The emergence of the hybrid workforce has taken a toll on people at the management level. One survey showed that managers feel stuck between leadership and employees. 54% of managers surveyed claim they felt leadership was out of touch with employees. Managers have taken a greater mental hit from the transition to remote and hybrid work than other individuals.
With many leaders pushing for more in-office work and employees pushing for more remote work, managers must find a balance. They need a solution that helps everyone to feel satisfied with the hybrid situation. It’s a unique and challenging position to be in. But it can be simplified when you consider the fact that the overarching characteristic of a healthy hybrid workplace is the same as that of an in-office workplace. It’s a culture of trust.
So how do you build trust in the hybrid workplace?
Help Employees Build Social Capital
Many workers maintained thriving relationships throughout the COVID quarantine. Still, others lost connections and the benefits of inter-office relationships. That challenge is even harder for new employees. Social capital is an important factor in employee engagement. It also is for leaders to feel confidence and trust in their employees. Yet, building social capital can’t be just about returning to the office.
Managers have to find creative ways to encourage networking and team-building both in-office and remotely. Prioritising social activity is now an essential aspect of the manager’s role as those inter-office connections help build trust.
Be Clear about How Communication Happens
Communication has always been essential to trust-building. The only difference now is in how we communicate. You can help your employees have healthy communication by setting clear boundaries about how to communicate. Make sure everyone is using the same app to communicate. Set time-related boundaries on communication and create cultural norms around the language used. These are different ways you can create a secure, trusting environment.
Vary Your Communication Style
Maybe you used to walk around the office once in a while and give people pats on the back for doing a good job. If that’s the only way you offer affirmation or feedback, you are now going to miss out on communicating with a whole subset of the workforce. It’s important to find new ways to reach out and connect with employees. Ensure they know when they are doing well and when they need to improve. By staying connected with them, you’re also setting the tone and structure for a culture of giving and receiving feedback.
Watch Out for Proximity Bias
Research shows that humans tend to display a preference for people who are nearby. This is called proximity bias and can be a problem in the hybrid workforce. Different roles require different levels of visibility in the office. It’s not fair to show a preference for those who work best from the office over those who work best from home.
While there’s no easy answer for avoiding proximity bias, being aware, transparent and communicative will help foster a culture of security and trust.
Tell Them Why
It may seem trivial. People have discovered that they can be just as productive working from home as from the office. They now need a reason why they should come into the office. Making the commute worth it is a challenge each company has to overcome. Employees need to understand the role of the office in their career.
It also doesn’t hurt to create an environment they want to be in. You shouldn’t offer career advantages based on who works in office and who works remotely. However, you can create social events and connections that employees see value in and want to be a part of.
In many ways, the challenges of management are the same as they always have been. You need to create a culture of trust. In addition, you want to help people connect with each other. You want to foster healthy communication. The only difference in the hybrid workplace is in how you do it. And that requires a little outside-the-box thinking and creativity.
Make leadership development part of your HR strategy and empower your leaders to guide and grow their team members. Contact us and find out how we can support you with our tailored leadership development programmes, coaching your leaders to success.