage the New Work Environment more Effectively with these Tips!
The new hybrid work environment can be challenging. But with these tips on managing remote, in-office, and hybrid workers, you can take on this challenge, overcome it, and ensure your workers remain happy and productive.