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Get Ready for the Hybrid Work Environment

The pandemic demonstrated that many organizations can work remotely if need be, but it may not be the best long-term solution. The question becomes: once we return to a world with limited or no restrictions, how does that change the workplace and how you manage it?

This is a huge topic - I'll address some of the issues here - but the key takeaway is that as a manager, you have to start thinking about this now and developing your skills to ensure you, your team, and the company thrive as things return to normal (which most likely will be a different normal than before March 2020).

Here are some questions to start thinking about:

  • How will your workplace look in the future? Will it be all face-to-face, all remote, or some hybrid? Many companies will make it a hybrid of some sort. Even some places where we don't traditionally think of a hybrid environment will start to move towards it. For example, working at a McDonald's retail location doesn't seem like a fit for hybrid (you can't serve a Big Mac from your home office). However, could some training (both onboarding and ongoing training) be done remotely? It may not be a health risk to bring someone in, but is it a necessity?

  • Based on how it could look, what new skills will you need as a manager? I can envision two major skills that managers will have to learn: evaluating what can be done remotely vs in-person to maximize productivity and effectiveness; and will I manage in-person, remote, or hybrid teams differently? When it comes to employee training, we've been looking at this hybrid model for years and still haven't necessarily found the answer.

  • How can I start to test different methods NOW, so that the future doesn't sneak up on me? Managers, for good reason, tend to have a fire-fighting mode - Focus on the urgent thing right in front of you. However, that means you can't think big and complex. These changes could be big and complex. Start to talk to your team now about how we can work, how we will measure productivity, etc. If you wait until the pandemic is over, you'll be too far behind.

Those are some of the big issues in my mind - what other areas do you think a manager will need to change as the workforce changes?

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