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11 Jun 2021

Six ways to accelerate employee engagement in a hybrid work culture

Shattering the paradigm of traditional 9-to-5 work at the office, the pandemic has upended the world of work. More employees are working from home or remotely now than ever before. This led organisations across the globe to adopt flexible work from home practices with remote and distributed teams. With the dawn of the hybrid workforce, employers faced the challenge of addressing employee engagement, diversity and inclusion.




This strain on maintaining cohesion, upholding company culture, and managing increased silos reinforces the need for innovation. While a hybrid work culture can be a springboard for future growth, the ultimate challenge lies in reimagining employee engagement strategies for delivering innovation. To do so, organisations must understand, design and optimise employee engagement strategies to not just enable but empower hybrid and remote work teams. 

To that end, in this article, we take a closer look at the meaning and the innovative ways by which a hybrid organisation can boost employee engagement.

What is a hybrid workplace?

A hybrid workplace model is where employees come to the office occasionally and complete tasks by working from home or remotely depending on their convenience.

Companies are facing immense pressure to find ways to bring people together, maintain productivity, increase engagement levels and invest in the creation of a dynamic workplace with a hybrid company culture.

Why is it so important?

When employers and employees work in sync, you have the most successful hybrid working setup. For employees this offers:

  • more autonomy at where and how they work
  • better work-life balance
  • less workplace stress
  • fewer office distractions
  • reduced cost of traveling.

For employers the great incentives are:

  • reduced operational costs
  • more productive employees
  • higher employee job satisfaction.

A hybrid work culture allows employees to collaborate with colleagues while in the office and focus on individual targets while at home.

To create an effective hybrid workspace, businesses need to handle issues pertaining to communication, employee wellbeing and inclusiveness. Being innovative in such attempts to solve issues can actually help in engaging employees and empowering them to stay productive.

Here are the six ways to help get your employees engaged.

1) Make everyone feel included

Inclusion is key to building an efficient hybrid workforce. There may be moments of proximity bias or inability to keep things fair and equitable. Such problems can be easily dealt with by inclusive leadership that encourages everyone to speak up, be heard and feel welcome.

With an inclusive culture in place, businesses can create a sense of belonging, engagement and connection for employees.

As flexible working is becoming a norm, here are some ways to foster an inclusive company culture:

  • design team meetings so that both remote and office-based workers can attend
  • foster an environment where every team member feels free to share ideas
  • acknowledge the differences of experience in your hybrid team and build on that
  • have regular 1:1 catch-ups with remote employees for brainstorming or emotional support
  • give the virtual workforce a sense of purpose by explaining how all of them contribute to the company’s success.

2) Help them to communicate, collaborate, and stay in sync

Employees working from the office often take instant communication for granted. For example, they can walk across the room and ask for an update. The expectation of instant communication often becomes a challenge for distributed teams. That’s why your company needs to set rules regarding asynchronous communication and set expectations in terms of how quickly discussions can happen.

To help employees adapt to hybrid working faster, here are some communication strategy tips to ensure employee engagement: 

  • record meetings and make them available to those who couldn’t join
  • always set the context while communicating with hybrid teams
  • utilise communication outlets and project management tools to track progress and facilitate collaboration
  • document processes and workflows
  • update workplace policies to include rules and information on flexible working to establish uniform and fair operating procedures
  • managers could provide written email confirmation of the weekly tasks and upcoming deadlines, for team members’ clarity.

3) Watch for Burnout Signs

Digital exhaustion is real, especially for the hybrid workforce. Not only are they trying to accomplish organisational tasks but also are running errands and family chores. Additionally, they have to be aware of every little thing including miscommunication and time zones. Workplace pressure often leaves people stressed and exhausted, leading to loss of motivation and lack of inspiration.

Typical signs of burnout include emotional fatigue, a sense of perpetual anxiety and atypical moods.

Here is how you can help employees to fight burnout:

  • add health check to meetings with the goal of looking for burnout signs
  • create a safe and trusting environment to understand if team members need help
  • discuss communication preferences and establish how to ask for help
  • blend personal and professional updates while communicating.

4) Promote wellbeing and healthy lifestyle

Usually, conscientious remote employees find “switching off” after work challenging. As they work too hard and for too long, it leads to burnout, physical and mental health issues.

A great way to show your employees that you care for their health and want to support them to be healthy is by providing access to wellbeing activities.

  • Ensure that your workers are taking regular breaks. Working from home blurs the line between office working hours and leisure time. Haven’t you felt guilty for taking a 10-minute walk break during work? A mandatory lunch break can give employees much-needed rest.
  • Arrange Covid-friendly company activities to get your employees away from their desks. Virtual games, calling for people to share their pictures of nature and team health challenges also contribute to remote team building.
  • A central communication hub helps bring teams together and creates a sense of belonging. People can come together to engage and collaborate over common professional and personal interests.

Remember, small initiatives like these go a long way in making your employees feel well.  

5) Reward and recognise employees

An important aspect of employee engagement and company culture is acknowledging work done. Don’t forget to do this for remote employees.

It is well-known that employees whose efforts and accomplishments are rewarded and recognised are more loyal to their organisations. ‘Kudos’ costs nothing, but provides public recognition for a job well done, which is often highly valued.

Going a step ahead, make recognition visible to make other team members of your company aware of the contributions remote workers make. It could be a virtual “happy work-anniversary” card, company award, or a “good work” GIF.

Whether they accomplish monthly targets or go out of their way to solve a customer query, celebrating everyday wins motivates your employees.

6) Help employees stay connected – virtually

Employees who work from home can feel isolated, lonely and detached from co-workers. In absence of those social “water cooler” interactions that otherwise help teams gel, it is harder to bounce ideas and get different perspectives remotely.

Additionally, because human interactions also happen through body language, remote employees miss out on non-verbal communication as they don’t see colleagues. At such a time, how can you help employees feel connected?

Email, with its endless “reply all” threads is the least engaging medium for engaging flexible workers. You can invest in efficient remote working tools and platforms where conversations can happen.

There are numerous remote working tools and companies mix and match the ones that best suit their tasks and employees.

  • Employee engagement – Xoxoday Empuls brings the digital workplace to life.
  • Rewards and recognition – Xoxoday Plum automates rewards and recognition, making it completely transparent.
  • Video conferencing – Zoom for face-to-face video calls allows teams to discuss tasks that need more explanation, share screens and host virtual meetings.
  • Project management – Asana manages workflows, helping the team stay focused on projects and goals.
  • Brainstorming – Miro is a collaborative whiteboard to thrash out ideas and present results.

Reimagining work after the virus

These ways of motivating your hybrid workforce and keeping them engaged won’t change even when the pandemic subsides. When things go back to normal, neither employers nor employees will be interested in the complete reinstatement of pre-pandemic work models and processes. The change in the form of redesigning work processes needs to begin now, especially for companies that are people-centric and value their employees. Alongside this, the principles of motivating hybrid teams will become the building blocks for companies that embrace this change.

This article is provided by Xoxoday.

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