Hybrid Work: Tools and Tips to Use and How to Manage Your Employees

A couple of years ago, your average Joe would not have predicted the current work structure, let alone a decade. The pandemic has redefined and revolutionized the workspace.

While some prefer the traditional office space, others prefer the comfort of their homes. And some prefer a mix. More than 55 percent of American workers preferred working from home three times a week. It’s safe to assume that more offices are now embracing a hybrid work model.

Hybrid work is “a flexible work structure where some employees work remotely and other team members work from a central location or office.” The choice between working from home or the office is contingent upon many factors such as employee happiness and productivity, company cost-savings, the condition of the pandemic, and many others.

Gone are the days when managing your teams was a breeze—calling them from their desks for an impromptu meeting or delivering news to your whole team via a loud office announcement. In fact, only a small portion (30 percent) of company leaders wish to continue maintaining hybrid teams

But, let’s be honest, this model is here to stay.

So, how do employers ensure that they are managing their teams in as productive a manner—or even better— as before the pandemic?

Below, in no specific order, are seven tools and tips that will allow you to manage your work-from-home and office teams.

#1 Video Conferencing Tools for Meetings

We all know that meeting in person has more value than messaging someone. As human beings, there are several non-verbal cues that we pick up from each other, such as humor, urgency, seriousness, etc. These tend to be missed out over a voice call, let alone a text message; they can be more fully communicated via facial reactions and body language.

Therefore, in order to avoid miscommunication among your team members, it’s best to use video conferencing for daily group meetings, important announcements, or one-on-one meetings.

Here are some of the top video conferencing tools you can utilize for your hybrid teams:

  1. Zoom Meetings
  2. Microsoft Teams
  3. Google Meet
  4. Zoho
  5. RingCentralVideo
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For more information on this, visit TechRadar for an overview of the top video conferencing tools.

#2 Messaging Apps to Keep Communication Simple

As important it is to have video conferences with your employees, common sense dictates that it’s not always feasible to do so. Sometimes, short, quick announcements or instructions don’t require verbal cues or facial expressions to communicate.

Imagine getting a voice call for the tiniest instructions or gathering everyone for a video conference to discuss something that can easily be communicated via a message.

In such cases, it’s best to use a messaging app to keep communication as simple, quick, and efficient as possible. Less time wasted on inefficient and “cumbersome” communication is more time spent working and being productive.

According to Zapier, here are the top five chatting apps that your teams can use: 

  1. Slack
  2. Microsoft Teams
  3. Google Chat
  4. Discord
  5. Mattermost

#3 Project Management Tools to Keep Everyone Productive

With a hybrid workspace, your team members are not in physical proximity to each other, which means keeping everybody on par with work assignments, deadlines, and goals is a task in itself.

To make sure that everyone is doing their part, avoiding miscommunication, or worst of all, slacking off, managers need to utilize project management tools to ensure that all their employees, both from home and office, match synergies and work as efficiently as possible together.

Project management tools will have hybrid teams on the same page about work expectations, project details, work events and meetings, and deadlines. It will enable smoother communication, higher productivity, and enhanced employee engagement.

Here are some of the best project management tools out there:

  1. Slack
  2. ProofHub
  3. Wrike
  4. Asana
  5. Easy Projects

For more information about the best project management tools, visit FinancesOnline.

#4 Allocate the Right Manpower to the Right Team

Some people are more suited to work from the office, perhaps because they’re used to it or because they function better in an office setting or maybe because there are too many distractions at home. The same goes for those who prefer to work from home; some are more suited for this role.

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However, some roles require employees to be in the office, while there are those roles whose work from home could save the company money.

Managers need to understand and analyze their employee’s roles and productivity to make the best call in allocating the right manpower to the right team.

If an employee prefers to work from home, and their productivity there is higher, but they’re required at the office as well, it’d be best to give them more work-from-home time to boost their productivity.

#5 Balanced Communication versus Too Much Communication

In today’s work environment, it’s essential to keep communication as essential as possible. Yes, there is such a thing as over-communication—aka talking too much.

While it’s important to communicate with your teams about work reports, developments, and check-ins, it can also be irritating if their inbox or chats are being constantly bombarded with messages. Sometimes, people just want to get their work done in peace, especially folks living with their family and working from home (I can attest to this).

To avoid unnecessary communication throughout the workday, a good practice would be to have a call at the beginning and end of the day. The former will give managers to set expectations for the day, and the latter will allow them to analyze the day’s results.

#6 Take It Easy with All the Tools

Without a doubt, managing a hybrid team would be a challenge without all the online tools available. However, the luxury of options can also impede employee productivity.

Sometimes, employees feel that more time is wasted juggling through various apps and looking for information. If your teams are spending more time shuffling through their apps than working, you’ve defeated the purpose of purchasing the apps in the first place.

The best solution to this problem is consolidation. Instead of using separate tools for chatting, project management, video calls, and other communication, find an app with as many of these features under one roof, so your employees spend less time shuffling and more time getting work done.

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#7 Encourage Healthy Communication among Members of Your Office and Home Teams

This goes without saying, but your employees are human. Humans thrive on social interaction (yes, even introverts).

It’s easy for employees working in the office to hang out together for dinner or drinks after work. But your employees from home might get left out, especially if their commute is long.

To make sure all your teams are healthily interacting with each other, pick one day out of the month where everyone can gather informally and let out some steam. The gathering doesn’t necessarily have to be in the office. It can be a place that’s comfortable for everyone.

Managing hybrid teams can be a challenge. But with all the tools available today, it shouldn’t be as challenging. 

As managers, ensure that all your teammates are on the same level with work expectations via project management tools. 

Foster good communication with the use of video conferencing and messaging apps while at the same time making sure more time is spent working than communicating.

Make sure your employees’ productivity is not hampered by their decision/necessity to work from home or the office. Find a balance that works best for them. 

Don’t overwhelm your teams with too many tools; otherwise, they’ll spend less working and more time toggling through apps.

Lastly, there is no “work-from-home employees versus work-from-office employees.” We’re all part of the same team. Allow for social interactions that foster that spirit.

Managing hybrid teams, as with many other innovations in history, can have challenging growing pains. But the more this becomes the new normal, the more normal this new dynamic is going to feel, and the easier it will be to handle.

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