For the last 15 months, employees have wondered about what returning to the office or their place of business might look like. Now with mask mandates lifted for those who have been fully vaccinated, many employees are asking for more flexible working alternatives. Just as managers had to adjust to working with remote teams, they now need to consider how to adjust to hybrid requests for rotational schedules, shared office spaces and working from home. Here are some tips to help make this transition go more smoothly.
Ask: Do employees NEED to be in the office?
If so, use a staggered approach that prioritizes the Order of Return, as it allows you to experiment with any new policies and guidelines. If only certain roles require being physically present, discuss your rationale and inform your team members about the return schedule. To increase both psychological and physical safety, determine what is necessary to strengthen hygiene practices and increase the distance between workspaces.
Ask: What new working guidelines or norms do we need?
For those who will continue to work remotely and/or on a rotational schedule, it is important to establish clear guidelines and expectations for when to be in the office. For example, you might want all employees to be physically present for monthly staff meetings, training sessions or team building events. Depending on company policies, you might allow employees to choose or convene a meeting to discuss options before finalizing your decision. Consider what you’ve had in place during the pandemic and which best practices for working remotely can be applied to these blended schedules. Strengthen your telecommuting protocols accordingly. You might ask, based on what we have learned:
- How can we best establish new work norms?
- What do we want to keep doing and/or stop doing?
- How will we onboard new members, include those working remotely, etc.?
Ask: How can we clean up our digital space?
After working remotely and with increasing cybersecurity threats, set up expectations for knowledge management. Some companies are finding a digital mess with documents and information on both company and personal devices. Security threats are at an all-time high and need to be a top priority. Ask IT to schedule a session with employees so they can provide guidance regarding new safety precautions and ensure devices are clear from malware.
Ask: How can I best communicate with my team?
Every manager has found that keeping their team engaged has required extra communication effort during the lockdown, and the same rule will apply to staff returning to work or working a hybrid schedule. Levelling the playing field between those who are working remotely and those who are in the office has always been a challenge for businesses experimenting with telecommuting. Consider social tools and apps to keep teams connected despite the distance or shifting schedules. Establish routine meetings with staff that can be attended by those in the office and at home. Remember to empathize with different employee concerns, acknowledge their reality and communicate openly about it.
Ask: How can I best “Relaunch” my team?
When you initially launch a team, your goal is to ensure that everyone has what they need to accomplish their tasks and that team members work well together. The aim is to create an effective, unified team. A “relaunch” of your team is a reassessment. Are the norms you have established (before, during, and/or after the pandemic) still effective? What needs to be adjusted or revised to accommodate hybrid work schedules?
And, finally, Ask: How can Innolect support your efforts?
Creating and maintaining hybrid schedules for employees is a new challenge facing many businesses. As such, there is no clear-cut blueprint for how it should look and operate. The key for any good leader will be to remain flexible to changes and keep the lines of communication open with team members.
Innolect’s executive consultants are valuable, trusted advisors who can help you establish a game plan for transitioning your remotely working teams into a hybrid model that fits your business. Whether you need assistance implementing these plans or re-establishing a healthy workplace culture, we will help you and your team grow.
Contact us to schedule a consultation: