Although employees quickly embraced remote work amid the COVID-19 pandemic, many employers instead have been eager to bring the non-essential workers back into the office too, with many looking to adopt hybrid models in recent months.
But remote can work and actually improve business, said Chris Dyer, founder and CEO of PeopleG2, during the 2022 Health & Benefits Leadership Conference in Las Vegas.
“What is remote work?” Dyer asked. “Often people have a clear idea of what it is, but when we discuss we don’t all agree.”
It can range from a digital nomad, out in nature working beside the pool but constantly wondering where their internet signal will come from next, to an off-site employee working in the field to a plumber or electrician accomplishing their tasks out of a truck or van, he said.
Then there is the hybrid model, one of the most difficult to manage, Dyer said.
“Of course, it’s the one everyone is trying to run to right now,” he added, “because they’re trying to appease employees that want remote and appease management that maybe wants people back in the office to justify their expensive leases.”
But if employers want hybrid to work, everyone has to pretend they’re remote, he advised. Everyone dials into the meeting, versus some calling in while the rest gather in a conference room having side conversations.
Dyer shared some other successful strategies for HR leaders seeking success for their remote workforce:
- Ditch the annual survey. “You’ve got to move faster,” he said. In a traditional office, you’re able to pick up that an employee might not be as engaged or happy based on their mannerisms. If everyone is working remote, it’s harder to get that naturally. For example, Dyer sends out a one-question survey every week to collect in-the-moment data throughout the year.
- Remember to celebrate wins and say thank you. PeopleG2 has a water cooler room on Slack where employees can post anything they want (as long as it’s work appropriate). But the room can also be used to recognize employee successes, which works for both extroverted and introverted employees, he said.
- Stop having 1:1 meetings. In remote and hybrid work, these types of meetings are terrible, he said, excluding coaching meetings and the like. “In your regular course of work, if you’re having a one-on-one, it’s a total waste of time,” he said. “Nobody knows what was discussed. We need to bring people together in groups more consistently. The more one-on-ones, the slower you’ll be and the more hours you’ll work.”
- Curate your meetings. Simply put, he said, start on time, set a goal to end early, and have an agenda. “No agenda, no meeting,” he said. “How can you possibly show up and be helpful in that meeting if you don’t know why you’re supposed to be there?”