Setting Expectations for Remote and Hybrid employees
Employee preferences have changed over the past few years, and businesses are left with a new challenge with the new remote and hybrid workstyle. Research conducted by Owl Labs illustrated that 70% of the U.S. workforce would prefer to work in a remote environment. According to a report by Zippa, 66% of U.S. workers currently work remotely at least part-time. This trend continues to grow in popularity due to the benefits employees get and has many companies adapting to this new work environment.
What Are the Pros of Remote Work
We briefly mentioned that many employees want to be presented with the option to work in a hybrid or remote office because of the benefits of flexibility. One of the significant factors that a remote/hybrid workplace presents is the opportunity to create a work-life balance. This can lead to many benefits for the employee, such as reduced stress, saving time from commuting to an office, working from anywhere, being more engaged with their work, spending more time with kids, etc.
There are a lot of upsides for employees working remotely. But what about the companies? This also introduces a few new possibilities for a company to explore. For instance, employers can expand their talent pool outside their local region if the employee can complete the role and requirements on a computer. Companies also have less need to have a bigger office space. For the companies who adopt the hybrid workstyle, it opens the possibility to hire an employee outside of the office and allows the company to expand without looking for a bigger office for all of their employees. Companies also can save a lot of time and money regarding employee retention. Another article from Lumapps mentions flexible work builds loyalty with employees who look to work remotely or have a hybrid workstyle, which contributes to employees staying longer. This help saves costs by reducing the time needed to hire someone new.
What Are the Cons of Remote Work
Remote work has a lot of benefits, but it still needs improvement. Many challenges come with remote and hybrid office environments. For the employees, it can be challenging to have access to all the equipment they would typically have in an office setting. Most companies will supply a computer and a few extra accessories to help employees get up and running. Other items such as printers, office supplies, chairs, and desks may not be supplied for the employee, making it challenging to work if needed. Also, another obstacle is the separate office space dedicated to work. Some employees may be limited in the room they have to work in and have limited options for a place to work, such as their bedroom or living room. For fully remote employees, the challenge of isolation is another possibility. Some employees may need some time in an office a few days a week to help them become more engaged with day-to-day tasks.
As for the companies, they, too, will encounter other challenges of their own. Working in a remote or hybrid setting will require companies to think strategically to ensure employees can do their work. Communication will be a different challenge to overcome because of the fragmented communication that comes with remote work. Walking up to the individual you need to talk to in an office is much easier but more challenging when working remotely. Another factor can be when a company has employees in different time zones. If there is an established time for work hours, this may be fine, but if the company has a flexible schedule and workstyle set, things like communication and deadlines can be challenging to keep up with.
Work Environment and Expectations
So, companies are testing the waters with remote and hybrid work. Now what? There is an ever-growing list of questions about what is needed for a functioning remote work environment. An excellent first step is updating workplace policies and company resources to allow more flexibility. There should be a set of expectations from the beginning to set clear guidelines to set up the team for success. Here are some tips:
Stick to an agreed work schedule
It is essential to set the working hours agreed upon by all team members, especially when dealing with different time zones, where there is an expected time when everyone is online and available.
Have a communication strategy
Creating a communication strategy will establish the best way to reach out to any team member—factors like when to send communication for urgent and non-urgent matters and define the message’s importance.
Define goals and metrics
Plan out objectives that need to be met and work with the remote and hybrid workers to ensure the objectives are met in a reasonable timeline and provide any assistance to help move the goals forward.
Assist with the need for home office setup
See if there is anything the employee can use to help accommodate the needs to create a proper remote workstation and setup for success.
Help employees manage their time
Provide any assistance to help the employee manage their time accordingly. Using tools to track time can be incredibly beneficial to help break down the time the employee spends working on a task.
Have a centralized information system
Provide a way for all remote workers to connect to the office files easily. Cloud services like Dropbox, Google Drive, or OneDrive to manage files can be great tools for keeping files in a centralized location.
How to manage remote and hybrid teams once expectations
We have discussed the pros and cons and some tips to help manage remote and hybrid teams. This leaves us focused on keeping the wheels moving and continuing to have a successful remote and hybrid team. To keep remote and hybrid teams moving, it is vital to help with known issues that can come up in the foreseeable future. A remote worker may face technical issues after a period of time, and providing technical assistance is important to ensure the team has what is needed to remain functional. Establish regular check-ins to keep everyone on the team aligned with where they are in their tasks. Establishing methods such as daily stand-up, one-to-one meetings, specified meeting times, or a mixture of all can build a team’s support and camaraderie to thrive.
Without creating a plan to manage a remote team, everyday items can make it difficult to run smoothly. With this new remote and hybrid model increasing, it is crucial to understand that working in these conditions is a new skill that companies and employees must develop to succeed. Creating a strategy and documenting the guidelines for your team will drastically improve the effectiveness of your group, where all members are doing their best work and achieving their goals.