The hybrid workforce is shifting the way work gets done. Today’s blended workforce includes a combination of on-site employees and those who work remotely rather than a team that works strictly in the office. This model will likely remain the new normal long after the pandemic, as the majority of employees prefer to work from home at least part of the time. Though many struggled to grow more productive when first making the change, 63% of employees now say they’re more productive while working from home than at the office.
To excel as a hybrid workforce, organizations must ensure they have the right technologies in place to streamline workflow processes and enhance productivity across their teams.
Why does technology play a critical role in the new workforce?
We’ve all heard of (and most likely experienced) “pandemic fatigue” or “Zoom fatigue.” But the types of technological solutions chosen—and our strategies for using them—can have a major influence on our ability to perform at our best. From the leader’s standpoint, the right technologies can enhance our ability to manage our teams, track their progress, and facilitate thoughtful collaboration, among other benefits. From the employee’s standpoint, collaboration, performance improvement, and connectivity will all happen more naturally with tools that allow for seamless integration of in-house and remote staff.
These tools can help avoid the creation of “cliques” of those who work in the office more often and those who primarily work remotely. By fostering clear, consistent communication between in-house and remote employees, these technologies will help everyone feel like part of one team.
What types of technologies does the hybrid workforce demand?
Let’s examine the most critical technologies to implement in a hybrid workforce. Consider which ones may fill the most pressing needs in your organization today. If you don’t yet have these solutions in place, you’ll probably want to begin implementing them in the near term to strengthen engagement, communication, and individual development.
Performance management solutions
The right tools can help you stay informed about how employees are performing and where they can improve. In particular, options that help you assess progress toward goals and connect with them one-on-one will prove essential on a hybrid team.
Monitoring progress toward goals and OKRs
The right tech solutions can help employees and their managers evaluate their progress toward goals as well as objectives and key results. By helping you break down goals into key action steps that you can track and measure, they can keep employees moving toward their desired outcomes. This offers particular value for a hybrid workforce by helping people stay focused even when they’re not surrounded by their colleagues.
Checking in with employees about their development
One-on-one video calls with managers play an essential role in helping employees on hybrid teams to stay on track. Managers should hold virtual check-ins with their direct reports at least once a week. Consider using a software that helps managers prepare for, manage, and document these check-ins. Such solutions can provide a record of these check-ins so managers can review them down the road to gage employees’ progress. This can prove particularly helpful in a hybrid workforce by making sure managers are seeing the full scope of employees’ efforts and development. You could also use a tool that allows you to send employees a brief questionnaire prior to your check-ins to ascertain what they want to discuss as well as challenges they’re experiencing.
Ways to stay connected as a team
Technology also plays a key role in keeping the entire team connected. Teams working across a distance can easily feel disengaged, missing out on the opportunities for interpersonal interaction that naturally arise in the office. However, technology can help. From tools that foster collaboration to those that give employees insights into their own performance, the following solutions will greatly boost your team’s creativity and productivity.
Holding dynamic team meetings
Be wary of too many team meetings—most employees in a hybrid workforce are going to one more meeting each day than they were when they worked full-time in an office. Rather, accentuate your necessary meetings with tools like virtual whiteboards, which allow you to take notes that all group members can see. These collaborative tools can add a new dimension to virtual meetings that makes it easier to stay focused and on task.
Make sure each participant is fully integrated into group discussions, no matter where they’re working that day. In conference rooms, set up video conferencing capabilities that allow at-home participants to see the whole room.
Immersive technologies will become an increasingly popular option for team and one-on-one meetings in the years to come! It might sound like science fiction now, but the technology already exists to meet up virtually in a 3D workspace, and these solutions will soon become widespread.
Sharing feedback with colleagues
Colleagues on hybrid teams may struggle to understand how their peers view their contributions, but software can allow them to share feedback in real time. Hybrid teams will feel much more connected and gain the insights needed to improve their performance with the use of such tools. You can also help employees exchange more in-depth feedback pertaining to a longer timeframe through 360-degree feedback tools. Such tools give employees input from a broad range of perspectives, seeking feedback from peers who work closely with them, colleagues in other divisions of the company, superiors, direct reports, and sometimes clients.
Collaborating as a team
Collaboration tools had already become popular before the pandemic, and now, they’re indispensable. These project management solutions will help your team stay on track with workflow, which can pose a challenge in hybrid workforces where people don’t work hand-in-hand within the same space. These tools allow everyone to see exactly what stage a project has reached, avoiding the confusion that can easily arise on hybrid teams. Platforms that integrate the ability to message or speak with coworkers will streamline communication about workflow.
Collaborative tools can also foster remote brainstorming sessions that get results. Remote brainstorming solutions don’t necessarily require employees to all participate in one session at the same time. Instead, they can add ideas at their convenience via a platform that shows all the ideas contributed by the group, which can allow for a more diverse range of ideas. The group can then convene to discuss and expand upon the best options.
Means of assessing engagement
Many managers struggle with determining remote employees’ level of engagement in their work. Technological solutions can help you keep your finger on the pulse of employee engagement, even across a distance.
Soliciting input from employees
Try sending your staff periodic opinion surveys asking how they feel about their work and what could be improved to bring greater job satisfaction. Seeking their input and responding to it can substantially improve workplace culture on a hybrid team.
Asking for input from peers
Through 360 surveys, you can find out how employees’ peers perceive their level of engagement. Do they fully show up for work each day, or has their energy level diminished? This feedback can help you address any issues as early on as possible.
Want to deepen your knowledge of how to manage your hybrid workforce? Read our ebook on essential performance management solutions for today’s HR!