Your Hybrid Work Management Guide
Operations | Sharon Emek, CIC, Ph.D. | Jan 6 2022
When companies were forced to adapt to remote-work models amid the pandemic-related lockdowns, there was a seismic shift for some industries, insurance in particular. For the most part, the insurance industry adapted well, as did many industries faced with the difficult choice between pivoting quickly or closing up shop. And for at least a year now, employees and employers have developed new ways to be productive and have established routines that work.
Welcome to the hybrid work environment. This new flexible way to work formed out of a need. Hybrid work has continued to take shape as companies and industries find their best foot forward in a remote-work model.
It’s an environment that employees are embracing. A Harvard Business School survey revealed that 81% of remote employees don’t want to go back to the office, or would prefer a hybrid work schedule. And people are doing more from home: 77% of employees report being more productive when working from home. Employers agree: 83% say remote work has been a successful shift for their companies, and one company even saw a 35% increase in employee productivity after introducing a flexible work program.
For companies that are willing to embrace the new workforce model, it calls for a reimagining of the office and its operations. Yet positive outcomes can be had only if companies face the challenges of how to attract, hire, onboard, and manage employees in these new hybrid work environments.
Yet challenges await. They include:
- Managing communication
- Maintaining company culture
- Scheduling meetings
- Building trust
- One-to-one meetings & morale
- Getting together in person
Still, none of these challenges are difficult to overcome. They simply require a new approach to your usual processes.
Remote Hiring Steps
The first step is to rethink how you hire. Your new hire needs to possess a slightly different set of skills than your in-house hire.
Look for soft skills: Remote workers who do best on the job are those who work with minimal supervision. Your best remote worker manages time effectively, and can solve common issues and some complex challenges independently.
Identify self-starters. How much training will your new hire need? Every organization has a unique set of processes, and new employees need to learn them. However, in a remote position, that means your new hire needs to be able to train on their own with minimal supervision.
Discover how they best learn. Ask candidates what works best for them: in-class instruction or independent, self-paced learning. Have they completed any self-guided learning before? What were the results? How easily can they get used to new systems or technology? What challenges them most about technology?
Look beyond current boundaries. It could be your best employee lives on the other side of the country. With remote hiring, you can eliminate the need for candidates to be local, opening up your search and giving you a broader pool of candidates.
Bring Them Onboard
Yet even with a more focused hiring process, your new employee could have a rough time without proper onboarding. A recent Glassdoor study found that a strong onboarding process can improve new hire retention by 82% and productivity by a surprising 70%. A Kronos study also found that 77% of employees who had a formal onboarding process hit their performance goals.
To improve your onboarding process, we recommend paying attention to these areas:
- Clarify the role: What does success look like for your new hire in this role? Build the picture for your employee. Show them how their role fits within the larger corporate picture. Create benchmarks to actively measure progress.
- Deliver training: Training videos can get your employee up and running quickly. It’s also a great time to introduce the employee to the company culture, as well as provide home-office setup advice and team welcome messages. State training benchmarks clearly, including what is being measured. Allow them to remotely shadow an employee.
- Connect to culture: Shadowing is a great way to infuse your new hire in the company culture. So is creating regular, open communication among all employees. Weekly team meetings, daily check-ins with managers, and time spent networking with other employees can build that sense of connection to the company, that feeling of being part of a team.
- Celebrate often: Incorporate fun into your new hire experience. Celebrate birthdays, milestones, and team successes with virtual parties. Hold happy hours, group lunches, and social gatherings so your new hire has a chance to bond with coworkers and management.
Setting the Right Tone
Interestingly, the process for managing your remote employees borrows from your remote onboarding process. In each step of your onboarding, you will be emphasizing communication. The same criteria applies to managing employees from a distance.
Managing remote employees takes three key steps:
Provide more overall work flexibility: Move the focus away from where and even when work is done, and shift to a performance-based measurement. If your employee meets goals, that is a much more successful measure than whether they clocked in for eight hours during the day.
Connect with frequent one-on-ones: Make some type of connection with each employee every day. Reach out daily and make sure employees are doing well. Keep email, chat, phone, and video conferencing open, and encourage all employees to reach out when needed, as well. Each week, schedule one-on-one conversations with each employee to go over performance, workload, outside issues (such as finances or family), and get a sense for what your employee needs from you.
Use technology to offset isolation: Meetings should be video meetings – seeing and connecting with colleagues is an integral part of building a successful team. It’s also a great time to recognize employees for their successes or for meeting benchmarks.
Different conference tools such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams can connect your teams and keep the communication flowing. It can also be used to hold virtual happy hours, celebrate milestones, and have group chats to reinforce the company culture.
Building a New Road Forward
Whether your organization is considering a permanent move to remote work or is offering some hybrid work model, creating the right processes to hire and onboard your new employees is critical to their success and productivity. Pay attention to the type of person you are hiring; a simple tweak of your hiring process can increase retention and employee success. By reimagining your hiring process, your agency can attract and retain right-fit talent.
Building a remote onboarding process can help you keep that talent. Pay attention to how your new hire best works and learns. Also, make sure they are connecting with team members frequently, and with your company culture. Setting an onboarding timeframe can ensure your new hire has plenty of training and time to grasp job duties and build relationships with managers and colleagues.
Setting your remote business on the right path at hiring time gives your organization a hidden benefit, as well. No matter what the future holds, your investment in remote hiring and onboarding gives your business the flexibility to adapt and thrive, which attracts the top talent.
Tags: Insurance , workplace culture , COVID-19 , Remote Working , Tips , People Management , Hybrid