As a result of the pandemic, working from home has been the norm for some months now – much to the delight of many employees. Employees’ work-life balance is much better and many say they are more productive. The trend towards a hybrid working model, in which some team members work from home while others work in the office, seems to have begun. But do you manage such a team? What are the drawbacks? And just how do you keep up employee engagement?
1. Make formal agreements
Post-Covid, many companies will permanently be switching to hybrid working models. At that point, managers and supervisors should make formal agreements with their employees. How many days per week will working from home be possible? How can you make sure there is always someone in the office? Should homeworkers be available by telephone at all times? How will productivity be measured? Managers should be able to answer these questions before they start using the new working model. A hybrid working model can only be a success if employees know precisely what the rules are.
2. Set clear objectives
A hybrid working model requires appropriate leadership skills. After all, supervisors must be able to relinquish control and trust that their employees will be just as productive at home as they are at work. It will be essential to assess employees on performance rather than the number of hours worked. Make sure to set clear short- and long-term objectives for each employee. Also arrange regular one-on-one meetings, online or at the office, to talk about progress or any problems.
3. Keep up the engagement
People working from home a lot may start to feel disconnected from their team or company. It is up to you as a manager to keep your employees feeling as engaged as possible. You can do so by scheduling weekly team meetings, online or otherwise. These meetings certainly do not have to be all about work. Small talk is a proven way to create a relaxed atmosphere. It is also important to make sure everyone knows what their colleagues are working on. For example, you can share results via internal mail or let people present their finished projects. Always express appreciation for your employees’ hard work to keep them motivated.
4. Don’t forget mental health
Working at home does entail certain risks. Some employees may feel lonely, for example, or find the combination with family life too much. Another risk is that some may be unable to take a proper step back from work. Not to mention the uncertainties caused by the pandemic itself. As working from home in the context of the coronavirus crisis will not go away any time soon, you as a manager must keep an eye on your employees’ mental health. Ask how people are getting on and whether they are able to truly relax. Show a genuine interest in what they are telling you. This helps to create an open atmosphere in which the employee feels safe to talk about certain things. If you feel that a particular team member is not doing well, you may want to call in help, like a burnout coach, a psychologist or an internal confidential adviser.
5. Keep learning, even at a distance
Homeworking does not have to mean your employees lose their development opportunities. After all, online learning has been gaining ground for a long time. Make sure the new information your team will have to digest is manageable and that it can be consulted at any time. In that context, it would be ideal for an organisation to have its own learning platform, with exciting workshops and useful tutorials. At home, away from the hectic office environment, your employees will be able to learn in an even more focused way. Workshops and tutorials can be held by external experts or your own staff. Involving staff creates even more engagement.
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