5 Practical Tips for Managing Your Hybrid Onsite & Remote Workforce

hybrid workforce

Liz Strikwerda

Content strategist and corporate blogger (2000+ posts). Her work has been featured on G2's Learning Hub, Human Resources Today, Better Buys and over 500 business websites. She plays bluegrass mandolin and enjoys sailing her catamaran and hiking in the red rock wilderness of southern Utah. Connect with me on LinkedIn

Employee Timekeeping and Scheduling

The small teams that are the lifeblood of today’s organizational success thrive with empowering, less-controlling management styles. Better to define the outcomes you expect from your small teams rather than the specific activities or the time spent on them. "Reimagining the postpandemic workforce," McKinsey & Company

Hybrid-remote forces leadership to manage two distinct employee experiences, and without great intentionality it can cause upheaval. Done well, it's a super-power for retention. HR Exchange Network

Good time and labor software provides transparency around hours worked each pay period. U.S. companies are accountable to the Department of Labor for every employee and every shift. A good time tracking app is your number one tool for labor compliance and paycheck accuracy.

Management should guard against remote workers being ‘out of sight, out of mind’ by giving everyone a fair chance to land new projects and promotions. Sometimes remote workers are stuck in the same roles, slower to receiver raises, or replaced for cheaper employees. Even if their job performance is better than in-office staff, telecommuters are more likely to be passed up for promotions because they are not physically present. Remote employees must also take the initiative to be seen and heard by providing reports of daily accomplishments and staying in touch through technology. "Managing a Hybrid Workforce," Entrepreneur.com

Here are 5 practical tips for managing hybrid teams (onsite and remote work). Being intentional about adapting for a distributed team will prevent lapses in productivity and engagement. Build a capable hybrid workforce that can drive your business forward post-pandemic.

Practical Tip #1 Focus on outcomes for remote work

It’s natural to worry that remote workers won’t be productive at home. Though many of the pandemic issues are gone, there are still the ordinary household distractions. Regardless of the challenges, resist the urge to micromanage.

Successful remote teams agree that focusing on outcomes is the best way to do this. Depending on the remote job role and employee’s working style, have short planning meetings as often as necessary. For some, you may need to check in each morning. Outline the priorities for the day and agree on a reasonable time frame for completion. Then let the employee structure their remote work.

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Have Frequent One-on-Ones

You may already have a check-in schedule with long-time remote workers. But don’t assume workers who aren’t remote by choice will fall into the same pattern. Be positive and empathetic with your team members. Talk with each frequently as you both figure out the optimal schedule for your one-on-ones.

The small teams that are the lifeblood of today’s organizational success thrive with empowering, less-controlling management styles. Better to define the outcomes you expect from your small teams rather than the specific activities or the time spent on them. “Reimagining the postpandemic workforce,” McKinsey & Company

Remote Workforce Glossary

  • Remote work is also called telework, work from home, WFH, telecommuting, and virtual working.
  • Employees who work remotely are called telecommuters, virtual workers or remote workers.
  • A remote team is also called a virtual team or distributed workforce.
  • A hybrid or hybrid virtual workforce has employees both in the office and at home or somewhere else offsite. In addition, the employees may have a schedule that alternates working from home and working in the office.
  • NOTE: The term ‘hybrid workforce’ is also used to describe a team comprised of humans and AI-powered digital co-workers that perform automated, repeatable tasks. In this article, we aren’t addressing this type of hybrid team.

Practical Tip #2 Formalize collaboration policies for a hybrid workforce

If you’re like most companies with job roles that can be performed remotely, you have more collaboration tools than you know what to do with. (If you don’t have any, you need some ASAP.) There’s Slack or Skype for quick DMs and impromptu calls. Zoom, Go to Meeting, or Teams for video meetings. Old-school email for more formal correspondence. Plus project management or CRM applications with built-in communication tools.

Some techies have figured out how to sync everything. Others, however, have only mastered the basic functions. If you are going to collaborate effectively with remote work arrangements, you’ve got to set the ground rules while taking into account the varying levels of software proficiency.

Here are key best practices managing remote employees:

  • Train employees working remotely on your collaboration software.
  • Clarify which types of issues require a group videoconference.
  • Outline an appropriate response time for an email or Slack message.
  • Teach employees how to update their availability status (working, in a meeting, at lunch, on vacation) and sync it with your company’s scheduling calendar.
  • For those with slow internet, set up a time for an IT rep to help them. You may have to stagger schedules to accommodate differences in internet quality.

Set expectations

With flexible schedules, many are working outside of normal business hours. For example, it’s not unusual to get an email or Slack message late at night or early in the morning. If you have a remote team in multiple time zones, this is a given.

Set clear expectations. Make sure those working remotely know they don’t have to respond immediately, especially after their normal work hours or during a break. In other words, just because a co-worker or supervisor messages them at 11:00 p.m., it doesn’t mean it’s an emergency. (If it is an emergency and requires an immediate response, the sender should state that plainly in the message.) The team member is simply working at the time that’s most convenient. Perhaps they do their best work when everyone else in the household is asleep.

Work-life balance is a term that has long been used, but it focuses on the separation of work and life. Today and moving forward, it’s all about work-life integration. Fast Company

Practical Tip #3 Make sure all employees are on a level playing field

Hopefully, you have a career paths program and help employees progress at your org. Understand, however, that when it comes to advancement, your onsite employees have a distinct advantage. This is true especially if their manager also works in the office.

For managers, face-to-face interaction keeps onsite employees top of mind. In-office staff are more likely to have their first pick of projects. They can also leverage insider information from informal conversations.

Be proactive about mitigation. If you don’t, you are at risk of losing your remote employees. It doesn’t take long for them to become resentful if you show favoritism (even unintentionally).

remote and hybrid workforce

Photo by Stocksnap

Create Equitable Processes

However, the onus for leveling the field falls on all parties. Your job is to create equitable processes for assigning work and qualifying for promotions. Your remote workers need to document their achievements, request assignments and take the initiative in their careers.

I am a huge advocate for flexibility and remote work, but I am concerned about its effectiveness in partially distributed teams. There might be significant overhead for managers/team members to keep distributed workers in the loop, and if they fail to do so, they become no better than outsourcing and it’s terrible for professional growth and opportunities. Mahlon Apgar, IV, Leadership consultant, “The Alternative Workplace: Changing Where and How People Work,” Harvard Business Review

remote workforce

Management should guard against remote workers being ‘out of sight, out of mind’ by giving everyone a fair chance to land new projects and promotions. Sometimes remote workers are stuck in the same roles, slower to receiver raises, or replaced for cheaper employees. Even if their job performance is better than in-office staff, telecommuters are more likely to be passed up for promotions because they are not physically present. Remote employees must also take the initiative to be seen and heard by providing reports of daily accomplishments and staying in touch through technology. “Managing a Hybrid Workforce,” Entrepreneur.com

Practical Tip #4 Default all processes to remote work

If you’re trying to figure out the best way to manage remote work, priority one is making sure offsite employees can actually do their jobs offsite. 100% remote companies have this mastered. They never had operations designed for an onsite staff so their workflows are remote by default. However, few companies who were forced to abruptly send employees home have re-designed their operations. Some don’t even realize they need to–let alone appreciate what a major undertaking it is.

Darren Murph, Head of Remote at GitLab insists that in order to be successful with a hybrid virtual model, all processes have to default to remote even for those who work in the office. He gives some examples in the article “Challenges and Opportunities in the Remote Workplace” (HR Exchange Network). Here are some insightful recommendations from the article:

  • Offer parallel perks for onsite and offsite staff.
  • Create team-building exercises that are fully inclusive of each in-office and remote employee.
  • Where possible, eliminate meetings by using a good project management application to collaborate.
  • Structure necessary meetings to be asynchronous (all participants don’t need to meet at the same time).
    • Have an agenda and documentarian.
    • Remove wide-angle video cameras from conference rooms.
    • In-office staff must log into video calls from their office.

What workflows do you have that currently default to onsite staff? Brainstorm with your team to adapt them to remote working. You may need to build them from the ground up. Document them in your Human Resources Management System (HRMS).

photo by samson katt

Photo by Samson Katt on Pexels

Practical Tip #5 Revisit time and attendance to ensure accurate payroll

In order to pay each employee correctly–regardless of hybrid work–you need mobile time and attendance software. Employee timekeeping/scheduling apps have a web portal for clocking in and out.

Good time and labor software provides transparency around hours worked each pay period. U.S. companies are accountable to the Department of Labor for every employee and every shift. A good time tracking app is your number one tool for labor compliance and paycheck accuracy.

Mobile Location Management

Apps with Mobile Location Management make timekeeping easy for hybrid work. Mobile Location Management uses GPS to identify the physical location of each punch in/out. The employee clocks in on a connected device (the location tracking feature must be enabled) and the system records their location.

If your employees are not authorized to work anywhere besides their home office space, consider an app with geofencing. Geofencing is a feature of Mobile Location Management. To create a geofence in an app, the manager defines a radius around a central location. If an employee punches in outside of the fence, the app flags the punch as out of bounds. Keep in mind that if you allow employees to work in coffee shops, for example, you wouldn’t want to use geofencing.

Some companies only track hours for hourly workers. However, there are many benefits to tracking hours for salaried workers as well. For example, you will ensure accurate PTO calculation, FMLA administration, client job billing and Human Resources analytics.

Hybrid-remote forces leadership to manage two distinct employee experiences, and without great intentionality it can cause upheaval. Done well, it’s a super-power for retention. HR Exchange Network

Remote Work: 4 key findings

  1. 95% of office workers in the U.S. became regular telecommuters when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
  2. Remote jobs leapt from under 4% of all high-paying jobs before the pandemic to about 9% at the end of 2020 and more than 15% at the end of 2021. Ladders
  3. In a 2022 PwC survey, 43% of executives said they planned to continue offering hybrid work options.
  4. In a survey by Owl Labs, 32% of employees who worked remotely during the pandemic said they would quit their job if their employer quit allowing remote work.

Be intentional about management for teams working remotely. This will help your employees do better work while learning valuable skills. Plus, a successful hybrid team will drive your business forward during the pandemic and beyond.

 

Top image by Tima Miroshnichenko on Pexels

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