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6 Ways To Ace People Management In A Hybrid Office

Photo by Chris Montgomery on Unsplash

6 Ways To Ace People Management In A Hybrid Office

Covid has ushered in a revolutionary new working world. The majority of the workforce has set up a smooth foundation with relevant technology to work from home, in the last two years. Now, though we have started returning to office – there seems to be no blanket rule. Whether it is once a month, once a week, or four days a week, several organisations are allowing office-based employees to split their work hours between the office and home. IT giants including TCS, Infosys, and HCL Technologies are all embracing it already.

A recent survey by global real estate firm CBRE South Asia, suggests that at least 73% of the companies in India are considering hybrid working arrangements to satisfy employees who want to retain the work-life balance that WFH (work from home) has offered. According to the survey, flexible working follows several patterns including three or more office days a week. So hybrid work doesn’t feel new anymore. Real estate consultant Colliers also carried out a survey suggesting that around 63% of companies are currently using some form of hybrid work in their businesses today, so it feels pretty mainstream for many.

However, it continues to stay demanding for team leaders and managers who are working with hybrid teams. And their biggest challenge is – people management. Here are some ways to manage your employees better in a hybrid work environment:

1. Personal check-ins

We often discuss employee ‘check-ins’ (or one-on-one meetings, performance progress meetings, etc.) in our blog or with our clients. No matter what you call it, increasing the frequency and quality of employee performance conversations remains a priority for most companies today.

Some organisations have mandated weekly employee check-ins, some schedule them as needed, and others ask managers to ensure meetings after every project. It is ideal to schedule formal check-ins throughout the year. Regardless of the frequency of these conversations, their purpose remains the same: keep the lines of communication open between managers and employees to engage and manage people and performance effectively.

Takeaway: The more employees and managers can communicate, the better they will be able to work together to accomplish goals, develop skills, and give/receive feedback. Although check-ins should appear relatively casual to employees, managers should follow a loose structure to ensure this time spent remains valuable and drives action.

2. Skip level meetings

As a leader, it is critical to look at everything as a big picture. This is where skip-level meetings come into play. A skip-level meeting is when a CEO or a senior-level manager meets with employees who are more than one step down the chain of command.

These meetings can simply cover how the employees feel about a job, discuss changes to incorporate, and get feedback on what to improve or how to help make the work environment better. It can also be a platform for idea generation for new products or initiatives, goal setting or reiterating the company vision and priorities among entry-level employees.

Takeaway: Skip-level meetings allow higher-level employees to talk with junior employees in a safe and productive environment. And this helps break down hierarchies and create a comfortable working environment where everyone feels heard.

3. Standups

The standup meeting or daily standup is quite self-explanatory – it’s a daily meeting where all the participants are standing, though now it is very often done virtually. It lets your team come together to update each other on their status, set priorities for the day, and get help with any obstacles in their way.

Standing up rather than sitting down gives the incentive to keep the meeting short and to the point, ideally under 15 minutes. In a traditional hierarchical management structure, information flow is strictly regulated. Information passed down to employees or up to managers has to go through layers of vetting by middle management and protocol.

To ensure success, hold a standup meeting at the same time and place every day, for consistency. Meetings must be where work happens and not in conference rooms and all employees ideally should attend. When done virtually, encourage employees to stand and keep cameras on throughout the standup.

Takeaway: Modern teams value a flat management style and a high degree of autonomy. Standups bring your team together to gather and share information transparently, keeping everyone up to date with the project’s progress. It keeps information flowing smoothly within your team. It must be noted, standup meetings lose their power when they become unfocused and time-consuming.

4. Grievance redressal

For the efficient working and smooth functioning of an organisation, it is essential to address the problems of the employees and also create a healthy environment with a good working culture.

Grievance redressal is therefore a critical procedure. It is where employees can vent out an issue or difficulty they face and get a proper solution. Employees should have the facility to lodge a complaint as per the procedure and solution provided by the senior authority by the policy to ensure a smooth and healthy working environment.

It is a best practice for an employer with more than 50 employees to set up a Grievance Redressal Committee for the resolution of disputes. The employer must establish a process for grievance redressal, have a policy in place and a committee where employees can share their grievances. Rember grievances, disputes, conflicts, etc. don’t resolve themselves, they need to be looked into when raised and resolved to ensure the organisation moves forward consistently.

Takeaway: A clear, transparent, quick, robust and confidential grievance redressal system can effectively help manage workplace conflicts and go a long way in bringing harmony to the workplace. Some of the better places to work have an effective employee grievance redressal mechanism.

5. Enable flexibility

In today’s world, workplace flexibility has gained a lot of attention. It provides opportunities for the employees to combine both work and non-work-related activities, which in turn increases their job performance and level of motivation. This is what drives them to attain specific goals and objectives of the organisation. However, managers constantly question whether flexibility reduces productivity. Managing a flexible workforce means reworking your employee experience strategy to ensure your remote and hybrid population has a great, equitable experience to those in the physical office.

A key ingredient to allow flexibility to employees is to ensure tight and effective employee policies are established. It is nothing but a set of guidelines that employees are expected to follow and makes it easier for managers to then monitor, supervise and reprimand team members appropriately.

Takeaway: To ensure that flexibility at work is a success, managers must cultivate mutual respect and trust, prioritise information flow with regular online communication, treat all employees equally, keep rigid goals, and focus on results.

6. Focus on results, not time

One of the biggest misconceptions is that time spent at the desk is equivalent to success and that people are less effective when they’re not working in the office. Performance and success can no longer be thought of in terms of face time or the number of hours worked. Instead, the focus should be on how an employee matches up to the clear expectations set by a manager at the beginning of a project.

Focusing on results while offering increased flexibility must be the top priority. It’s all about the freedom of action that comes with ownership of your actions and final results. Finding the balance between accountability and freedom is the key to successfully managing flexible teams. When a company focuses on results over time spent, employees feel the flexibility. They are allowed to have a work-life balance, which ultimately drives the best results for their team, and subsequently the company. Net-net, focusing on the goals rather than a mountain of tasks makes a significant difference in the end – it is what drives the organisation and employees to success.

Takeaway: To efficiently measure results, managers must set specific goals – hard deadlines, set numbers or make the goal measurable, and create a dashboard that maps output towards goals. These elements make a results-focused model work and provide actionable feedback.

Hybrid work fulfils both employer-employee needs. Employees want flexibility, but also in-person time with their teams, colleagues and friends at work. Organisations want more people back in offices but recognise that the world of work has changed irrevocably – and employees can be more productive, even while operating in flexible work environments.

We believe work is something you do, not a place you go, and we are seeing so many organisations embracing this mindset and the positive side effects. The workplace is changing, a physical office is no longer an essential need to do business, and the 9-to-5 grind is dated and slowly dying. The traditional way of measuring success is also changing, and people are at the forefront of it. Once the leaders start to assess teams against the main measures, they will, on most occasions be surprised at how quickly the results can be achieved. For an organisation to function successfully, it is essential to have happy employees. They are what in fact, make productive employees.

Looking to transition to a hybrid work environment? We can handhold you through the process. To know more write to contact@yellowspark.in

Author Profile: Deepam Yogi is an adventurer at heart, socially conscious in her gut and professionally a strategic consultant. She co-founded Yellow Spark to support organisations to build workplaces that people love being a part of. Deepam describes herself as a shy yet opinionated writer and firmly believes that most answers to complex issues lie in simple communication.