working from home, looking into the backyard
PHOTO: Yasmina H | unsplash

We should be proud of ourselves. For many of us, the pendulum swung hard last year as we suddenly shifted from five days a week in the office to full-time remote work. We turned to technology to adapt, and as a result businesses saw 3-4 years of technological advancement in under twelve months.

Now the pendulum is starting to swing back. We’re experiencing wait times at our favorite restaurants, seeing the return of in-person events and fewer mask mandates.

One thing that isn't returning for most people is the desire to commute back to the office every day. In fact, the overwhelming majority (68%) of U.S. workers want a permanent mix of both in-office and remote work time. Prudential’s Pulse of the American Worker survey also found 87% want to continue working remotely at least one day per week, and nearly half (42%) said they would seek a different job if their employer doesn’t provide remote work options.

For most companies, offering flexible work arrangements is no longer a perk, it’s a requirement. And with this shift to a hybrid work model, leaders need to reexamine how we handle the fundamental parts of employee experience. We can’t just slap the “remote work” label on our old systems and expect things to run smoothly.

As managers and leaders, we’re responsible for 70% of our team’s engagement. If we’re serious about creating an employee experience we can be proud of and that attracts the best talent out there, we have to get the performance management piece right.

Listen: Get Reworked Podcast: How to Design a Hybrid Workplace That Actually Works

5 Considerations for the Hybrid Workplace

Here are a few things to consider as we transition to a hybrid work model:

Fight Feelings of Disconnection

One of the biggest challenges for businesses over the last 18 months was figuring out how to maintain and strengthen work relationships and keep office culture alive when not everyone was coming into a physical office space. Though most of us want to continue working from home at least part of the time, we don’t want to feel disconnected from our team. That’s why 41% of respondents to the Prudential survey said they do not want to be fully remote.

To foster connection, stay diligent with one-on-ones and quarterly check-ins, and keep affirmation, recognition and gratitude flowing intentionally.

Don’t Neglect Real-Time Feedback

Remote or hybrid workers who received feedback in the last week are 4.6 times more likely to be engaged than those who haven’t according to a recent Gallup survey. And remote workers who receive feedback several times a week outperform onsite workers who receive feedback with the same frequency.

While giving feedback can be easier in person, we need to lean into real-time feedback for our remote employees as well. Find a feedback model that works for your team and start making it a part of your every day.

Related Article: 2 Companies Share Their Hybrid Work Models for 2021

Establish Clear Expectations

Nearly half of U.S. employees don't know what’s expected of them on any given day at work. Many of us had grace for each other during the ups and downs of last year, but going forward, a pattern of unclear expectations will take a big toll on productivity, engagement and retention. Now is the time to define the work we need done, communicate expectations effectively, and check in regularly to adjust those expectations as needed.

Set Clear Goals — Together

Goal-setting has always been critical, but with 93% of employees saying they are unable to tie their work to organizational goals, there’s a disconnect between leadership and frontline workers. Address it by inviting teams to participate in the process. Collaborative goal-setting, rather than micromanagement, conveys trust and empowers employees to take ownership over their own performance goals. With a new year on the horizon, it’s a great time to evaluate how you track and monitor goals to ensure all team members can participate, no matter where they’re located.

Create Individual Hybrid Work Plans

When it comes to flexible work options, one size does not fit all. Since every employee has different needs, take the time to work with your team members individually to determine what particular challenges they’ll face in a hybrid work environment. This is a great opportunity to lean on the managers in your organization to understand how to set all your employees up for success. Some things you’ll want to understand are: whether the role is conducive to independent work, who they need to keep in close communication with, and what additional support they might need to be successful. While this is not an exhaustive list, it’s a good gauge of how you can support your employees.

There’s no question that changing our management style in a hybrid work environment will be a bit of trial and error. There may be more bumps along the way. But with a commitment to figuring it out together, the potential our teams can reach will be limitless.