How to Engage Employees in Hybrid Work Models

Hybrid working models are becoming increasingly popular for companies transitioning out of the conditions of the pandemic. With so many employees preferring to retain flexibility and work remotely, at least some of the time, many businesses are striving to find ways to make this ‘new normal’ work.

One of the key factors for success with hybrid working models is finding ways to keep remote workers feeling engaged, enthused, motivated, and satisfied with their job. The good news is that remote staff can feel just as enthused and motivated as in-office staff, but it takes the right management approach. 

Here are six ideas to create and maintain employee engagement within a hybrid working model:

1. Communicate clearly, regularly and authentically

These days, we can be instantly connected to people remotely in a variety of ways, such as via email, direct message, Zoom calls, online work platforms, and more. Of course, it is still typically easier to communicate regularly with someone sitting on a desk in your office. Nevertheless, in this age of hyper connectivity, it’s never been easier to touch base with someone regularly.

Some remote workers likely enjoy some solace more than the next employee, but they still need to feel included, considered, and connected to their team and management. 

To make up for the lack of in-person communication nuances, such as non-verbal body language cues, it’s vital that management communicate with remote workers in a clear and authentic way. This means taking the time to ensure that a rapport is built to foster positive communications at a distance is essential to making a hybrid model work. 

Ensure that you stay in regular contact even if it requires setting reminders or creating regular scheduled check-ins for any staff that you otherwise would not connect with regularly. It can help to create meaningful reasons for the contact, such as wellness checks, setting goals, giving feedback, and acknowledging achievements. 

2. Mix it up

While communication between remote workers and their regular teams and managers may be in-hand, it also pays to make sure that they feel connected to company staff in a broader way. Organizing group chats between teams and departments can help, as well as encouraging staff with similar interests to participate in social group discussions. Other ideas include:

  • Weekly video calls (potentially to include a compulsory video-on rule to foster greater connection between participants)
  • Arranging conferences between different teams to include an ‘Ask Me Anything’ segment – this can help to create new connections and collaborations while assisting everyone in better understand the inner workings of each department

3. Include remote staff in all employee perks

One sure-fire way to make a remote employee feel excluded is to leave them out of the company perks. It may not always be possible to include remote workers in all office-based events, but it’s important to consider how to do it wherever possible. Even if you have to create unique ways to keep them involved, such as conferencing them in on an office ‘happy hour,’ they will surely appreciate the inclusion and feel more engaged in general.

Of course, you can (and should) always seek to include them in out-of-hours business events, but wherever possible, think outside the box and ensure they never feel unnecessarily excluded. For example, if you are treating your employees to a lunch, send your remote workers a voucher for some uber eats.

4. Develop an inclusive employee culture

It is imperative that your in-office employees also adopt an inclusive approach to your remote workers, and the best way to do that is to create an inclusive culture across the board. Additionally, ensure that your remote staff have all the same access to support, training materials and all other resources. 

A remote worker may overlook difficulties in accessing resources once or twice, but before long, they will come to resent feeling excluded, which will inevitably result in disengagement. 

So, ensure that all departments and teams foster an inclusive attitude to all employees whether in-person or remote, and check in regularly to ensure that remote workers are not coming up against any barriers within the company; asking them directly can be the best way to establish just how inclusive your employee culture is. 

5. Centralize platforms and set shared goals

A lack of organization leads to a lack of productivity, eventually resulting in frustration and disengagement.

When managing a hybrid work model, it’s imperative that your remote workers can access information and collaborate with in-office staff in the simplest and most effective way. Centralized platforms that are easy to access assist all employees to share data, goals, project updates, and more – all in real time. 

In addition to improving productivity and efficiency, creating a platform upon which staff can share their goals, challenges and triumphs encourages accountability, team work, and a supportive, inclusive culture. Cross-company goals can also be included to help keep the broader body of staff connected and working towards common objectives. 

6. Include remote workers in all company opportunities

It can feel extremely discouraging for a remote worker to feel that they have missed out on career opportunities because they were not physically present. Therefore, whenever handling promotions, upskilling, and project lead opportunities, be sure to include all remote workers fairly. All staff deserve the same opportunities regardless of their remote working status.

Final thoughts

Hybrid working models can create a dynamic company culture that has everyone feeling professionally motivated and fulfilled, but it does take some careful management. When leading a team that includes remote workers, managers must work diligently to ensure that those staff continue to feel included and valued to keep them engaged. 

This blog was shared directly with Workplace Fairness by an anonymous contributor. Published with permission.

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Madeline Messa

Madeline Messa is a 3L at Syracuse University College of Law. She graduated from Penn State with a degree in journalism. With her legal research and writing for Workplace Fairness, she strives to equip people with the information they need to be their own best advocate.