The new world of hybrid work requires new ways of managing the employees and evaluating work performance. From hiring new team members to ensuring they have the proper work-life balance, hybrid work brings new challenges that need to be solved.
This new world of hybrid work requires new ways of managing employees, evaluating work performance, and also new methods of meetings, goal setting, team organization, recruiting, onboarding, and promotion. In many cases, these elements are either simply left to chance or explored by individual managers and executives on their own. However, such ad hoc prescriptions often do not lead to success.Therefore, when planning for a hybrid work model, the entire employee journey needs to be considered.
In the business perspective (link) section we have already talked about the tremendous advantage of hybrid work in terms of employer attractiveness and -even more important when it comes to hiring - the increased "search radius" for talents. Depending on the hybrid work model (link to section)implemented, proximity to a company location becomes less important. However, acouple of points need to be reflected in the different phases of the hiring process:
The first and most crucial element is to ensure that (a new) employee’s technological equipment meets the needs for both, remote and on-site work (for instance laptops instead of PCs). As remote work always entails security and safety aspects, make sure remote work policy is understood and related equipment needs are identified together with a new employee based on his/her individual situation. Initiate procurement well ahead so the new employees receive their equipment prior to the contractual start date. If need be, make sure new employees receive the needed support to set up their remote workplace.Onboarding training regarding corporate policies, processes, services etc. need to be organized. In a hybrid setting, this can often be organized a lot easier as the individual elements often involve short meetings with a variety of different employees from different departments. Coordination gets much easier if there's the choice between online and physical.
A hybrid mentoring model can be implemented a lot easier as well and is presumably more effective as a mentor's availability is just better in a hybrid setting. The mentor is responsible that all onboarding training elements have been completed successfully and is available for any issues arising. During the onboarding process a new employee should not only meet the persons in charge for administrative issues, but first and foremost the colleagues and team mate she will work with in his new job. Whether this is organized in form of a virtual full team welcome, a series of physical one-to-ones or in what ever other form is a matter of company culture, in a hybrid work model there are no limits. The question is only about mandatory physical meetings with all team members. Based on experiences made, there is less need for policy or planning in this area: working together remotely creates enough curiosity and will for employees who really want to meet. We all know about colleagues we have met exactly once: at the occasion of the official onboarding team meeting.
While mentoring continues to be important during the first months of employment, performance management, ongoing feedback as well as informal touch points are important elements which need to be meaningfully combined to provide a good hybrid work experience. Depending on the hybrid work model, performance management can vary significantly. While in the synchronized hybrid model for instance, performance management can more or less be continued as it was before, in more flexible settings performance evaluation needs to shift from input-based to results-based performance measurement. In a flexible hybrid model, both, in-person as well as online exchange between manager and employee needs to set expectations about results to be completed in a given time.Ideally, managers remain accessible for check-backs and informal touch points to discuss stumbling blocks, deviations from expectations etc. in a timely manner.By doing so, formal feedback rounds sometime get obsolete.
Managers need to have an eye on two phenomena, especially when it comes to employees with a high proportion of remote work in a hybrid work model.
Both, always-on and virtual overload can lead to stress, burnout and anxiety, thus negatively impacting employee performance. The manifold touch points flexible hybrid work offers should be used to timely identify these threats and develop individual mitigation measures.
Last but not least a discussion on engagement of employees in remote or hybrid settings isn’t complete without monitoring systems. While such systems do not represent a characteristic of hybrid or remote work, the discussion has reignited in this context. In the physical world, too, such systems have generally focused on monitoring presence. However, most systems cannot determine whether productive work was being done during this time of presence.The same holds true for online/remote monitoring systems which from the author’s perspective have two major downsides:
Regulation is another aspect to be taken into account when considering online monitoring systems. Depending on the legal framework (link to Legal chapter) within with a company operates in a given country, these systems may be subject to narrow limits. In Germany for instance, tracking systems allowing to monitor which software application is currently used on an employee’s device will in most cases be successfully prevented by the workers council, just as systems tracking physical activity on a device (cursor movements, keyboard usage) or systems using a devices camera.
The discussion on monitoring systems is an old one and needs to be seen in conjunction with the shift from input oriented to results-based / output-oriented performance management. In the hybrid leadership chapter (link) the role of trust has already been highlighted – trust and monitoring systems are two elements that just don’t work well together.
Learning and development is an area that hasn't yet been exhaustively discussed but offers great potential in a hybrid work setting. Physical presence and virtual elements can be combined in an almost ideal way to create very effective offerings. While "full remote" trainings are available since quite awhile, mixed formats - in which parts of a training program are conducted onsite while others are delivered online - are still rare. Remote learning is ideal for focused self-learning, on-site training modules can play out their strengths in interactive teaching formats. Combining the strengths of both models opens up a path for the development of new yet very promising formats.
When it comes to the best collaboration tools, virtual office solutions are a superior alternative to video conferencing solutions such as Zoom, Teams or Webex.
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