Strategies for Supporting the Remote and Hybrid Employee Experience
Organizations have largely arrived at the realization that many jobs can be successfully performed remotely. But how we manage and support these workers is more important than ever — especially when we consider that most global organizations don’t have a one-size-fits-all approach. Despite the headline-making layoffs we’ve seen this year, we remain in an incredibly competitive labor market, where attracting and retaining critical talent is as important as ever.
Current corporate work arrangements are governed by differing leadership styles, proximity to physical workspaces, and the simple fact that many roles require employees to be in a unique physical location – a hospital or a factory production line, for example. This creates an imbalanced employee experience. While this imbalance is in some cases justified, it nevertheless needs to be addressed thoughtfully to support a positive and engaging experience for all employees — regardless of whether they are fully remote, exclusively on-site, or hybrid.
Companies that are well-positioned to navigate the future of work are deliberate about how they address each of the following factors impacting remote and hybrid workers.
Eliminate the Face-time Bias
Employees in the same job family may experience considerable variability in where and how they perform their work — with some opting to exclusively work from home, while others choose or are ordered to spend more time on site.
As these differences in where work gets done continue to evolve, organizations have begun to see a clear bias emerge. Those who are on site more often, in most cases 4-5 days per week, are more likely to receive higher performance ratings when compared to their peers who spend less time in a physical work location.
While it may be tempting to believe that employees who are spending more time at their workplace are better positioned to perform at a higher level, it is also worth considering that their “face time” or direct exposure to leaders perpetuates a bias that those who are physically present more often are outperforming those who are not. In fact, Perceptyx research indicates that managers are five times as likely to believe that remote employees are less productive than their on-site peers.
This puts remote employees at a disadvantage and may limit their future prospects within an organization. It, therefore, becomes increasingly vital for companies to set clearly-defined goals and metrics that bring objectivity and rigor back to performance management.
Refocus on Employee Growth and Career Development
The consequence of managers struggling to measure the performance of remote or hybrid employees directly impacts the employee's future prospects with their organization. In fact, Perceptyx research indicates that 2 out of 3 managers believe that remote or hybrid employees have fewer opportunities for career growth and development when compared to their peers who are more often on-site. Not surprisingly, these managers also cited that they are far less likely to spend the same amount of time connecting with employees they see less often. Leaders need to ensure that managers are supporting their teams equally and are carving out the same amount of time to develop and support those who are not physically present.
Relationships Are (Still) Important
One of the challenges of managing a remote workforce remains the impact that it has on building interpersonal relationships. Employees and leaders alike often cite the difficulty in building connections, collaborating, and executing from afar. Organizations that do this well are supporting managers to work with their teams in a way that feels natural. This means providing them the flexibility needed to complete work on their own terms and the autonomy to self-manage their schedules. It also means that managers need to be more deliberate in setting regular team and individual meetings in an effort to problem solve in real-time and to proactively address obstacles as they appear.
Limit Corporate Mandates
Employees work best in the setting that is uniquely right for them. While there is certainly value in getting people together in a centralized location, employees often report resentment at mandates or other corporate policies that force them into their workplace for a set number of days per week. This resentment often increases in parallel to the number of days in which they are required to be present.
Organizations need to be mindful of how policies intended to bring people together could potentially backfire — especially if they are viewed as overly restrictive or running contrary to employees’ preferred work habits. They also need to be transparent about the differences in roles and clearly state why policies may differ and what is being done to further accommodate employees in key roles like retail sales, distribution, and manufacturing that cannot be done remotely, unlike many corporate-office positions. Doing so will help to build a greater sense of fairness and cohesion across an organization.
Rein in Overzealous Managers
The role that people leaders play in shaping these policies is equally important. Some organizations have deferred the decisions of whether to require employees to show up at work to their direct managers. While this may sound like a good idea on the surface, it is bound to create inconsistent and unfair experiences for employees — especially when we consider that managers may opt to impose their own desired work habits on their teams.
Organizations must ensure the fair and consistent implementation of remote and hybrid work policies. Listening technology, such as Perceptyx's Cultivate Intelligent Coaching, can play a vital role in this process by providing valuable feedback to managers about the positivity, negativity, and regularity of their email and chat communications with employees. This AI-powered solution can help managers identify unconscious behaviors that might be unfair to certain team members, ensuring that policies, support, and recognition for the right behaviors are applied appropriately. Objective feedback like this can be crucial in guaranteeing that remote and hybrid staff are managed impartially.
The Best Plan for Your Workforce is One Supported by Data
The future of work is more about what gets done and its impact on an organization than where and even how that work is completed. Organizations that are able to continue to invest, motivate, and reward their employees in a way that is both fair and flexible will be better positioned to attract and retain top talent in the years ahead.
By partnering with Perceptyx, you can build an employee listening and actioning strategy that captures the perceptions as well as the unique behaviors of your people and helps you to meet their needs wherever they choose to work. To learn more, speak to a member of our team or complete our free interactive listening maturity assessment.