Like it or not, remote and hybrid work is here to stay. Even with pandemic office lockdowns easing, many workers who began working from home at the start of the pandemic are still doing so in some capacity. According to a recent Gallup survey, which assessed the experiences, needs, and future plans of over 140,000 U.S. employees since the start of the pandemic, a majority of these workers continue to work from home at least part time as of February 2022.
“Most remote-capable employees continued to work from home at least part of the time, but the mix became a nearly even split— 42% had a hybrid schedule, and 39% worked entirely from home,” Gallup stated.
Given the massive rise of remote and hybrid work, leaders must brace for a future in which management is done remotely.
How Leaders Can Create a More Remote/Hybrid-Friendly Workplace
What are some ways leaders can prepare for a more remote and collaborative workforce? Below are three recommendations based on actions some organizations have already taken, according to a recent report from CIO:
Use crowdsourcing for innovative solutions: During the pandemic, packing materials manufacturer Avery Dennison came up with a collaborative solution called “brainwriting” to make its business more adaptable to crises.
A type of crowdsourcing, “brainwriting” involves obtaining ideas from employees during digital ideation sessions on how to best overcome the challenges that impact their jobs. Each session is separated into rounds with time limits. Afterwards, the ideas are shared with the next participants, who use them to come up with their own ideas. Then participants rate the ideas, and the company uses these ratings to decide which ideas to incorporate.
Replace traditional leadership hierarchies with more collaborative environments: As they transitioned to remote work, some organizations did away with traditional hierarchical leadership structures. By replacing them with more collaborative environments, it helped speed up communication and improve employee relations.
“I found myself trading calls and texts with colleagues at all levels of the organization, at all hours of the night, in the early days of the pandemic — a welcome change, and one that allowed us to be proactive in the face of challenge,” Angela Yochem, executive vice president and chief transformation and digital officer at Novant Health, told CIO. “Everyone recognized that we were all in this together, and it was no time to be standing on ceremony when someone two or three levels up the org chart had information that was needed immediately.”
Be intentional about building relationships: Prior to the pandemic, relationships were maintained in shared office spaces. Now, with many people working from home, leaders find themselves having to be intentional about building and maintaining relationships with their staff. Leaders need to continue to be intentional about building relationships with their teams, whether through managers planning regular video meetings with individual team members on a weekly or monthly basis, and/or through remote organization-wide events planned with the intention of fostering relationships with employees.
The evolving remote/hybrid workforce will continue to challenge organizational leadership in new and unpredictable ways. Are your leaders prepared?
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Collett, Stacy. (4 April 2022). The pandemic pivot: 5 key leadership lessons that will last. CIO.
Wigert, Ben. (15 March 2022). The Future of Hybrid Work: 5 Key Questions Answered With Data. Gallup.