Return to Work: How to Best Manage Hybrid-Remote Teams
In short, the recent pandemic has brought new challenges for everyone.
“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new” – Socrates
After the havoc that is the Coronavirus hit the world, hundreds of businesses adopted remote working. Though challenging, many of us have accepted this new normal. The abrupt shift was challenging for most businesses, but it was necessary to continue operations and meet their break evens.
If it weren’t for remote working capabilities, many industries would have been shuttered down completely for the past 9 months.
Now, as markets are reopening, business owners are experiencing a perplexing situation. Since employees bear the risk of catching the virus when they come back to work, many are showing an inclination to continue working from home as much as possible.
Keeping this preference in mind, employers have already announced facilities like increased sick leaves, work from home, and alternate shifts.
The recent situation where health and safety measures are mandatory, remote working models look like a safer option. In this plan, the workforce is divided into two shifts; one works on-site, and the other works from home.
Another variation is that employees perform some tasks remotely while they come to the site for tasks that cannot be completed otherwise. The plan facilitates the employees with greater convenience, less stress, and prioritizes health and safety measures.
Though looks convenient, this model comes along with various obstacles. From cybersecurity and communication to multiple technical barriers, the challenges of remote working are a great hindrance for many.
Let us shed light on some of the best practices to manage these hybrid-remote teams efficiently:
1. Measures for Data Security
Unlike remote working, security challenges for hybrid –remote teams are great. Therefore, acute security measures are vital. Such procedures build employee confidence, and sensitive information is not compromised. Just like the on-site measures, acute security practices for hybrid teams include:
- Multi-factor authentication
Setting up a multi-factor authentication system on all devices such as laptops, desktops, and phones are mandatory for running hybrid teams. This system should be implemented on devices used in homes as well as offices.
- Installation of Best Security Software
It should be made sure that employees have the best security and malware software installed. This will keep the devices protected from malicious links and cyber-attacks. Regular checks on software updates should be performed for both in-house and off-site devices.
- IT Support Team
A remote team for technical challenges should be setup. This will help employees in staying connected and resolve all technical issues that may occur in a new working model.
2. Smooth Collaborative and Communication Tools
One big challenge in managing the new set up is communication and accessibility. A smooth communication channel between the teams working on-site and the one working from home is imperative.
Similarly, collaborations between team members when they are off-site and on-site are also essential to smooth operations.
In this regard, tools like Zoom for video conferencing, Google Drive, and Microsoft Teams for collaborative work, Slack for quick messaging, and Skype for video calling are ideal options. Ora.pm is also an excellent choice for collaborative work.
Featuring time tracking and various other high-end features, the tool provides a user-friendly solution. Easily customizable, it provides great project management solutions and is helpful for daily and monthly tasks alike.
You can use features like the Kanban Board and Agenda View in Ora.pm to collaborate with your team members in real-time and get work done efficiently.
3. Setting Up Coherent On and Off-Site Work Policies
To ensure great productivity besides employee health security, predefined policies for office and remote employees are essential. Such policies should clearly define factors like per day outcome, monthly goals, updated sick leaves, safety protocols, and so on.
Return to work policies will differ greatly from the ones during COVID-19. Focusing on health-safety measures like screening, sanitization, and social distancing is imperative. Updating such policies will be necessary as employees start adjusting after a long break.
Use efficient tools for delivering updated policies. Regularly send e-mail alerts for adhering policies, arrange online workshops, set up video conferencing meetings, and let every employee know the current rules.
Take every possible step in facilitating your team. For instance, set up a new policy to provide masks, face shields, gloves, sanitizers, etc. Similarly, provide benefits to employees on the days in which they are working from home.
Facilitating them with a laptop and bearing the internet connection cost is a new policy in many organizations.
Whether you have a retail business or a carpet cleaning operation, you can effectively manage a hybrid team by defining a clear work policy.
4. Use Flex-Desking
Flex-desking refers to booking a desk before coming to the office. Besides maximizing resources, this idea will make the hybrid employees feel valued. Instead of wasting time in the cafeteria, they will have the desk ready when they are in the office for work.
Moreover, that will also reduce the risk of catching the virus, as the desk can be sanitized after an employee vacates it.
5. Create a Map or an App for Employees
Managing hybrid teams can become a big mess if resources are not properly managed. If every employee has individual devices, the resources will not be utilized fully. Thus, the expense of the business will increase. Though flex-desking is an ideal solution, employees need to know which meeting rooms are available, which desks are free, and in which shift?
Creating an app showing available resources to the hybrid employees can resolve this issue. Thus, productivity will get a boost as employees will be satisfied with this smooth procedure.
6. Feedback is Imperative
Hybrid working models are a new experience for many employees. Some will embrace it whole-heartedly while others get frustrated. Technical issues are likely to come. Employee-motivation is another big question. In this scenario, keeping the employees involved is the only solution. Regularly take feedback from every employee.
Ask them for good suggestion, notice their response, and keep editing your policies. For instance, some employees find one project management tool more convenient than others. Listen to their queries, explain every feature, and give enough time for training.
In short, the recent pandemic has brought new challenges for everyone. From the small scale and home-based businesses to well-established organizations, every other firm is experiencing challenges, and the answer has emerged in the form of hybrid and remote working.
Undoubtedly, managing these teams becomes challenging as businesses are not familiar with such arrangements. However, detailed planning, sound policies, use of collaborative tools, data security protocols, maximum utilization of resources, and employee feedback are some key points in smoothly managing this new trend of working.
How are you experiencing the recent return to your work? Share a few tips with us!