Trust is a two-way street in every relationship, and so it is for businesses too. When trust is mutually earned and shared among employers and employees, the organization benefits. Research by Harvard Business Review highlights this: ‘high-trust’ companies have 106% more energy at work among people, 50% higher productivity, 40% less burnout, and 13% fewer sick days.
Coming up on the two-year mark since COVID-19 changed our world, workplace norms have shifted. Many company leaders (nearly 82% according to Gartner) intend to continue keeping work-from-home as a viable option for their employees.
This spells new shifts for managers. Before COVID-19, managing employees in-person was easy from a single location – the office. During COVID-19, managers learned ways in which to manage their teams remotely through a single device – the laptop or mobile. But, in a hybrid workplace, managers will have to discover ways to manage both remote and in-person employees while facilitating trust and accountability.
At the outset, let us acknowledge that it is no easy task to effectively supervise and handle two diverse sets of people with completely different working styles. Biases may creep in, like preferences for office-goers over remote workers; or even delays in addressing urgent requirements of remote workers, unknowingly causing friction within teams.
Trust employees to do it right
Drawing on lessons that have worked for managers in the physical as well as online worlds can help arrive at newer working models for the hybrid workforce. For instance, managers can:
- Avoid micromanaging. This advice is common for in-person teams and holds good even in the virtual world. Micromanaging indicates a lack of trust and can quickly deflate employee morale. Rather than following rigid routines, managers can think of other ways to foster trust, such as periodic check-ins or dedicated time for project reviews and feedback.
- Emphasize communication. It is common for employees to communicate less frequently when working remotely. The absence of in-office, in-person encounters erases many of the social interactions that help build camaraderie and trust. But even today, direct communication between employer and employees is vital to enforce trust, as per the 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer.
- Validate trust. Ensuring that trust remains a two-way street is tricky, since employees may tend to slack off. There are ways to validate trust to ensure that freedom does not get confused with tardiness. Managers can involve employees in decision-making processes and set clear working boundaries giving their team the right amount of space to hit their targets, be productive, and continue to thrive in trusting hybrid workplaces.
These are some best practices we suggest to make it easier to manage hybrid teams. Let us know if you are aware of other practices. Or even share with us how you’ve been preparing to return to work in a hybrid workplace.