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How hybrid work environments can enable productivity

How hybrid work environments can enable productivity

purple background with text: hybrid hacks #3: productivity

There are countless ways to think about productivity in the workplace, but one thing is certain: Your employees want to feel productive, and your organization needs them to be.

But how can teams enable employees to be productive in a hybrid workplace?

According to one study, workers prefer a hybrid model 83% of the time – so this is a key aspect of optimizing the employee experience. In this blog series, we’re diving into best practices for hybrid workplaces in each stage of the employee lifecycle: 1) hiring, 2) onboarding, 3) productivity, and 4) growth & feedback.

Today, we’re talking about productivity. Let’s dive into some of the best practices for enabling and empowering hybrid teams to be productive.

Productivity challenges in hybrid workplaces

As our first two articles on hybrid hiring and onboarding made clear, hybrid workplaces bring their own unique challenges. Enabling productivity in these environments is no different.

Getting help and information

According to a McKinsey report, employees spend about 20% of their work week searching for internal information. This might be even more in a hybrid workplace, where remote employees can’t just walk to someone’s desk – whether HR, IT, or another department – to ask a question. There also might be time zone differences, making it difficult to get immediate help. 

Hybrid workplaces need to have virtual options in place (such as Back) that make it easy to get the right information at the right time. To prevent digital tool overload, this should all happen within channels employees already use every day, such as Slack or Microsoft Teams.

Collaboration

Another challenge comes down to the tiers that exist when collaborating. People in the room can easily dominate a conversation, while those dialing in may struggle to get their opinions heard.

To mitigate this, teams can break up their collaboration into different buckets:

  1. What can be done asynchronously?
  2. What can be done in workshops?
  3. What needs to be discussed in sync meetings?

You can also treat collaboration as remote-first to avoid creating tiers in the first place. For example, have everyone dial in through their own laptop even if they are onsite. 

Relationship building 

One of the biggest challenges is if an organization ignores the value of relationships. Many employees in hybrid environments have never been to the office or met their teammates. Without strong relationships, work will feel transactional, degrading both morale and productivity.

Tackle this challenge by planning time and formats for building relationships, such as offsites, team meetings, other get-togethers, or the Donut app for Slack.

Here’s how we do it at Back: 

  • Remote employees visit the office frequently (approximately once per month) on the company dime
  • Two offsites per year
  • Make time for non-work topics during daily standups
  • Pair every new employee with a “culture buddy” who helps them learn how we work and how to navigate the workplace

Asking your team about productivity challenges

You can probably name some of the challenges your employees face already, and the ones discussed above may be present as well. But it can be helpful to hear it straight from the source by surveying your team. 

At Back, we try to think like product managers when it comes to the employee experience – aka, the company itself is the “product” we’re building for (and with) employees.

A good example of when this came into play was at the beginning of the pandemic. Our hybrid team – some who had been fully or partially remote, some who were onsite – was now 100% remote. We ran a survey and discovered right away that everyone’s WFH setups were wildly different: Some had great monitors and home offices, while others didn’t even have a chair. 

Knowing this, we implemented a policy to give each employee €500 to build their own home office setup. The problem was fixed in just two weeks.

Running a survey like this is simple enough. And, it helps you to see the differences across the company, rather than just looking at employee needs in aggregate. Different perspectives, different teams, and different personalities might have different standards. Drilling down into the specific challenges that your employees are facing is a good starting point. Consider asking about issues with:

  • Unplugging after work
  • Loneliness or lack of social interaction
  • Collaborating and/or communication
  • Distractions at home
  • Staying motivated
  • Finding reliable internet/wifi

Mastering the art of hybrid productivity

Empowering employees to be productive in a hybrid or remote environment presents unique challenges. But these best practices can help teams to create the best employee experience possible. Be sure to catch up on our thoughts on hybrid hiring and hybrid onboarding if you missed them, and stay tuned for the rest of our series on best practices for hybrid workplaces in each stage of the employee lifecycle.

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