Hybrid workplace considerations for managers

The rewards of remote work can be substantial. Employees have reported higher job satisfaction because of the flexibility and have proven they aren’t slacking off just because they’re at home. And everyone has adapted quickly to the digital tools that enable remote work.

In the post-pandemic world, many companies will embrace the lessons learned from more than a year of telecommuting and not fully return to the office. A hybrid model (a combination of remote and in-person work), could be the future.

But a hybrid workplace has risks that need to be managed carefully. Businesses adopting a hybrid workforce will need to prepare managers for potential difficulties.

Hybrid workplace considerations for managers

Managers navigating a new normal in the hybrid workplace must recognise that each employee will differ in “hybrid competence” and need different levels of support. Some remote workers may require help getting resources, while others may want to feel more connected to the group.

Managers also have to be vigilant about worker visibility. They shouldn’t rely on — or reward — only the employees who are with them in the office. And remote managers themselves should be aware of their own visibility issues. They must ensure they are available to both remote and co-located employees, and they must not lose track of people or tasks that are being executed remotely. Managers who work away from their teams always run the risk of not knowing exactly what’s going on.

How could employees react to a hybrid workplace

The biggest worry of a hybrid workplace for employees is the potential creation of a power differential. Employees in the physical workplace can take advantage of all the resources available at the office, whether those resources are things or people. And employees who are in close proximity can more easily network and collaborate.

By contrast, remote workers may struggle with both personal and technical connections, making it difficult to demonstrate their competence. This can create a power differential as employees who have more access to resources, and are more visible, potentially could be seen as more powerful and influential in their team.

Another big worry for hybrid workers is that out of sight means out of mind. Not being present for informal interactions could leave remote workers feeling out of the loop and last to know, leading employees to feel more isolated and lacking the relationships and connections that provide social support.

Is hybrid here to stay?

The pandemic has accelerated an existing trend toward remote work. Whether the hybrid model becomes permanent remains to be seen. Questions such as how businesses can maintain a company culture have not yet been answered. Some business will find great advantages in it, from reduced office expenses to flexibility in hiring. But other firms may decide innovation, creativity and collaboration are better when everyone is together.

This article first appeared at www.brinknews.com. Read the full, unedited article and subscribe to get BRINK in your inbox.
Marsh Commercial is part of Marsh & McLennan Companies. BRINK combines knowledge and expertise from across Marsh & McLennan and is managed by Atlantic Media Strategies, the digital consultancy of The Atlantic. The content is subject to BRINK’s Terms and Conditions of Use.

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