How to Keep Employees Engaged and Productive in a Hybrid World

Before COVID, remote office work was usually reserved for freelancers or those whose work-flexibility needs — such as parenting young children — were addressed on a case-by-case basis. But the rest of the rank-and-file punched in, swiped a security card, or just stepped through a doorway to begin their workday.

The pandemic changed all that. Companies executed their disaster recovery procedures or simply improvised as they allowed their employees to work from home — and it was almost exclusively home, because coffee shops initially suspended in-store service — while tracking infection rates and state and local directives.

By 2022, many employers reopened their literal doors, but some maintained a hybrid or fully remote environment. While these moves pleased many employees who became accustomed to working in their pajamas — the occasional video conference call notwithstanding — employers feared a drop in engagement and productivity.

Fortunately, there are several measures you can take to maintain not just a work/life balance for your employees, but also a life/work balance for your business.

Set Expectations

From the CEO on down, establish clear guidelines about what “work from home” means. Some companies enforce a strict 9-to-5 schedule, while others are more accommodating in an “as long as you get your work done” kind of way. Many companies — and employees — prefer the latter, as long as that policy isn’t abused. Productivity and project management tools can help enforce accountability.

You might also want to develop rules for meetings — such as a corporate casual dress code and cameras on, whenever possible — to maintain professionalism.

Communicate and Collaborate

If your organization is so large that it’s impossible for any employee to see every other employee each day, then you likely already have communication strategies designed to keep everyone in the know.

At-home workers can’t assemble in a conference room, swing by each other’s cubicles, or pop into their manager’s office for even a quick chat, so make sure they’re equipped with tools for video meetings as well as instant messaging, to keep the ball moving.

Check the Pulse

Working from home can seem like fun — pajamas, remember? — but can also make some employees feel isolated or disconnected. The line between “home” and “work” often blurs, causing some employees to overwork and eventually experience burnout. Have team leaders keep track of their direct reports beyond whether they’re completing their projects on time.

Company-wide, encourage employees to take breaks, manage their mental and physical health, and use any available resources you offer to maintain balance and resilience. Setting aside a budget, no matter how small, for an offsite event or bonding activity is a great way to boost morale and engagement.

Keep the Culture Cooking

Extend the corporate culture beyond the office. Recognize company achievements, plan virtual celebrations, and find ways to improve the employee experience so their “office away from the office” feels as much like the ideal office feels like a “home away from home.”

Most Importantly, Keep Your People Connected and Your Assets Secure

None of the above will matter to your workers if their home hardware is outdated, or if they have trouble logging into the network, or if the VPN is sluggish. Worse, you don’t want your at-home employees being too hospitable regarding your company’s data.

In the past your IT team might have managed workers going home with their laptops, but your hybrid paradigm now has as many one-person satellite offices as you have employees, each with its own set of networking and infrastructure requirements.

Wrapping Up

Obviously, a positive workplace culture hinges on providing your team with the best technology they need to do their job effectively. To learn more about fiber, voice and internet solutions that drive success, contact Astound.