By Susan Stick ,Evernote’s SVP of People and General Counsel
The world of work has changed dramatically because of the impact of Covid-19. Many team members that were previously based in the same office for the full working week are now separated by geography and time. The shift to home working has seen many organisations offer more flexible working hours to recognise the context of home remote workers. In fact at Evernote, we launched a Work from Almost Anywhere program that has led to our “Remote” office going from our smallest ‘office’ to our 4th largest presence, and this number will likely continue to grow, as 42 percent of our U.S. hires in 2021 have been remote.
We believe this helps remote workers cope with the specific challenges they face, such as trying to juggle everything ranging from peak, noisy times in co-working spaces to looking after children at home.
The new model of hybrid working has seen individuals, teams and organisations work part of their time at the workplace and part remotely.
The benefits of hybrid working include greater flexibility for staff members in their work/life balance and less time or money spent commuting. However, there are also potential challenges for business leaders when managing hybrid working, including how to ensure fairness, inclusion, collaboration, and high levels of productivity. Here are some practical steps to follow to ensure hybrid working is a success for your business.
Treat everyone the same
Hybrid workers should be treated exactly the same as their colleagues who may spend more time in the office. To do this, offer a hybrid arrangement to everyone on your team and consider each team member’s unique circumstances and the challenges they may face. For example, access to various resources may differ. Ensure that you offer hybrid workers extra IT support and resources to work effectively.
It’s also important to promote an inclusive and collaborative culture. Research has found that nearly eight out of ten workers think collaboration between remote workers and their in-office colleagues is a tough task. One of the main issues cited for remote workers is communicating effectively with office-based employees. This means you should think carefully about the best apps and software available to make collaboration easier and bring people together.
Hire (and recruit) for the new way of working
Recruiting a virtual team requires a different approach. You need to make sure you are adapting to new technologies and getting creative in the way you connect and recruit people around the world.
It could be as simple as making changes to your interview process to structure how people interview candidates and what they look for, like checking for verbal articulation skills and listening skills.
Depending on the job, other skills to look for in remote workers include: self-management skills (good time management, good energy management); above-average self-motivation; and excellent written and oral communication skills, including excellent listening skills.
Pick the right communication channels and continue to communicate
You and your team need to choose the right communication channel for the right situation. But virtual teams don’t always pick the best channel for the communication in hand, which can create a breakdown in process and productivity. So, as a team you should agree which communications should happen, via which channel. This will help to build cooperation, meet deadlines, and create the trust that’s vital for your business to succeed.
In addition, every communication should be clear about WHO, does WHAT, by WHEN. When you have this clarity, sharing team information and meeting commitments will be much simpler and easier and productivity should increase as well.
Focus on the employees
As I said before, the world of work has changed dramatically because of the ongoing pandemic situation. Companies should make sure they offer a safe and inclusive workplace where its employees have the support they need to be successful, including emphasizing the health and welfare of their employees.
At Evernote, we have a team that focuses on the “future of work,” pertaining to working models (hybrid, remote, etc), physical space, and benefits. Along with many other standard benefits, we’ve expanded our wellness programs to offer a Wellness Reimbursement program, where employees can spend a certain amount on their own health and wellness. We have also introduced Wellness Weekends, where the entire company enjoys a 3- or 4-day weekend, to rest and recharge, and added mental health benefits such as coaches and therapists for our employees and their families.
To retain good employees, it’s key to remind them that you are invested in their professional and private wellbeing.
Ultimately, making some small but significant changes to the way your business’ team works can boost productivity and allow your business to get the most out of hybrid working.
Susan Stick is Senior Vice President of People and General Counsel at Evernote. She is tasked with empowering Evernote’s more than 250 million customers to stay in control of their lives, at work and at home.