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At first, the new wave of remote workers, thrown out of the office by the global pandemic, had much excitement about leaving traditional office structures behind them.

That said, it didn’t take long for the rose-coloured glasses to come off. Many remote professionals are seeing how working remotely can:

  • Disrupt work-life balance
  • Deteriorate once strong company culture
  • Leave workers feeling isolated

For this reason, if you’re an HR professional or executive, you’re likely considering moving your team away from fully remote work in favor of a hybrid setup.

While hybrid work boasts big potential, it’s not foolproof. There are many potential pitfalls to avoid. Hybrid work mistakes can seriously disrupt productivity and create a tense, unpleasant atmosphere.

Here are nine potential hybrid work pitfalls that team leaders should aim to avoid.

What are the 9 hybrid work mistakes?

The common hybrid work pitfalls all share a common thread – lacking flexibility.

9 Epic Hybrid Work Mistakes infographic

To create hybrid work models that are sustainable, you have to be willing to:

  • Compromise
  • Adapt
  • Sacrifice

From a leadership standpoint, sometimes this means letting go of your own comfort in the name of progress. Start creating a sustainable, growth-ready hybrid work environment by avoiding these errors.

#1 Not having a people-first approach

Feedback isn’t just for HR to hand out when workers make mistakes. You also need to be receptive to your team’s experience. Are you actively listening to what employees want and need? If their comments are going in one ear and out the other, it’s going to show.

hybrid work for dummies banner 3

 

Want to demonstrate that you’re receptive?

  • Observe the popularity of new policies
  • Be honest with yourself about if they’re truly boosting productivity
  • Determine if they’re fuelling or draining employee engagement

It is important to allow new policies to find their footing. You aren’t the only business owner that will have to tinker around with trial and error.

On the other hand, if the workers who are directly engaging with new systems express concerns, it might work in your favor to listen. Holding out in the name of proving yourself right is a sure way to demonstrate that you value your ego over worker experience.

#2 Preserving outdated processes

The labor market is tighter than ever. Companies have much less leverage than they once did. Going about business as usual (with pre-pandemic processes especially) is a lethal path for businesses looking to stay relevant.

hybrid work mistakes - keeping outdated processes

After all, hybrid work draws in workers because, well… it’s supposed to preserve some of the “freedoms” that make working remotely appealing. Based on this recent study, the balance offered by hybrid work arrangements appears to have promising potential.

When the standard office setup took the back seat in favour of remote work, many employees created their own systems for staying productive amid the flexibility to experiment with how they complete tasks best.

The takeaway?

  • Don’t solely prioritize a team leader’s preference for older systems
  • Trust workers to continue managing their time
  • Maintaining flexibility allows all staff the room to thrive.

The “one size fits all” structures many companies implemented prior to working remotely often do more to perpetuate the illusion of productivity than to truly optimize output. That said, there does also need to be some oversight. Finding ways to implement that while also promoting a fair, productive environment requires a skilled management team and using the right hybrid work KPIs.

#3 Not Having Clearly Defined Hybrid Work Policies

Clearly, forcing employees to return to outdated structures is a hybrid work mistake best avoided. However, hybrid work models do require structure.

Without it, you lose the balance that differentiates a hybrid model from fully remote work – along with all of its perks that promote thriving company culture.

hybrid work policies

It’s important to manage employee expectations, especially since a hybrid work strategy allows for so much customization. What implementing a hybrid work model means for one business could be entirely different from what it means to another.

Clearly defined hybrid work policies allow for a win-win. You get to tailor your ground rules to your organization’s needs while simultaneously attracting hybrid workers that resonate with what that means for your company.

A good hybrid work policy should:

  • Clearly state expectations surrounding physical presence for in-person meetings
  • Discuss any limits or restrictions on the days and times employees can work remotely
  • Include insight into how office space functions within the hybrid model

Having your entire team on the same page plays a critical part in lessening the potential pitfalls of hybrid models. On the days when a team member chooses to commute rather than work remotely, they should know the lay of the land – which areas are meant for casual banter, shared project brainstorming, or quietly focusing.

#4 Using too many work management tools

Company leaders are often on the receiving end of a lot of task management chatter. With the influx of options marketed towards increasing employee productivity, you might find yourself tempted to train your staff to utilize all sorts of work management tools.

There are a few points to consider:

  • Focus on using app-less tools that work with the apps employees already use
  • This reduces unnecessary training costs while also preventing app-bloat
  • It mitigates the frustrations of colleagues being tasked with yet another app to deal with

There are some truly innovative options out there, but overdoing it may actually overwhelm your equipment and your team members – creating new challenges that aren’t necessary.

#5 Having many manual processes instead of using AI and automation

If you aren’t taking advantage of opportunities to automate – you and your team are missing out. While it’s not a replacement for human staff members, leveraging AI-based assistants can support the success of your workers.

hybrid work automation

There’s always some inevitable busy work kicking around. Whether managers assign it to someone in person or working from home makes little difference in terms of the time that it wastes.

Reducing your manual processes with AI can:

  • Allow employees to spend time on more challenging, rewarding tasks
  • Give suggestions for better quality during creative blocks
  • Improve productivity metrics

Having purposeful work is a big part of a satisfying career. Employers who actively provide opportunities to automate the “little things” demonstrate that their employee’s work and energy are truly valued.

#6 Using the wrong software (or not using software at all)

We’ve touched on how important remote work policies are as part of any hybrid work model. With that said, enforcing them is an entirely different beast. Many leaders find themselves overwhelmed with the level of communication involved in encouraging compliance

While hybrid offices offer workers greater flexibility from an executive level, this comes with much more to keep track of.

For example, in a fully remote or in-person approach to team meetings, there’s less to monitor. With a hybrid approach that allows for a certain number of in-person meetings to be “skipped” in favor of attending digitally, you’re not only monitoring attendance but the type of attendance.

These days, organizations luckily have modern software to help acclimate to this shift in how managers are expected to operate. However, it has to have the right features to be worthwhile.

You might want to look out for the following as a minimum:

  • Desk booking – This is critical if you want to size down from a larger workplace after reducing your daily in-person staff. It enables your workers to take the lead in reserving a spot for themselves at a desk with minimum hassle, enabling you to save time while spending less on unnecessary square footage.
  • Visual floor plan – If you want to have an accurate digital representation of your company’s physical workspace, a floor plan feature is a must. Typically, this type of feature enables employers to digitally designate specific locations throughout a space for various tasks. It also serves as a visual aid, assisting people with navigating during times when the use of an area switches up.
  • Meeting room booking- If your business regularly splits into teams to talk over projects or discuss other work matters, enabling colleagues to block off a meeting space keeps the process efficient.

#7 Fixed floorplans

Prior to the global pandemic, most traditional office buildings were fixed in how they utilized their floor plans. Outside of the co-working spaces predominantly occupied by freelancers at the time- “flex space” wasn’t a term that popped up often.

As a result, many office spaces were decked out with bulky furniture and clunky, difficult-to-dismantle fixtures. This type of setup limits success in all sorts of areas pertaining to collaborative communication among employees, executive-level planning, and more.

These days, many people are experiencing the perks of being flexible with workplace layouts.

It’s important to have space for things like:

  • Unexpected employment surges
  • The need for larger team collaborations
  • Pop-up training and conferences
  • Office neighborhoods

Depending on your industry, catering to flexibility with your floor plan allows for other setups that fit the work at hand. Managers should aim to be mindful not only of what they’re using the floor plan for but how they’re furnishing the space – If an item serves multiple functions, all the better!

Watch the video below that shows LinkedIn’s new hybrid office with more than 75 seating types:

#8 Not working on making the office feel like home

Employers can sometimes find themselves getting so wrapped up in the logistics of company growth that they fail to let the bones of their businesses shine.

hybrid office

Whether you’re trying to make a good impression on an investor or looking to use your office as an example, giving a glimpse of company culture to future employees, aesthetics matter.

  • Comfortable employees are productive employees
  • An office that offers some of the amenities of home may boost morale
  • Making an effort to create a nice atmosphere might reduce turnover

Something as simple as finding a spot for a designated common area and stocking it with basic refreshments, comfortable furniture, and some plants could benefit an otherwise uninviting spot.

#9 Not staying agile

If you want to lead your organization to growth and, in turn, cultivate career advancement opportunities for your workers, this mistake could cost you tremendously. To put it simply, behaving rigidly is an express ticket to stagnancy.

Your hybrid work model will need to stay agile to remain competitive. Many things that most employers would not have expected to accommodate years ago now routinely come up in interview communication.

Don’t think of the model as set and done but as a work in progress subject to continual improvements.

FAQ

What are the disadvantages of hybrid working?

The disadvantages of hybrid working can be reduced with good management. However, there are some that are unavoidable. Hybrid working can sometimes be overwhelming for workers. It can take trial and error for employees to adapt to new layouts and flows. It can also take time for those in leadership positions to work out hiccups with new software, etc.

What are the warning signs of a toxic hybrid workplace?

Favoritism is a common warning sign. If it occurs and coincides with whether or not a worker is mostly remote vs. showing up in person, it could potentially be a toxic environment.

Disorganization that stands in the way of completing work is another red flag. Hybrid employers typically aim to offer flexibility, but a complete lack of structure that leads to frustration can be problematic.

What are the pros and cons of hybrid working?

The pros and cons of hybrid working vary depending on factors such as management style, the type of industry, and overall workplace culture. It also depends on the employee and how they’re best able to focus. While some individuals love getting feedback from their work buddies in real-time, others require silence and may prefer a fully remote setup.

How effective is hybrid working?

Healthy hybrid working models provide opportunities for employees to work in various environments. Some professionals work better in different atmospheres than others. Although it’s not for everyone, many really enjoy what they’re able to achieve in hybrid settings because of the flexibility.

What is a hybrid working etiquette?

Hybrid working etiquette is essential for maintaining a healthy, balanced professional environment. It extends beyond basic policy and into the “little things” that you do as a leader to keep things flowing smoothly. For example, creating systems for your workers to clearly provide feedback about how your policies affect them. Another example is ensuring that those participating in meetings remotely aren’t missing out on important details that might be discussed after the “official” meeting is over. We discuss more on the topic in our article on the 5 simple etiquette rules for hot desking.

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