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Hybrid working tips for managers

77% of US employees now use remote or hybrid working practices. That's nearly double the 2019 level. It's been a rapid change and many businesses are only now considering what that means for managers. Learning how to communicate effectively. Working together across multiple locations. Creating boundaries between work and home. And that's just what's changed for employees. Managers must also manage their teams effectively in this new environment. So HR Directors must help them. And implement practices and systems to support this change. They must identify the challenges and provide hybrid working tips for managers to make them effective in this new world.

The global pandemic challenged the status quo. Business priorities and processes changed overnight. But the result is businesses must now do more to compete. And company cultures need to adapt. Businesses need managers who can manage hybrid workers effectively and fairly. And HR Directors must help them build cultures where managers don't just listen but take action. Employees must be heard. And companies need to build employee engagement through excellent communication and trust between colleagues. So effective hybrid working means developing new management skills. And HR Directors must consider:

  • The challenges of managing hybrid workers
  • Top tips for creating effective managers in hybrid workplaces
  • Systems and processes to support hybrid working

The challenges of managing hybrid workers

Hybrid working's a new concept for many. People went from all sitting in an office to all working from home practically overnight. And working effectively in a hybrid environment requires a different set of skills. Informal chats stop. Instant messages increase. Emails are more important. But tone gets lost and miscommunication grows. The move to hybrid working isn't easy. It's scattered with potential obstacles and frustrations. But decisions were made quickly and organisations had to react.

Now, HR Directors can take a more measured approach. They're standing back, looking at the challenges. And identifying the support and training managers need to make hybrid working sustainable. Employees now consider flexibility a requirement, not a nice-to-have. So HR Directors must develop hybrid working tips for managers that enable them to manage teams both remotely and in the office. And support employees to achieve, regardless of their location or working pattern.

Building and maintaining relationships with remote employees

The employee-manager relationship isn't instant. It takes time and effort to build. And hybrid working means it happens differently. No more ’can I just check this’ chats or informal coffees in the kitchen. Relationships are built virtually with occasional opportunities to reinforce them face-to-face. So it feels awkward. Managers struggle and jump straight to business. There's no idle chit-chat when a meeting first starts. And they don't take time to listen. So concerns go unnoticed and potential issues grow.

For hybrid working to be effective, you need a culture of communication. Managers must be comfortable connecting with employees, no matter where they are. Introducing a screen might feel unnatural for some. So provide support and practice so they can relax more easily. And offer training in the technology, if that's what's holding them back.

Setting clear expectations

Hybrid working makes setting expectations critical. Team members have autonomy. They can manage their own workload. But they need to know they’re focusing on the right things. And it starts from the top. Senior management must clearly lay out the vision. And managers need to know where they fit. So they can share that with their teams. And ensure everyone’s working towards the same overall goals.

All employees need objectives. But hybrid working shifts the emphasis. The focus isn't on how. So managers must instead learn to manage outcomes. HR Directors are responsible for helping them change their approach. So employees find their own ways to deliver against targets. And managers must improve communication and check-in weekly. So they can listen to concerns, remove barriers, and set people up for success.

Collaboration for hybrid teams

Team meeting in Meeting Room 3, or at least that's what used to happen. Now they’re held over video conference. And people dial in from bedrooms and coffee shops alike. Team collaboration made possible by technology. Managers facilitate ideas sessions using breakout rooms, interactive whiteboards and instant messaging. But it's a different skill versus in-person meetings. And HR Directors must recognise that.

Managers need support managing online meetings. They must know how to read non-verbal cues and draw people in to join the discussion. And the reflectors in the group need feedback loops. So they can add further contributions once the meeting's ended. Managers must learn to recognise and celebrate achievements for individuals and teams, so people feel connected. And HR Directors need to offer hybrid working tips for managers to drive a culture of communication and collaboration. So managers have the skills to help employees thrive.

Supporting employee wellbeing

Poor mental health’s a common theme of the global pandemic. The uncertainty, the stresses, and just the virus itself, all took their toll. But management communication was key too. Lack of clarity on business impact and limited sensitivity to home situations meant employees struggled. And managers failed to support effectively. So HR Directors must introduce training programmes to help them recognise when issues are developing. And offer appropriate support to aid employee wellbeing and maintain productivity.

Understanding how employees feel is key to doing this well. But not everyone will be open. So look for systems to assist you. And make sentiment analysis a priority, so you can track downward trends and flag issues early. Then managers can be proactive. And use weekly check-ins to find out the cause and support employees accordingly.

Fair treatment, regardless of location

Hybrid working's a shift. Not everyone goes into the office now. So presenteeism and proximity bias become bigger risks. Many managers are used to managing what they see. So long hours and perceived dedication earn rewards over remote working and efficient delivery. But the shift to managing outcomes helps guard against that. And regular check-ins track progress and achievement.

HR Directors must assess succession planning processes. And consider metrics that include location. Top performers must be identified by delivery. Achievement becomes the focus. Not attendance in the office or hours shown working online. And the culture must change to one of assistance. With removing barriers and supporting success high on the priorities for managers at all levels.

It's clear hybrid working has its challenges. But it also creates a wealth of opportunities. Greater flexibility. Increased productivity. Higher inclusivity. Better employee engagement. And with more businesses offering hybrid options, HR Directors must develop their managers' skills. So understand what makes a great manager in this environment. And provide hybrid working tips that your managers can apply.

Top tips for creating effective managers in hybrid workplaces

Hybrid working tip for managers #1 – Set clear objectives

Employees must understand what’s expected of them. Managers must set clear Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) and help them see how they fit into the big picture. And it's no longer about setting objectives once a year. Managers must move to continuous performance management (CPM) with regular OKR reviews. Business change is rapid. So employee targets must be flexible. And managers must help identify when business priorities change and require a new direction.

Hybrid working tip for managers #2 – Complete weekly check-ins

Trust is essential in hybrid workplaces. So managers must get to know their teams. It starts with two-way communication. Weekly check-ins where employees provide progress updates. And identify barriers to success. But it isn't enough for employees just to raise concerns. Managers must also listen and take action. They must resolve issues. And build confidence their teams can rely on them to aid their success. Managers must also focus on career progression. And actively seek opportunities to support development. So employees feel connected and valued. And regular communication becomes part of the company culture.

Hybrid working tip for managers #3 - Provide feedback regularly

Good or bad, people need to know how they’re doing. So provide feedback often. Adopting CPM means proactive management of performance by the manager, not HR. No more storing up comments for year-end appraisals. But instead, help your managers drive their own team engagement. They must hold regular performance reviews and offer motivation to employees to keep striving for achievement. Or change direction on their own terms when they're starting to miss the mark. CPM allows managers and employees to take responsibility. Because they're now in control of when they do their reviews. So HR can focus on high level trends, while managers excel at managing the day-to-day.

Hybrid working tip for managers #4 – Celebrate achievements

Recognition matters. Hybrid managers must create a culture of celebration. Small wins, big wins. They all need to count. Celebrating success drives motivation. And it means even more when it comes from a peer. So encourage cross-company collaboration. And create an environment of recognising contribution, regardless of whether you're in the office or not. Escalate great achievements to senior management and ensure they see the work that's been done. And share successes across the team. The more people are recognised for what they’ve achieved, the more likely they are to want to repeat it.

Hybrid working tip for managers #5 - Drive employee engagement

Higher employee engagement means better productivity, greater employee retention, and improved company success. So hybrid managers must create a sense of belonging. In the office. At home. From the local independent coffee shop. Managers must be excellent at communicating the company message. So everyone wants to be involved and knows where they fit. They must allow employees to manage themselves. And must actively look for those signs of change. If engagement's dropping, managers must spot trends fast and take action. So employees are supported and teams can flourish.

Hybrid working tip for managers #6 - Get comfortable with technology

This is really more of a tip for HR. But it's a critical factor in getting hybrid management right. Systems and processes changed overnight as the pandemic arrived. But no training was given and no support could be offered. That now needs to change. Skills like facilitating a video conference or conducting an online review are essential in the managers toolkit. So provide training on how to use the technology. And re-visit processes that changed when hybrid happened. Help your managers get comfortable with technology. And learn how to manage their teams from afar. Without it, they could be the best manager in the world. But it will stop them being effective in the environment that's the new normal.

Systems and processes to support remote working

Business has changed. Hybrid working's here to stay. So managers need a new set of skills. But it isn't enough to provide hybrid working tips for managers. You must also consider your systems and processes. And how they might need to change.

Hybrid working requires active management. So you must introduce a culture of communication. And have systems which make that easy for managers. Simple steps for weekly check-ins. Great ways to shout about a job well done. And feedback processes that feel natural, not forced, as managers and employees create stronger connections. It all needs to start with clear vision of the business direction. And a set of objectives that everyone understands. Annual performance appraisals don't work for the hybrid environment. It changes too quickly and key communication gets lost.

So you need to adopt CPM and get managers managing performance proactively. Employees are able to flag their concerns and shout about progress as they hit their objectives. So managers can review targets and remove barriers. And focus on development opportunities that help employees grow.

HR needs to be able to look at the trends. Spot managers who are struggling or teams where motivation's dropped. So you can take action and provide the right support. The shift to hybrid is a huge change for many. And you'll need time to upskill managers and shift your culture where it needs to be. So start today. Introduce the idea of a weekly check-in. Help managers learn to connect with all their staff. And look for a system that will meet your needs as you focus on the overall health of the business and ensure long term success.

Finding the right system to suit your needs

Implementing a new system can be a significant task. So you need something that integrates well and is simple to use. You need a system that understands your business, can scale, and supports the values you're driving. It must support a culture of communication and be owned by managers, not HR.

Weekly10 offers a complete solution. Weekly check-ins, fantastic recognition function, a simple process for setting OKRs and reviewing them throughout the year. It's built on advanced AI so provides up-to-date reports on employee engagement and sentiment analysis. So you can spot trends and manage potential issues quickly.

Managing remote, flexi or hybrid teams? Grab a copy of our latest best practice guide: Employee Engagement in a Remote Working World. Download your copy here 👇