With many big companies, like Robinhood, shifting to remote-first working environments, it is a wise idea for other office-based companies to at least consider the extra possibilities that moving to a flexible work-from-home system can bring.
However, as with every big change, people and companies can develop cold feet and may feel uncertain about making the correct choice. Using virtual meeting software and meeting in virtual offices is very new and uncharted territory for most CEOs.
One of the concerns stems from the obvious difference of not physically being able to see your employees whenever you want. This change in the work dynamic worries managers who won’t be able to stick to their usual routines and they can’t help but feel that they won’t be able to do their jobs properly - making sure employees are on task and on the same page.
Trust is an integral part of ensuring that your company runs smoothly, it’s the glue that keeps your teams collaborating effectively, it’s the grease that quickens all forms of communication, it's the fire that warms us and makes employees feel welcome in the company.
So, with trust being so important, how can you maintain high levels of inter boss-employee and employee-colleague trust whilst transitioning into the remote-first landscape?
Put an end to unproductive micro-management
Boss-Employee Trust: Spying is not the Solution!!!
With the sudden switch up during the pandemic, where a lot of companies scrambled to move their workforce online, a new industry swept in to take advantage - online monitoring software.
Fuelled by distrust, companies have produced intrusive software that monitors employees' actions throughout the day - pretending that this is similar to how a manager checks up on their employees physically.
However, this is not the answer. Trust is a two-way street, if you want your employees to trust you, you also need to trust them. Employees under surveillance experience higher levels of anxiety as the inability to loosen up during the workday negatively affects their productivity. Moreover, the lack of mutual trust suggests uncertainty in the longevity of their position. People need to take breaks and have moments to themselves. This may seem counterintuitive, allowing employees the agency to control their own time increase workplace productivity in the long run.
Horror stories where employers have tried to sneak in forms over monitoring by ensuring employees stay on a video call all day are not representative of hybrid working’s future.
Boss-Employee Trust: Treat your Employees Fairly and Equally
It can be forgiven that there will be biases that arise in this new world of remote-first hybrid working. If you’re an old-school type of manager you may catch yourself treating your in-office employees with more care than your remote employees. The first step as always is acknowledging that there is a problem and there is a better way of doing things.
In an office environment, there will be more opportunities to engage with your employees naturally throughout the course of the day. These small engagements, while not recorded or planned can often be critical for making an employee feel valued in the workplace. Bumping into an employee after you just looked through some of their work can be a great time to give small feedback that will help them grow in their position as well as positive reinforcement to keep up the morale.
These casual conversations are harder to come by with remote employees since it will be impossible for you to physically bump into someone sitting miles away. However, it is certainly not an excuse for you as a manager to make an effort and keep up informal check-ups with employees - a simple message every now and then to check on their wellbeing can bring great returns though.
Short chats will be easier to set up in a virtual office like Wurkr, as opposed to virtual meeting software, as no scheduling is required. Moreover, being able to see a virtual representation of the office layout gives you a fantastic opportunity to see who is available for a casual 1-on-1.
Remote employees work just as hard
Have a clear guide on protocol
Having a clear protocol for Flexi-employment is absolutely 100% vital for hybrid working to be successful. For most people, remote-first employment will be a new experience and those employees may feel uncertain about their place in the company - who they should be working with and who to contact when they need support.
To ensure that employees who have switched to flexible working can trust the company, clear guidelines need to be in place to make their daily work lives easier - this is especially important for successful onboarding. Make it obvious that there will be no blockades to success and progression within the company for those contemplating a more flexible life.
Include Your Remote Employees in the Fun Stuff
Feeling isolated is many people's biggest concern before they switch to hybrid working and it is a valid fear. The casual social interaction day-to-day for many office workers very well may be the only time they talk to people for long periods of time. As a manager, it is your responsibility to ensure that employees have things to look forward to and are kept engaged in their work, and feel part of the team.
Just because people are in distributed teams and work from anywhere doesn’t mean that old school work socials can’t be adapted to this new hybrid work environment. There are many team-building activities you can do online that everyone can participate in. Normally go to the pub with your colleagues on a Friday, how about every other Friday rename one of your Wurkr rooms to your favourite pub and get boozy on a call with everyone.