Many people returning to the workplace this summer will do so on a mixed schedule, where they will go to the office part of the week and spend the rest of the time at home. However, just because your company discovered full-time remote work in 2020 does not mean that the transition to a hybrid model is easy.
Gallup’s chief workplace scientist Jim Hart told CNBC Make It that as long as employees work with their managers and include the following three elements in their remote work plan, “flexible time can work well.”
1. Clear expectations
There are countless ways to break the 40-hour work week, so in fact the first thing to do is to work with your manager to set your expectations when you are in the office and when you log in remotely. Will you be staying home for three consecutive days at the office, at home on weekends, or working from anywhere on a weekday? Or, you may need longer face-to-face brainstorming sessions, so you choose to work in the office for three weeks and the last week of the month is spent virtually.
In any case, it’s time to specify when and where you will be and what parts of the job you will be handling anywhere.
Harter added that in addition to the logistics of setting a schedule, you should also be involved in setting your own goals and then discussing with your manager how to achieve and measure these goals. Basically, if you know what is expected of you and meet those expectations, you can show that remote work can help (rather than hinder) your progress in the company.
2. Important people
Harter said that the pandemic shows how important managers are in maintaining a healthy and resilient workforce. Many people first evaluate the performance of employees at home, and they have the right to adjust expectations and even propose policy changes to senior leaders to support employees.
Therefore, through the new hybrid approach, he recommends that people take time at least once a week to have a meaningful conversation with their manager. Harter said that
frequent contacts will help your manager better understand your strengths, areas for improvement, and assess whether your priorities are in line with the team’s goals.
He added that these discussions should also go beyond the superficial level of how you complete work tasks, because a part of your personal life will inevitably affect your performance on the watch. For example, maybe you are a parent who needs to work unconventional hours to adjust to a changing school or child care program.
As Hart said, “Managers can better understand the living conditions of employees and adjust their work to suit them.”
If you don’t go to the same place to report and present your work in person, then measuring accountability can be more difficult.
But in the final analysis, whether you’re in person or remotely, you have business goals to meet, and there should be a way to record and measure those goals. To this end, Harter said you need to make sure you’re building accountability to yourself (for example, by setting quarterly or annual goals), to your team (for example, meeting deadlines), and to your clients (for example, by collection and evaluation of external feedback).
If any of your goals aren’t met, you and your manager should have an adjustment plan in place, too, Hart said, whether it’s to re-examine your remote work schedule or whatever.
On the other hand, Harter added, managers should also be held accountable for helping their employees succeed, such as ensuring remote employees have access to training, development and promotion in the organization.