Communication: Important When Transitioning To A Hybrid Work Model

Although many organizations are allowing employees to work remotely, not all managers are thrilled with the arrangement. Some managers would like more on-site "face time" with their team.

After transitioning practically overnight in 2020 to remote work, some managers are struggling with pivoting again to manage a hybrid team. A recent Gartner survey of managers found that 40 percent feel more stressed and are logging more hours now than before the pandemic.

According to a managing partner at a midsize law firm in San Diego, remote work fears proved to be unfounded. He said his employees did not lose productivity or profitability going remote. He added that they "gained an improved morale" and he's surprised when some younger professionals want to come into the office.

A manager of 40 financial adviser assistants at a bank in Atlanta said most of her employees stayed in touch while working remotely, although those who did not "exhausted her." She said she would call some employees during the workday and not hear back for hours.

According to a freelance television producer in Los Angeles, having everyone working remote meant he took on tasks he would normally delegate. He said making a call or sending an email wastes valuable time compared with talking to someone in the same room.

A call center manager who has only met 12 members of her 25-person team said the lack of personal interactions during the pandemic made her job harder and more time consuming. She added that it takes more time to discover what support her team needs from her when they work remote.

A sales and support team manager said he's as productive and less distracted working from home. However, he missed the personal interactions and prefers the hybrid schedule his team is on now.

Finally, a manager of 11 software developers and test engineers said moving to all-remote was mostly successful. However, onboarding was more difficult and around half the team remained silent during video calls. She hopes the hybrid model her team is adopting will help junior employees get more involved. Jeanne Sahadi "How managers really feel about remote work" cnn.com (Jun. 21, 2021).

Commentary

Whatever the reason or timing for a transition, communication is essential for building cohesion, boosting employee morale, and maintaining productivity.

Employees are more likely to stay if they feel their manager communicates clearly and effectively with them and they understand the reason behind decisions.

If you ask employees to come back to the workplace, be clear about the reasons for doing so and why they are important. For instance, discuss the benefits of brainstorming new solutions in person so that everyone has a better chance to speak and collaborate.

If your employees want to continue to work from home and there is no clear reason why they need to be in the office, work with your organization and your team to provide more flexibility. A hybrid work model in which the entire team can see each other in the office on certain days of the week but employees are able to work from home on other days works well for many teams.

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