Although we highly believe in flexible work, we won’t lie. No working model is perfect, and leading in a hybrid work environment has its downsides too.
Whether your employees are at the office a few days a week or a month, it doesn’t matter. Managing a hybrid workforce requires adjustments from organizations, leaders, and team members.
You can’t expect to switch to a “work from anywhere” policy and keep the same working methods as a work model with a 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on-site schedule.
This article gives you honest and valuable insights into the most common obstacles managers can face with flexible work. But of course, we also share the best practices, solutions, and tips to overcome the potential drawbacks of the modern way of working.
Are you ready to make the most of hybrid work and your team thrive?
The 6 most common challenges when leading a hybrid work environment
1. Maintain smooth collaboration and communication
Interacting with colleagues can become complicated when people work from various locations (and sometimes at different times). Employees might come on-site without knowing which of their teammates works from the office that day and who stayed at home. This can impact teamwork and collaboration.
Moreover, the lack of a proper communication policy and the right tools to enhance smooth workflow between employees keeps hybrid teams from having effective communication and collaboration practices.
2. Keep employees engaged and connected
While most employees require flexible work arrangements, this doesn’t mean everything goes smoothly for businesses that offer this advantage. Not everyone might agree with these new procedures. Although they truly wish for more flexible schedules, some might find adapting to this working style difficult.
For example, the loss of workplace connection is a common issue with remote work. According to a Gallup study1, 32% of hybrid workers feel disconnected from the organizational culture, making it the second most mentioned downside. If this is not considered, managers might quickly see an increase in employee disengagement.
3. Avoid micromanagement practices
The goal of giving your staff more flexibility is to foster more autonomy and freedom in their professional lives, not the other way around. Trusting team members is essential for managers, especially when you lead in a hybrid work environment.
Unfortunately, micromanagement tends to increase when companies go hybrid. For some leaders, being unable to supervise their team in person becomes a source of stress. Training them about best hybrid work management practices is crucial to avoid this behavior and see employees suffer from the psychological effects of micromanagement.
🤳 Discover how your team members can easily find their colleagues and book a desk in their favorite office area thanks to our interactive floor plan feature!
4. Make no distinction between on-site and remote employees
Hybrid work can help implement DEI in the workplace (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) but can also lead to biased behaviors. Do you treat those you see in person regularly and those you meet from time to time only in the same manner?
Their working location has nothing to do with your staff's ability to do a great job and thrive in their career. Yet, the tendency to not include everyone equally, offer the same support, and entitle them to the same growth opportunities is higher in a hybrid work environment.
5. Avoid silos from appearing
Effective communication and smooth collaboration are more challenging when employees work from different locations. Not only can this lead to frustration and stress among your teams, but it can also create silos.
When everyone works in the office daily, it is easier to interact with people from other departments and gather teams together. With a “work from anywhere” policy, it gets trickier, and minimizing the creation of silos becomes a priority.
6. Prevent data leaks and cyberattacks
The best part about hybrid work is the opportunity to work from anywhere. They can stay home, go to a third workplace, or even embrace the digital nomad life.
For example, your staff might use a non-secure internet connection while working from a coworking space or a coffee shop. Using public WIFI puts your private data more at risk than the secure environment of the office.
Since you now know what the challenges of leading in a hybrid work environment can be, our first tip won’t surprise you. Adapt your communication strategy to the need for a hybrid workforce.
First, ask relevant questions such as:
Does the current communication setup enhance smooth collaboration and workflow?
Are the rules about communication clear enough?
What are the most recurrent communication issues your staff complains about?
Second, create a team expectations template dedicated to this aspect and share it with your team.
2. Analyze your team’s working tools
While Gen Z is totally OK with instant messaging like Slack, Baby Boomers might find adapting to this communication method challenging. However, one key aspect they all expect is the ability to work as productively from home as in the office.
Hybrid workplace technology solves this issue by providing employees with modern communication tools, project management software, desk booking platforms, and so on. Before choosing any of these digital support tools for your team, analyze your current equipment and answer the following questions:
Do they enable your staff to work efficiently?
Are they matching the needs of a hybrid workforce?
Being as employee-centric with remote workers as you are with those in the office is essential to make your hybrid team thrive and avoid exclusion. Not seeing your colleagues daily doesn’t mean they don’t need your support (again, supporting doesn’t mean micromanaging).
Also, keep in mind that, in a digital environment, human touch is key. Regularly ask them how they feel and how you can help make their work easier and more effective.
Last but not least, no matter where your team members work, don’t forget to show recognition to your team. Remind them that they are valued as much as their work.
4. Foster team bonding and workplace connection
Your coworkers might come on-site daily, but it doesn’t mean they don’t need to keep a strong bond with their colleagues and the workplace itself. This connection enhances well-being, motivation, engagement, and productivity.
We highly recommend you focus on maintaining a strong corporate culture and organizing team activities to boost this aspect. It gives your staff the opportunity to spend time together and build genuine relationships.
These activities don’t have to be related to work. They can include bouldering, video game tournaments, hiking in nature, volunteering for a cause, etc. The idea is to break the ice, foster interactions, develop stronger bonds with colleagues, and have fun!
Have you considered redesigning your office layout when switching to a hybrid work model? The role of the physical workplace is completely different when team members come on-site only a few days a week or a month. As the Gallup study1 highlights, they tend to prioritize meetings and collaborative work with colleagues as well as one-to-one meetings with managers.
Is your workspace optimized to foster collaboration and collective work?
Do you have enough meeting rooms?
Is the office designed only with cubicles, or does it provide your teams an open space to brainstorm ideas and collaborate easily?
Creating a hybrid office design is a must to enable your team to thrive and make the most of hybrid work.
6. Train your staff about cybersecurity in a hybrid work context
Protecting important data and private information is even more crucial in a hybrid work context than in a traditional working model. The IT team plays a key part in this, but everyone is responsible for applying cybersecurity practices wherever they work.
Yet, the number of ways hackers can access confidential data is tremendous, and you can’t expect your staff to know all the security measures to keep the workplace safe and secure. It is the organizations’ and managers’ responsibility to share the best practices and train their employees in cyber risk management.
7. Ask for feedback regularly
The biggest mistake you can make when leading in a hybrid work environment is to assume you know what your staff needs. The best way to avoid doing this is by regularly collecting their feedback and learning how you could make their work environment more suited to them.
You can take the opportunity to meet in the office to take some time to discuss what they think works and what doesn’t. Yet, don’t force it. Some people are uncomfortable sharing their opinion in person because they are worried about the impact it can have on your relationship and their career.
Anonymous employee satisfaction questionnaires are also relevant to getting honest feedback about the workplace and your team members’ feelings. The advantage is that you can focus on a specific topic and personalize it according to the areas you want to improve.
5 reasons why deskbird helps you lead in a hybrid work environment
1. Gives you an idea of your team’s schedules in a glimpse
Knowing who works from where and when is essential to managing a hybrid workforce successfully. Thanks to its week planning feature, the deskbird app gives you a clear insight into your employees’ schedules.
In a few clicks, you see who works from home, who comes to the office, and when. You can also get notifications when your team members modify their schedules so you can adjust yours if necessary.
2. Offers a user-friendly workspace booking platform that meets employees’ needs
Adopting a hybrid work model enables businesses to downsize their office space and reduce costs. But how do you handle this logistically to provide everyone with the workspace they need?
You use deskbird! Our desk booking system allows you to manage your hybrid workplace efficiently by enabling your staff to book the spot they want according to their needs.
Some prefer to sit at a single desk by the windows, others would like to be part of a big table in the open space, others need to book a meeting room for the day to collaborate with their teammates, etc. This way, you make sure they have the workspace they need to thrive, and you avoid scheduling conflicts!
3. Facilitates collaboration and teamwork for office days
With deskbird, it’s easy for you and your coworkers to keep track of who works where and when, facilitating collaboration and teamwork. Because you can see their schedules, but you can also make them visible to others with their permission.
Let’s say you give three of your team members a task to handle together. By seeing each other's timetables, they can prioritize coming to the office on the same days as their colleagues. Through this, they can work on this specific mission in person and get more things done than working independently from home.
4. Provides workplace analytics to make data-driven improvements
Our software is equipped with a workplace analytics feature. This key component enables you to understand how the office space is used. From a management perspective, improving your team members’ experience when coming on-site can be really useful.
For instance, you might notice that your colleague Mark always books a desk that is a bit isolated. It doesn’t surprise you, as Mark is a data analyst. Therefore, he needs to stay focused and avoid being distracted.
Once you have noticed that, you can ask him if he would like you to assign a specific space for him when he comes to the office. Therefore, he doesn’t have to worry about having a set space to perform his tasks.
5. Makes businesses save costs and embrace modern work
To know how much you could save using deskbird, we created the hybrid office calculator. Overall, deskbird helps you save on office costs in various ways, from lowering your real-estate budget to reducing your energy bills.
The money you save by shifting to a more flexible work model and using deskbird can be dedicated to other important management tasks. For instance, experts talk more and more about the importance of employee well-being. So why not use what has been saved with a well-managed and optimized hybrid working environment to implement more well-being initiatives?
The deskbird app helps organizations in areas other than hybrid work management. Request a free demo to discover all the features designed to make your business and workforce thrive!
Do you feel that leading in a hybrid work environment has too many challenges to tackle? The perks of the hybrid work model outnumber them by far! Not only does flexibility at work align with the trends of the future of work, but it is also good for the growth and success of your business.
Offering flexible work arrangements is no longer an option for companies; learning how to manage a hybrid workforce is essential. A successful hybrid leadership style includes having:
a tailored-made communication system;
proper hybrid workplace technology;
an employee-centric approach;
an efficient cybersecurity strategy;
an office design made for hybrid teams.
Do you want to see how we can support you with this new way of working in practice? Start a free trial of the deskbird app and get the best tips from our team of hybrid experts!