Let’s face it managing others is a tough business. Think just how easy supervisors had it when leading subordinates in a traditional in office environment?
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If a project was at risk for missing a deadline; in your face. If stand alone or multi-step tasks were not completed with the highest quality; in your face. If budgets were threatened to be over run, once again; in your face.
Those days may be long gone. I/O psychologists, human resources professionals and business leaders have recognized the obstacles managers face when managing staff and teams that are remote, hybrid and mixed location (managers who juggle the supervision of various combinations of in office, hybrid and remote workers simultaneously).
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In a perfect world, ideal scenario supervisors manage 100% in person staff or 100% remote staff who tele-work. But, as we know; we aren’t in utopia. We’ve got to make do with what we have, play with the cards we’ve been dealt.
To address these modern workplace challenges of remote team, hybrid and mixed location management , the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) surveyed almost 700 business leaders, post pandemic. When queried about the difficulties managing tele-workers, remote workers and employees working from home when compared against onsite workers; the following information was revealed.
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Remote management difficult for mixed location managers
- 43% expressed difficulty managing tele-workers when most of their employees worked in a traditional in office setting. This compares to:
- 20% who expressed difficulties managing remote workers (when a majority of their staff tele-worked);
- 48% replied that they were spending more time supervising remote workers when most of their employees returned to an in office setting. This compares to:
- 26% who indicated that they spent more time supervising tele-workers (when most of their employees worked remotely).
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Return to office employers hold these attitudes
- 44% of employers with majority in office staff can fail to remember tele-workers when assigning tasks and delegating responsibilities. This compares to:
- 14% of who forget remote workers when assigning tasks (when 100% of the staff WFH).
- 60% of companies remain resolute in having a preference for all of their of their subordinates to report to the office. This compares to:
- 20% express preference for full in office staffing (when 100% of employees tele-commute).
- 48% of employers with majority in office staff report opinions that working from home full-time remote work hinders employees’ career. This compares to:
- 15% hold same negative beliefs about lack of career advancement (when 100% of employees work from home).
Remote, Hybrid and Mixed Location Tips from MIT Sloan Business School
To work around many of the constraints presented when managing remote, hybrid and mixed location employees and team members, the researchers at MIT Sloan Business School offered a few suggestions that we’ve tailored just for you:
- Emphasize outcomes not output. Not sure of the difference? The University of Madison offers this definition, outputs focus on the process undetaken to help achieve outcomes. On the other hand, outcomes are results oriented.
- Discern when individual vs team work is best. Not all tasks are best suited for team work. Astute managers will discern when tasks are better suited for individual completion and plan accordingly, and vice versa. MIT provides helpful pointers. Projects and routine tasks with ready-made metrics and performance indicators are perfect for assigning to individuals. Conversely, those requiring design, creativity, inventiveness, and innovation are best suited when collaborative team-based interaction is utilized.
- Refrain from scheduling meetings just to schedule meetings. Zoom and video conferencing fatigue is very real. Constant communication via MS Teams can be draining. If meetings are a must, ensure that frequent breaks are alotted to allow for members to re-group, re-charge and get refreshed.
- Utilize multi-modal means of communication. Sure digital communication is here to stay. But that doesn’t mean that we forget to utilize all methods and platforms for communication at our disposal. This means phone, in person, retreat, happy hours, special events, conferences. Until AI is fully functional, this society remains human-driven and human focused. So, it is vital to engage all senses for effective workplace communication. The Neural Basis of Multisensory Processes, article appearing in the National Institute of Health demonstrates research showing that the exchange of information occurs most successfully when involving multisensory processing, even when the human brain receives just one “unimodal” input. When managers rely solely upon voice or visuals; one can not be 100% sure that employees fully comprehend what was intended to be conveyed.
- Schedule frequent one-on-one checkins. What better way to make sure remote employees are remembered? How might managers of mixed location teams remain connected with staff disbursed throughout the globe? Scheduling frequent one-on-one checkins represent the optimal solution for establishing connections, remaining in contact, gauging workplace attitudes and perceptions, and mentoring for career advancement.