Managing a blended workforce
Right now, it seems like COVID-19 government guidelines are changing on a weekly basis. That might mean some people on your team are working remote, while others are working at home. Even prior to the pandemic, this blended set up was becoming a popular one for teams, because it allows you to expand your hiring pool, give your workforce a lot more flexibility, and build a better work-life balance for your employees.
If a blended workforce is new for you (and even if it’s not), you might be facing some challenges when it comes to streamlining processes and ensuring that your team is able to work together effectively. Read on for tips that will help you make the most of the current situation, and create a sustainable, blended work environment for your teams.
How has COVID-19 affected your work environment?
As the UK government guidelines currently suggest, all people who are not essential workers and who don’t absolutely need to be physically at their place of work to complete their duties are encouraged to work from home. Right now, that might mean you’re managing an increasingly remote workforce, but you also might have some people on your team who are dividing their time between home and your office, or people who are still continuing to go into the office five days a week.
No matter your current situation, your organisation has undoubtedly changed as you’ve learned to deal with this “new normal.” By this point, after eight months in, that is likely the biggest takeaway – learning to cope with an environment that is always in flux. Maintaining an agile attitude, rolling with the punches and adapting as quickly as possible, is one of the most important qualities to have right now if you’re managing a team. If you’ve been able to keep building and maintaining your team, helping them develop that agile attitude as well along the way, that will absolutely help future-proof your business.
How might that change again after COVID-19?
If you want to view the past eight months as one big learning experience, it looks like the conclusion will be that people will keep working from home, no matter how government guidelines change. Whether they work from home 100% of the time, or come into the office a few days a week, the likelihood is that they will expect a more flexible work environment. If you are managing a team, you will have to adapt to that expectation.
What does that mean for your management style? The tips from our virtual team building post will help you, but effectively managing a blended team will go beyond that. Keep reading for more advice on navigating change and keeping everyone on track.
How to help your team manage this change
Whether you’ve already transitioned to a team that combines both office and remote workers, or you’re in the middle of that transition, there’s lots you can do to make that change as painless as possible.
- Keep everyone connected. As we’ve already said, managing a blended workforce is different from managing one that’s 100% in-office. Beyond finding a way to give your at-home workers what they need without the typical resources an office comes with, it’s also about keeping them connected with their in-office counterparts and making sure their work is cohesive.
- Be very clear about objectives. And continue to hold everyone accountable for their part in working towards those objectives. Everyone needs to understand what is expected of them, regardless of their location. Just because you might be in the same room as someone else, it doesn’t mean you should expect more of them. Likewise, if someone is working from home, it’s important to ensure that they aren’t feeling left out of the equation.
- Support collaboration. Make sure that, if they need it, remote workers have people in the office they can rely on to check in with them for their contributions. Or, hold all of your meetings virtually so everyone can be present. Also, make sure you determine what work is best suited to an office environment, and what work is ideal for a remote one.
- Be a strong leader. The usual characteristics of a top-notch leader apply here: empathy, setting clear expectations, and effective communication. Create a solid foundation of trust, and empower all of your employees.
- Stay focused on performance management. Anytime an organisation or a team is about to try something new, it’s important to define where that new journey should be leading to. Again, that means defining goals and how to measure success. You might want to consider asking yourself questions about how well you are leveraging your teams, both in-office and remote, or how people are performing as individuals when it comes to agility. You want to be able to get a sense of the engagement from your entire team, and make sure everyone is working effectively together.
At the end of the day, this shift to a new reality will be challenging, but there’s no reason it can’t also be rewarding, both for the organisation as a whole and for each individual employee. That’s why agility is key. You’ll be able to take on those challenges with a positive attitude, shift as needed and keep forging ahead.
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