Refresh your work from home approach—avoiding burnout and thriving in the hybrid work era
As your company looks ahead to a hybrid work future, with time spent working both in the office and remotely, you’ll want to make sure your team is well-positioned to thrive in this new reality.
To truly tap into the benefits of hybrid work, your company will need to have thoughtful systems in place to make sure employees can collaborate well and have a seamless experience regardless of where they’re working on a particular day.
Additionally, while working remotely full-time or a few days per week holds great potential, if executed incorrectly, it can leave employees feeling isolated, disconnected, and struggling with remote work burnout.
Now is a great time to evaluate your team’s work from home approach and make sure everyone has what they need to succeed. Keep your employees engaged, connected, and productive with these guidelines below.
Clearly communicate your hybrid work plans
Over the last several months, many prominent companies have announced their permanent remote work policies, with some allowing employees to work from home full time and others permitting a few days per week.
Regardless of your company’s strategy, ensuring clear and thoughtful communication of hybrid work plans to your team is crucial. Not only is explicit, empathetic communication necessary for a smooth transition, it also can go a long way to help employees feel cared for—something research indicates many companies may need to improve on: As the pandemic has progressed, employees’ belief that their employers care about them has declined, with only four in 10 employees strongly agreeing that their company cares about their wellbeing, according to a Gallup poll.
Additionally, be sure to address any questions employees have, and outline steps that will be taken to make this new step a success. Be transparent about the resources you’ll provide your team to enable seamless collaboration and a safe return to the office. Think through questions like:
- What equipment (high quality webcams, collaboration devices, etc.) will employees be provided for their home offices?
- Will the IT team be able to centrally manage and support this technology to ensure everyone has a consistent experience?
- Will you be rolling out new in-office collaboration technology like digital whiteboards, smart meeting rooms and hotdesking systems?
- What COVID precautions will be taken?
Remind employees of healthy WFH strategies—and respect them
Remind employees of healthy WFH strategies, from ergonomics to time management to video conferencing best practices. See this infographic for eight key tips your team should keep in mind (also included below).
Also check to see if there are any tools or resources they need to follow these WFH best practices and be more productive. Even if you provided a stipend for home office essentials last year, it might be time to offer a second stipend to allow them to purchase any additional resources, training, and even fun “nonessentials” like plants or office décor to brighten their space. A small gift or thoughtful gesture can go a long way in boosting morale and helping the team feel appreciated.
Leverage technology to allow seamless transitions from home to office, making everyone feel included
Everyone should have a consistent experience and feel included whether they are working from home or in the office. And for those embracing the hybrid model, the transition from home to office should be seamless.
In addition to ensuring that your employees’ home offices are fully set up, make sure you have smart collaboration solutions in the office. Equip conference rooms with tools like high-quality video conferencing systems and digital whiteboards so those in the office can easily include and co-create with remote colleagues as if they were all in the same room. Also consider a hotdesking system to allow employees to easily find and reserve open workstations. And explore other solutions for seamless connection such as an effective cloud calling system.
Create time for connection
The flexibility of hybrid work affords many benefits. However, you’ll need to coordinate carefully to make sure your team doesn’t become isolated and siloed. Take steps to avoid loneliness, weakened relationships, and the breakdown of team culture.
If your policy allows people to choose which days they’re in the office (if any), consider the following to help teams stay connected:
- Encourage managers to select one day per week for their team to come into the office and meet in person, if possible.
- Consider offering a small stipend to allow teams to get together for a fun activity or send recognition to their remote peers for a great job done. This will help incentivize and remind them to schedule time to connect with colleagues.
- If meeting in person is not possible, schedule regular time to connect as a team via video to maintain face-to-face interaction. Even if people don’t have time for weekly virtual happy hours, try starting your weekly team syncs with a brief time for personal connection. It can be simple as inviting each person to share a highlight from their week, whether that be a child’s graduation, a new puppy, or fresh flowers blooming in their garden.
- Be very thoughtful about onboarding, making sure hybrid employees can regularly connect with team members in person during their first weeks if possible and that remote employees feel equally welcomed and included.
Encourage video use, while guarding against video fatigue
Video conferencing is essential for the health and productivity of remote teams.
It enables the face time that is so valuable for communication, strengthening relationships, and getting work done. Research suggests that a good portion of communication is nonverbal. Making regular video meetings a company norm ensures important nonverbal cues aren’t lost and communication doesn’t suffer as a result.
Additionally, remote workers report that video use significantly impacts their experience at work: Those who frequently use video were 2.4 times more likely to say that it’s easier to collaborate and 2.6 times more likely to say they’ve experienced empathy from colleagues, a Webex study found.
But don’t take our word for it, check in with your own employees. Ask and reflect on the following questions:
- Does your company have a culture of turning on video during meetings? If not, how can you instill one?
- Why might employees be hesitant to use video?
- Do you need to offer video presence training? Do you need to provide them with quality webcams, headsets, and lighting so they feel confident on video?
- What smart strategies can you employ to avoid video fatigue, helping your company enjoy the benefits of video without getting burned out?
For more tips on making hybrid work safe, healthy, and productive, also see our earlier blog post and check our Future of Work site for insights on the latest technology and trends transforming the workplace.
Also see the infographic below for eight key tips your team should keep in mind.
Sep 16, 2021 — Aruna Ravichandran