Today we are going to be talking about making genuine connections with your virtual team members, and what that really means. Connecting with people virtually goes beyond simply sharing information about each other; it comes from genuine intention to grow relationships, and the genuine presence that comes from that intention.
How to Implement a Flex Schedule in Your Hybrid Team
If the Covid-19 pandemic has proven anything, it’s that working from home on a large scale is a policy that can be highly effective and productive for all kinds of businesses. It’s also done a lot to make the case for flexible work schedules. After all, once you’re working from home, what’s more important – that you put in your 8 hours per day, or that you work those hours in a consecutive 9-to-5 block?
Many employees would argue that apart from being present at mandatory meetings, flex work allows them to choose their most productive hours and maintain a healthy work-life balance. The question for hybrid team leaders then is simple: how do you implement flex hours into a system that wasn’t designed for them?
Generate Buy-In from Leadership
The first step is to make sure that everyone is on board with a flex schedule in your hybrid team, starting at the top of the organization. For supervisors and leaders used to gauging productivity by how many people are at their desks audibly making calls or tapping away at keyboards, the shift to hybrid work can be disconcerting. They may feel that working from home means their staff are relaxing and slacking off, and that workers should put in more hours or answer emails on their personal time.
Leadership needs to understand that productivity can be measured in many ways, and in a hybrid environment, measurable success metrics and KPIs tied to specific deliverables are a great place to start.
Invite Employee Input
Before you spend a lot of time crafting the ‘perfect’ flex schedule in your hybrid team, consider that one size may not fit all. Some people want to work from home full-time, while others want to split their time between home and office. Some may appreciate working different hours. Taking the time to ask for their preferences whether they be based on commute, environmental needs, work and communication style, or any other factor. Doing so will make them feel respected and empowered, improving morale.
At the same time, it’s important that you are open and honest about the limitations of flex time for your team. Perhaps you have absolute requirements that all staff are present for certain meetings, or you need coverage during certain hours where flex work simply isn’t possible. Maybe the nature of your work involves handing projects off from person to person in a timely manner, meaning you need overlap between people’s shifts and can’t accommodate vastly differing schedules.
Whatever the unique requirements of your work, make sure you communicate them to your team so they understand the limits of flex time and work with you to implement a system that maximizes both flexibility and productivity.
Think Outside the Box
When considering flexible hours and a hybrid work force, many leaders overlook more creative options such as compressed work weeks: giving staff the opportunity to work extra hours in exchange for a three-day weekend. Remember the flexibility doesn’t have to mean “how do we make sure everyone approximates a 9-5 workday, five days a week.” It can mean any system that allows your team to accomplish its deliverables while giving everyone the best possible work-life balance. Think, how can you implement a flex schedule in your hybrid team?
Covid-19 presented the single largest disruption to office work in history, and employees are more likely than ever to seek out employment that embraces a flexible schedule and meets their need for work-life balance. Those businesses that understand this change and adapt to the times will stand the best chance of attracting and retaining talent over the long run.
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A year ago, I would have had an incredibly difficult time imagining a set of circumstances that would have kept me from a dear friend’s funeral. Yet, that’s exactly what happened when I recently found myself unable to attend due to COVID-19 restrictions. As I mourned this loss in my own way, it also made me pause and reflect on just how much the Coronavirus pandemic is wearing on us emotionally.
American workers spend a lot of time in meetings – an average of 6 hours per week by some estimates, with the total number of weekly meetings across the country as high as 55 million. At the same time, nearly half of all meetings are rated as “poor” by employees, meaning they walk away feeling as though their time has been wasted and little was accomplished. (Verizon)