Hybrid remote work: 6 strategies to make it successful

Around 40% of managers surveyed by the Harvard Business Review said they don’t have the skills they need to manage a remote team.

Still, remote work is now common and popular because of the pandemic and because new technologies have made it easier to work from anywhere in the world. Many companies now let their employees work a few days remotely or let some teammates work remotely full-time while others work on-site.

Now that more companies are using this hybrid remote work model—sometimes called WFH 2.0 because it’s the model many companies are adopting after an entire year of remote work—team leaders need to tailor their management techniques for these teams’ unique characteristics to ensure their companies continue to thrive and grow.

1. Normalize a hybrid remote work model

Managing a hybrid remote team effectively requires setting clear expectations to avoid misunderstanding and built-up resentment. Some colleagues might feel uncomfortable continuing to work remotely while others are returning to the office. Others might struggle to include their remote colleagues once they’ve returned to office work.

To make the transition as seamless as possible, brush up on communication techniques to keep things as transparent as possible. For example, consider establishing company policies that allow people to work remotely two days a week, or require that people who work remotely full-time obtain special permission from their managers.

Here are a few other ways to build a healthy hybrid remote work model:

  1. Set out transparent and equitable rules for who can work remotely and when, then make sure that everyone on your team knows the company policy. You can do that by emailing everyone a memo or posting the rules in an online channel that everyone uses to communicate.
  2. Don’t make remote work a privilege enjoyed only by your most senior teammates. That could cause some teammates to feel like you don’t trust them enough to allow them to work remotely. Remote work shouldn’t be a privilege, but rather an integral part of your company’s hybrid remote work culture.
  3. Normalize remote work by encouraging team leaders and managers to work off-site at least some of the time.
  4. Recruit and onboard employees remotely. Ensure that the process is the same for everyone, so you don’t accidentally create discrepancies between the way people are hired or shown the ropes. The goal is to standardize the process for everyone and avoid creating inequality.

Darcy Boles, an expert in remote company culture and the Director of Culture and Innovation at TaxJar, argues that companies should be “going hybrid with a remote-first mindset.” That means operating like a remote team even when many of your employees are working in the office.

“Spend at least a few days working outside of the office,” Boles suggests to managers. “Put yourself in the position of the people you’re managing.”

2. Create a cohesive work culture for your hybrid remote team

To create a healthy hybrid remote work culture, you must put extra effort into creating a connected culture between remote and office workers and strengthening the bonds between everyone, no matter where they are located.

Your company’s work culture can make or break your business. Nearly half of all job seekers surveyed said a good work culture is the number one thing they’re looking for in a prospective employer, according to a survey by Jobvite. And 88% of people surveyed said it’s a significant factor when deciding where to work.

One key way to create a connected hybrid remote work culture is to make sure that no one feels left out from the decision-making or creative process. That means ensuring everyone—remote or not—has an equal opportunity to participate in meetings, make decisions, and feel heard. Read more


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5 key takeaways from COVID-19 about remote work

When we had high hopes for a bright new decade, none of us imagined that millions of workers around the world would trade their office cubicles for kitchen tables. It’s been an unprecedented year that’s prompted many sudden and unexpected transformations in the workplace. 

We didn’t think we’d pivot completely to online business meetings or that we’d only discuss work projects by phone or online chat. We had no idea that trainings and events would turn 100% digital or that it’d be a year devoid of business travel.

Attitudes about how and where we work—and the practices covering how we get work done—changed overnight. Businesses had to adapt fast—and they did. These changes will likely stay with us beyond the pandemic.

Eighty-four percent of US companies say they’ll offer permanent remote work after the pandemic passes. Others plan to implement a hybrid arrangement of working partly at home and partly in the office. Having conducted what’s turned out to be a vast work-from-home experiment, businesses have learned that it works.

Here are five lessons the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us about remote work:

1. Remote workers are productive

Without the distractions of a physical office, workers get more done. According to McKinsey, 41% of people working remotely say they’re more productive than they were in the office, and 28% say they’re just as productive. 

Businesses are also seeing healthy work practices that may remain after COVID-19 departs. Fifty-three percent report being more trusting of their employees, 49% are offering more flexible work hours, and 38% have virtual teams working collaboratively across multiple locations and departments.  

2. Cloud technology is essential in times of crisis

We’ve truly learned the importance of technology during COVID. In a Cisco study, more than half of respondents said they are now using technology that was available to them pre-pandemic but which they had ignored or rejected. Sixty-seven percent reported the pandemic accelerated their adoption of tools to take advantage of cloud-based communications, collaboration, and productivity.

Digital tools that let employees collaborate have become the new normal, and we’ll continue to rely on them after the pandemic has passed, especially video conferencing.

3. Social interactions enable collaboration

Working remotely has shown us the importance of social interaction. Sixty-four percent of study respondents report that not being able to socialize around the watercooler and in the lunchroom makes teamwork a challenge. 

They report that, instead, they’re using digital tools for social video conference meetups (67%) to communicate on social chat channels( (54%) and to hold interactive competitions (36%).

4. Employees’ personal lives matter

Remote work during a pandemic has taught us it’s important to consider employees’ personal lives. Not everyone suddenly forced to work at home has a quiet, organized home office without distractions. Some have children at home doing remote schooling. Many partners or roommates are also working at home. 

It’s a lot to handle, but managers can help by checking in regularly, often without a specific agenda, and asking how it’s going. Allow employees to adjust their work schedules to accommodate personal or family needs. Consider offering an extra PTO day for your employees to get some needed rest and relaxation. 

Some employees work more hours at home than they did at the office—remind them to stop at the end of their workday and put the laptop away.

5. Importance of business agility 

We’ve learned that companies need to be adaptive, flexible, and creative in an environment that changes quickly. 

Companies have addressed employees’ needs by creating COVID-19 crisis management teams, changing office rules, and adapting or creating work-from-home policies. They’ve transitioned their suddenly remote office staff to virtual tools and made other changes as the situation evolves. 

Preparing for the future

While we don’t know what the future holds, we know that business won’t return to normal. The pandemic disrupted our work lives in unprecedented ways, and businesses are planning for a future of work that looks vastly different than it did before COVID. – Read more

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State of Remote Work

How employees across the US feel about working remotely in a post- COVID-19 world, their new workplace expectations and what employers need to know to recruit and retain top talent.

2020 is the year the world went remote.

The COVID-19 pandemic forced organizations around the world to quickly adapt to a new remote reality, in some cases for the first time, in the largest work-from-home shift ever. We’ve officially fast-tracked to the future of work.

Meetings suddenly became Zoom meetings, with video calls happening 50% more than before COVID-19. Not only did people embrace remote work, they have now grown to expect it. After six months of working from home full-time, we learned that one in two U.S workers won’t return to a job that doesn’t offer remote work as an option.

For Owl Labs’ 4th annual State of Remote Work report, we partnered with the leading remote analytics firm, Global Workplace Analytics, to learn more about the current state of remote work in 2020 and what lies ahead. We wanted to uncover remote work statistics and gather the current work from home trends to provide you with a comprehensive remote work benchmark report during COVID-19.

In this report, you’ll learn:

  • How people are adapting to remote work
  • How companies are handling the COVID-19 guidelines for telework
  • Current remote work statistics and trends
  • How the new work-from-anywhere movement affects lifestyle decisions
  • What leaders and companies should know to support today’s employees’ needs
  • How key findings from 2020 compare to the Owl Labs State of Remote Work Report from 2019

Executive Summary

In this survey, we learned that almost 70% of full time workers in the United States are working from home during COVID-19. While working remotely, individuals are facing a more difficult balance between home life and work, adapting new technology by leveraging video meetings, and staying productive in their home offices (or closets for 15% of survey respondents.) During COVID-19, there have been unexpected benefits and challenges—people are saving almost $500 per month on additional expenses, however, one in five reports working more hours per week during the pandemic.

Despite difficult circumstances for working remotely, 77% of respondents agree that after COVID-19, having the option to work from home would make them happier.

Leaders and managers: 80% of full-time workers expect to work from home at least three times per week after COVID-19 guidelines are lifted and companies and workspaces are able to re-open.

Remote Work Statistics and Trends During COVID-19

  1. Almost 70% of full-time workers in the U.S are working from home during COVID-19
  2. 1 in 2 people won’t return to jobs that don’t offer remote work after COVID-19
  3. 77% of respondents agree that after COVID-19, being able to work from home (WFH) would make them happier
  4. 75% of people are the same or more productive during COVID-19 while working from home
  5. In 2020, people are using video meetings 50% more than pre-COVID-19
  6. 1 in 2 people would move if they were able to WFH all or most of the time
  7. Working remotely saves 40 minutes daily on commute
  8. In 2020 after COVID-19, 80% expect to work from home at least 3x/week
  9. 1 in 5 people report working more during COVID-19
  10. Only 20-25% of companies pay or share the cost of home office equipment, furniture, cable, chair
  11. 80% agree that there should be one day a week with no meetings at all
  12. 81% of respondents think their employer will support remote work after COVID-19
  13. 23% of full-time employees are willing to take a pay cut of over 10% in order to work from home at least some of the time
  14. 44% did not find it necessary to get dressed up (think: clothing, hair, makeup) for a video meeting
  15. During COVID-19, on average, people are saving $479.20 per month

Table of Contents

Section 1 – Who They Are – Background and Demographics

Section 2 – Remote Work is the New Norm

Section 3 – Communication Reinvented (due to COVID-19)

Section 4 – COVID-19 Cautions

Section 5 – A New Era of Professionalism

Section 6 – Next Stop: Suburbia

Section 7 – Remote Work is the Preferred Way to Work

Section 8 – Remote Work Benefits: Employer Edition

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