Workplace leaders took on new responsibilities as the world of work adapted to a pandemic. The role that managers played at the beginning of 2020 no longer looks as it did as the skillset and expectations have changed. While the benefits of a hybrid workplace are many, leading in a hybrid workplace is one of the many new requirements managers may or may not be prepared to navigate.
What’s new about leading in a hybrid workplace?
Most managers never expected to lead a remote team. Prior to March 2020, the majority of organizations operated during traditional office hours in a shared building. With the pandemic came the shift toward work from home environments that created physical separation between teammates. A few of the new demands of leading a remote team included:
- Changing communication channels
- Supporting employee wellness while working from home
- Creating new work expectations and best practices
- Relying on technology and helping team members use it well
- Managing work-life balance and remote work for self and others
- Minimizing interruptions at work that are different than in a shared workplace
Leading in a hybrid workplace includes many of the same challenges, with the addition of new ones like:
- Front-line communication of updated and evolving policies and expectations
- Scheduling meetings around at-home days and days in office
- Managing the emotional wellbeing of your team members who are anxious about returning to the office
- Navigating conversations with people with differing views on pandemic related issues
The common denominator in many of these new expectations is that managers need to lead people more holistically than ever before. The line between work life and home life is more blurred and leading in a hybrid workplace will continue to bring those inherent challenges to managers. So, what’s a leader to do?
What to consider while leading in a hybrid workplace
Consider some of these tips for successfully leading in a hybrid workplace.
- Create a sense of belonging. According to a study by BetterUp, teams with the highest belonging have leaders who are 25% higher on encouraging participation skills, 24% higher on alignment, 22% higher on empathy, 18% higher on recognition, 16% higher on social connection, and 6% higher on relationship building. While no small task, creating a sense of belonging means that leaders begin building what BetterUp calls these “core inclusive skills.” When leaders are inclusive, the results are significant. Remote and hybrid teams are:
- 50% more productive
- 90% more engaged
- 150% more innovative
- 54% lower in turnover intention
- Invest in coaching. Leading in a hybrid workplace requires making the shift from manager to coach. Becoming a coach requires a different mindset and a bolstering of skills. Investing in personal coaching can help managers prepare for this new way of leading their team. According to Gallup, employees who receive meaningful feedback from their manager are 3.5x more likely to be engaged at work, which leads to better wellbeing at work. Knowing how to give this feedback based on employees unique strengths and needs and providing accountability is part of the transition managers need to make as they are leading in a hybrid workplace.
Leading well in a hybrid workplace is crucial for organizational success as employees return to a new way of working. While not without peril, it can be done well when leaders are trained and equipped to handle new responsibilities with their team.