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Four tips to transition to a hybrid work environment.

When the COVID-19 pandemic began, many companies transitioned rapidly from in-office work to exclusively work-from-home. Today, as organizations consider returning to an office in some shape or form, a different kind of transition is on the horizon. Many are considering a hybrid work environment. What does it look like to make these changes and how can organizations support their employees in a shift toward hybrid work?

First, let’s explore the benefits. Why go hybrid? You may be surprised to find employees on both sides of the equation. According to a recent workplace survey, more than 70% of professionals want flexible remote work options to continue, but 65% are ready to be in-person with their teams. The flexibility of a hybrid approach enables your company to connect with the needs of all your employees.

What does it take to find success with some employees remote, others in the office and a handful spending time in both worlds? Explore actionable ways you can support your team through this transition and ensure productive work is still accomplished.

  1. Check-in with employees.

    Up to 99% of companies are planning sweeping changes to the workplace as a result of COVID-19, according to a global workforce study. Wondering how your employees will handle a different work environment? Ask them! Through in-person or video calls, start having conversations with your team about their individual situations.

    Take the time to listen to their concerns. From childcare to commutes, work preferences to connectivity, everyone’s situation is different and countless factors can influence how they’re feeling about remote or in-office work. You may not have a solution to their concerns at the moment, but you can keep what you’ve heard in mind as your organization works toward an effective arrangement.

  2. Share expectations clearly.

    When it’s time to put new practices into place, be clear with what’s expected of employees. Simplify new protocols and share them through company communication channels. Clearly state what employees need to know — what you’re going to do, what’s required of each employee and how you’re going to keep up communication throughout your day-to-day work.

    Your team will want to know who is working where, how often they need to come in and how they’ll be communicating with team members remotely or in the office. Be abundantly clear about any COVID-19 protocols in place, including social distancing and/or mask mandates, depending on your local government’s guidance. Let your employees know what technology to use and get everyone on the same page so no one is left out of important conversations.

    As your organization goes through significant changes, it’s a great opportunity to emphasize your company culture. Showing how your company culture fits into these new practices will help you continue empowering employees and build your business for long-term success.

  3. Ensure all voices are heard — regardless of the setting.

    Some professionals assume that people working in an office are more productive than those who aren’t. For some workers, working from home actually boosted productivity. Office leadership can support their team by keeping a balanced perspective and open mind about productivity in different settings.

    Studies show that even after COVID-19 restrictions are decreased, 98% of meetings will include participants joining from home. To ensure all employees are on equal footing, consider reviewing technological tools and making sure each team member has access to the tools they need to succeed.

    Set clear communication standards to help employees connect whether they are online-only or working in the office. If hybrid meetings are happening, take special care to ensure both virtual and live voices carry equal weight and no one is left out for not being physically in the room. Be conscientious about one-off, sporadic meetings happening in the office and ensure those working-from-home are not excluded. Through this evolution of space and communication, you can take steps to involve all team members equally in your hybrid work environment.

  4. Help employees avoid exhaustion.

    During any dramatic change, it’s important to manage employee well-being and ensure your team can find healthy work-life balance. Pay attention to your colleagues’ behaviors and emotions. Exhaustion can manifest itself in many ways. By opening a running dialogue and watching for burnout, you can help prevent negative effects in your employees from changing work environments.

    What might this exhaustion look like? Team effectiveness experts warn leaders to pay attention to out-of-the-ordinary actions. For example, you may notice a team member who usually chats up the room is unusually quiet. Others may tend toward more aggressive behavior and become impatient with or agitated by their colleagues.

    When noticing any of these worrying behaviors, leaders can take steps to alleviate exhaustion and work out options for their team members. This may include helping them change their work environment, getting clear on what’s really a top priority or editing a project’s deadline or requirements.

    Research shows that 41% of employees around the world are considering changing employers in the next year. By taking the time to ensure your transition to a hybrid work environment supports each of your team members, you have the chance to diffuse this statistic within your organization. Showing employees that you hear them and support them can make a big difference in their career decisions and the success you have as an organization.

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