Keeping Your Employees Aligned in a Distributed Workplace
As of January 2022, 63 percent of high-growth businesses are using a hybrid model. More than two years after the dawn of the global coronavirus pandemic, the hybrid workplace seems to be here to stay.
It’s hard to look back and think there was a time when several of us couldn’t imagine working from home as a normalcy, but that quickly changed as we were forced to adapt to the circumstances. Now flash forward to today, and for many of us it’s hard to imagine that we used to work in an office 5+ days a week, 8+ hours a day.
When businesses first began adopting the hybrid work model amid the pandemic, most of us believed it would be a temporary arrangement. But we’ve become so accustomed to this new normal that it has become part of our workflow, and furthermore our culture.
Hybrid Work Benefits
As we’ve adapted to change, the hybrid model is now more popular than working fully in an office or fully remotely. Employees, executives, and businesses overall are reaping the benefits of this not-so-new work arrangement.
Employees have undoubtedly discovered the joy of a more flexible work schedule in the last couple of years. Being able to work from anywhere enables a better work/life balance and gives employees more freedom in their schedules. In pre-pandemic times, several full-time US workers were used to working from 9am – 5pm, Monday through Friday, and possibly had time to sneak in a lunch break around noon. While the hours themselves haven’t changed, the way we spend our time has.
It’s no longer taboo to take a couple short breaks throughout the day to clear your head, or to run an errand in between meetings. After all, if there’s anything we’ve learned from working remotely, it’s that it can be just as draining (if not more draining) than working in an office.
- Access to a Larger Talent Pool
The hybrid workplace is also a big selling point for job candidates. Future Forum’s Global Pulse Survey earlier this year revealed that 68% of global workers said they prefer hybrid work. Hybrid work environments allow you to hire employees who are based in different parts of the world, giving you more potential candidates to choose from.
In addition to your own hiring, the hybrid model allows you to work with vendors, contractors, and partners that you previously may not have had access to. Everyone is just a Zoom call away.
- Improved eNPS and Retention
Being more accommodating with your employees’ schedules became necessary when we underwent the initial shutdown. Several employees are also parents and have other responsibilities that took precedence during the peak times of uncertainty.
The formula for retention is simple – when employees are happy, they work harder and are more likely to stay with a company. Several businesses took an approach to incorporate a larger emphasis on mental health during the height of the pandemic, which also helped improve employee satisfaction and retention.
An easy way to pulse check your team members, especially in a distributed workplace, is by using eNPS (Employer Net Promoter Score) to anonymously survey your employees and gauge how they really feel about their jobs.
While the hybrid model seems to be the perfect marriage between remote and in-office work, it presents a few setbacks to be cautious about.
- Skewed communication
It’s no secret that times were easier when you could poke your head into your colleague’s office and get a quick answer to your question. We now depend more heavily on technology to communicate. We face setbacks beyond our control, like technical issues and unreliable internet, that can make it much harder (and more frustrating) to get our work done and stay in sync with our teams.
Structure is essential to effective communication and meeting rhythms. One way that team leads can ensure they maintain effective communication with employees is to hold regular 1:1 meetings with each employee on a recurring basis. We recently published a Guide to Mastering Continuous Performance Management with 1:1 Meetings that will help guide you in maintaining a productive structure.
- Low Employee Engagement
It’s harder to keep tabs on employees when they are dispersed in different locations. Team leads need to have a way of regularly checking their employees’ tasks, goals, and progress, so they can be fully aware of what everyone is working on each day.
- Employee Burnout
Burnout is the opposite effect of low engagement, but is just as plausible to occur in a hybrid workplace. Since it’s harder to keep tabs on your employees, it’s also harder for team leads to be fully aware of how much the employees have on their plates. As a team lead, you might not be in the loop about every single thing your employees are working on, and it can be more difficult to gauge how much capacity each employee has for new projects.
This is why it’s more important than ever to track your individual employees’ progress, tasks, and goals. Having a performance tracking system in place enables team leads to better manage their employees by staying on top of everything they are working on.
How the Align Team Stays Aligned
When the pandemic hit, our team at Align went fully remote. A year into it, we signed a lease for a new office, but maintained a hybrid workplace rather than reverting to being in the office full-time. Our team members are welcome to work from the office or from home as they prefer. We also have a handful of full-time employees in other parts of the U.S. who are fully remote.
Culture is huge for us – and along with that comes the need to amplify employee engagement and happiness. We know it’s not easy to keep all your employees engaged when they are spread out across different cities, but it’s not impossible.
Alexander Ferguson, Align Customer Success Manager, is one of a handful employees who works fully remotely and sees great benefit in our culture-building activities.
“As a Chicago-based employee at a New Orleans-based company, it’s important to me that I belong to an organization with a good culture that makes me feel included in all aspects, even from over 900 miles away. Not only does Align do a great job holding me accountable for my work with Daily and Weekly Huddles, but the team goes above and beyond to find creative ways to involve me and other remote team members. We do fun activities like weekly virtual happy hours, Halloween costume contests via Zoom, and online board game nights! It’s the perfect way to feel like I’m right there with my team.” – Alexander Ferguson
Most problems that hybrid teams face are due to the reality that it’s more difficult to practice good business habits in a dispersed workplace. It can seem at times like falling out of sync is inevitable, but maintaining those habits is key to keeping your team aligned and on track to achieving your company goals.
Align offers several resources in addition to the software itself that will help you better manage your team members, no matter where they are located. Want to get a closer look at what Align can do for your hybrid team? Schedule your demo today!
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