Though remote work has been in existence for a long time, it is only during the current pandemic the larger shift to remote work happened. According to Gallup surveys, when the lockdowns hit in March 2020, 31% of US employees worked from home some or all of the time. A month later, it increased to 70%. Remote work gained currency in 2020 after it was proved through various studies that productivity either stayed the same or improved during the lockdown. Now, even after the pandemic comes to an end, some 50% of the workforce is expected to work from home for at least part of the time.
But there are many situations where employees need to come to the office and the hybrid work model provides a perfect combination of both on-site and remote. In this article, we’ll share some ideas to manage your global team effectively and promote innovations in hybrid work and increase productivity in the hybrid work environment.
Whether employees work from home or office, it is the duty of the management to create a uniform work culture. When it comes to rewards, promotions, pay hikes etc., people who work from home should also get an equal opportunity as their counterparts who work from the office. Most of the time, people who work from home are overlooked as they are not visible to the top management even though they might be putting in extra hours of work.
Since your hybrid team will not be sitting in a single location, the companies should provide access to cloud-based tools that can be accessed from any location. As face-to-face meetings are slowly becoming a thing of the past and 95% of the workforce are keen to use online business collaboration tools instead of in-person meetings, you need a cloud-based tool like Clariti that can be accessed from anywhere. Clariti is a SaaS-based office messaging software that provides integrations with all the major cloud storage drives such as OneDrive, Google Drive, Dropbox, pCloud and Mega. So, when you are working from home you don’t have to worry about carrying all your files from work. Once you integrate your drives with Clariti, you will have instant access to all your files anywhere, anytime.
Most organizations use multiple apps for their day-to-day work and communications. The number of software apps deployed by large firms across all industries worldwide has increased 68% over the past four years, reaching an average of 129 apps per company, according to an analysis by Okta Inc. This growing trend leads to information silos and increases the time involved in searching for information. McKinsey reported that employees spend 1.8 hours every day—9.3 hours per week, on average—searching and gathering information. This is a serious problem that affects your productivity and work-life balance.
For effective business communication, you need a unified communication system like Clariti that combines all your communications from emails, chats, calls, documents in cloud storage and to-dos in one app and arrange them based on topic or context. So, whenever you want to refer to any conversation or file, you can retrieve it in a few seconds.
A study points out that on average, each Slack user sends more than 200 messages per week and there are power users who send 1,000 messages per day. A common grouse against these tools is you can get stuck in long and never-ending group chats that demand your attention 24/7. It puts pressure on you to be online & available all the time. Also, since team members mostly use channels and not specific topics, context gets lost, and information gets buried. With a deluge of messages and notifications, you will end up losing important information that can have serious implications on your work. So, limit the messages in channels or better still use a tool that supports asynchronous communication like Clariti.
There is no doubt that emails and instant messaging are indispensable, but audio and video calling can offer more. Companies must make sure that their employees have access to audio calling and video conferencing tools so that they can collaborate more effectively. Audio calling and video conferencing are great substitutes for face-to-face meetings where your workforce can collaborate instantly and share thoughts in real-time. This is a great way to reduce misinterpretation or miscommunication that can happen when employees are not physically present in the same location.
In the office, employees will get a lot of opportunities to chit-chat with their colleagues. In the hybrid work too, team leaders should create opportunities for teammates to mingle freely with their colleagues. Managers should make sure that remote teams don’t miss out on celebrations like birthdays, company events and get-togethers. Employees who are working from remote locations should also be participating in the same fun activities as their counterparts who work from the office. Managers should make time for after-work chats where remote employees can discuss things that are happening outside their work lives. Companies should create informal channels where employees can talk casually and get to know about each other.
Companies use a lot of tools for collaboration and most of them assume that their employees will be able to handle these tools without training. Some companies provide training to team leaders only and ignore other employees. To make hybrid collaboration effective, organizations must ensure adequate training is provided for their entire workforce to make them digital-ready. Companies should also conduct a skills gap analysis to find out areas of weakness and address them effectively to make collaboration with remote teams seamless.
In the hybrid work environment, since the employees are working from various locations, they may not have the right infrastructure to make collaboration effective. Different time zones, slow Wifi connections, and poor audio/video quality are some of the challenges they will be facing. Technical issues on both the hardware and software sides are a major challenge for collaboration in hybrid teams. To manage the unique dynamics of hybrid workspaces, companies should pitch in and ensure that everybody has access to the right tools and technologies. Many companies have started providing cash allowances for their employees to set up home offices.
The bright side of the pandemic is it is forcing the entire world workforce to experiment, try new ways of doing things and develop new collaboration skills that will hold them in good stead for the rest of their career.
Remote collaboration cannot be learnt overnight, and it is an art that has to be mastered over time. The team leaders and managers are still learning how to manage teams and their remote workforce. In the coming months, teams will learn hybrid working etiquette and managers will learn how to manage their hybrid workforce more effectively. The most important thing the top management can do is show their teams that they’re deeply committed to making a hybrid workforce successful and meaningful for everyone.