Hybrid work has become one of the most sought after work models for companies around the globe. A new McKinsey survey shows that 9 out of 10 organisations are planning on combining remote work with in-office days in the future.
But while this result shows that businesses are adapting to the new state of work, it doesn’t mean they are succeeding in it. In fact, the majority of companies that are interested in hybrid work do not actually have a plan of how to implement their new approach.
This can cause a lot of confusion, and worst case, a toxic work environment in which employees are left wondering about their rights and responsibilities. Here are 5 signs that your hybrid company is turning into a toxic workplace.
1. No one is leading by example
If you are changing your work culture from purely in-office to a hybrid model, it is crucial to lead by example. This means having senior workers and employees on management and leadership levels adapting to your new setup and working remotely as well.
If leaders choose to stay in the office full time, this might send mixed messages to the rest of your workforce: They might feel that even if they are technically allowed to spend some time working remotely, they are not expected to do so. Additionally, they might think the only way to further their career and advance in your company is by spending all their time in the office.
These misleading messages can quickly create a pretty toxic and competitive working environment, with people not using their new hybrid freedoms for fear of missing out on future opportunities.
2. Who you see is who you praise
Showing appreciation and sharing praise whenever fit are very important ways to keep your employees happy and motivated. But it is easy to forget about that when your worker is not physically in the office with you.
If you want to establish a healthy and balanced work environment for all your employees, you need to ensure that rewards are given to everyone, including remote workers. Your employees should never feel as if their value is directly related to the amount of time they spend in the office.
3. There is no plan for digital communication
While it is possible to strictly use emails as a form of communication, many successful hybrid work models are integrating other tools into their daily exchange with remote workers. These can be helpful in maintaining a more informal, social interaction throughout the day, as well as organise these conversations.
If you decide to introduce new communication channels to your hybrid setup, be sure to have some rules in place for how to use them. Important files might be better sent via email, while certain group channels should be kept to social exchange or collaborative brainstorming only. Make sure that everyone understands how to use these channels.
4. Information is not shared equally
Whether or not an employee is physically in the office shouldn’t determine the amount of information they are getting in regards to important projects and updates concerning their work. Make sure you are inviting everyone to meetings, no matter their working situation, and share updates of impromptu office conversations with them to keep everyone in the loop of what’s happening.
Forgetting to share information or not inviting remote employees to meetings will not only hinder them from doing their job to the best of their abilities, but also create a second class worker atmosphere that has the potential to create a really toxic work environment.
5. Expectations are not clear
Finally, it is your responsibility to set clear boundaries and rules around your new hybrid work model. You can’t expect your employees to simply guess what they are supposed to do and how to behave if you haven’t communicated any rules beforehand.
What are the expected response times for emails or other communication channels when someone is working remotely? How many days a week are they allowed to work from home? Are they expected to stay within your time zone or are they free to travel and work from wherever they choose? And are there any meetings or other responsibilities that require them to be in the office?
These and more questions need to be addressed and answered before you send your workforce off to explore your new hybrid model. Otherwise, you might end up with a lot of confusion, and employees who are more focused on finding out what they can and cannot do, than being a productive and supportive part of your workforce.