Before the onset of COVID-19, 60 percent of remote-capable employees worked in the office each day according to a survey by Gallup. When the pandemic ended last year, teams have transitioned to a hybrid environment.
How to make hybrid work efficient
Hybrid environments allow teams to meet in person and collaborate outside of video calls, while still giving everyone space to reduce commute times and improve work-life balance.
Still, hybrid work doesn’t come without its challenges and communication remains a significant issue for teams. Here are a few ways to close the communication gap within your company to maximize hybrid work and productivity.
Establish when employees are in the office
A hybrid schedule is valuable for respecting very employees’ preferences and needs, but this can make in-person communication challenging. If someone only works at the office on Tuesdays and Thursdays, they’ll have a hard time scheduling an in-person meeting on Mondays and Wednesdays—and if you still rely on this face-to-face connection time, you may find a gap in communication.
The same Gallup survey found that, while 38 percent of employees want to choose their own remote schedules, the remaining 62 percent prefer some structure. The challenge is figuring out what that structure is. Here are a few real-life examples of what your employees might want:
- 24 percent of employees want employers to require a certain number of remote days. I.E. Workers pick at least three days per week to work on-site.
- 16 percent want employers to set specific on-site days. I.E. Everyone is in the office on Tuesday and Thursday.
- 22 percent want employers to coordinate schedules with their teams. I.E. The accounting team needs to be in the office on Mondays and Thursdays.
You can choose what is best for your company and team, remembering that the goal is to offer flexibility while still creating structure and space for collaboration. Depending on your deadlines and client needs, you might set on-site days for specific weeks and then let employees choose them for others.
Establish best practices for hybrid meetings
Hybrid work offers flexibility to employees who might not be able to come into the office at some point. If a team member’s child gets sick or their partner undergoes surgery, that employee can work remotely to care for them. From a managerial standpoint, this means you will likely have remote staff even if you implement in-office policies.
As you develop hybrid work plans, create a set of best practices for documenting and running meetings. A few steps to include:
- Provide a dial-in line for each meeting, even if you expect full in-person attendance.
- Make it is easy for remote workers to call in and be heard.
- Never schedule a meeting without providing a clear agenda for what will be covered.
- Designate one person to take notes during the meeting and send them out after.
- Ask employees to alert the host if they will be calling in remotely ahead of time.
Organize your workplace chat tools
Chat apps can get just as clogged as other communication channels when you have engaged team members. Your employees might chat about several different projects or personal updates in one thread, which makes it easy for messages and documents to get lost.
Don’t let this be a communication bottle neck. Instead, get organized. Start by auditing your current chat tool(s) to determine whether organization is needed. The steps needed to do this are similar to those you’d take when auditing your meetings, including:
- Remove people from unnecessary threads so they receive fewer notifications each day.
- Break down larger topics into smaller niche sections.
- Sunset unused or irrelevant topics.
Don’t forget to create a social topic for employees to chat about non-work topics. This can prevent them from clogging up work related topics while still encouraging everyone to connect on a personal level. Alternatively, use the Hubgets Team Topic, the company-wide topic in Hubgets where team members engage in social interactions and have fun together.
Listen to your team members
You don’t need to have all of the answers when establishing a hybrid communication strategy. Work with your team and collect input on their preferences and goals with communication. You can work with your staff to establish communication best practices that everyone agrees on.
For example, your employees might identify meetings that are irrelevant. You never know what ideas or needs they have if you don’t ask.
Listening to your employees when establishing office policies is a great way to engage them in their own work environment, as well, which can increase accountability and buy-in. Building an employee-approved communications structure can also reduce turnover because you’re building the culture your employees desire.
Improve communication for hybrid work
Establishing a hybrid work environment where communication is easy requires you to look at all communication channels, from in-person meetings to chat threads.
Use these best practices to audit current processes, make changes, and bring your employees’ voices into the picture. With better communication, everyone wins—and this shift is possible!