As more remote teams transition to a hybrid structure, one question at the forefront of many business leaders’ minds is how to maintain high productivity levels both at home and in the office. 55 percent of employees with flexible work options are high performers, compared to just 36 percent of onsite nine-to-five employees, according to a Gartner report. But hybrid workers can still face barriers to concentration that derail their productivity.    

Some of these distractions include emails or text messages, unscheduled phone calls or video chats, news headlines, social media notifications, and caregiver or household responsibilities. In fact, the Gartner research continues, hybrid workers are 2.54 times more prone to encounter digital distractions than onsite employees. As a team leader or business owner, it’s your job to reinforce a culture of productivity with some help from the strategies below.       

1. Improve time management

Effective time management skills boost self-efficacy, conscientiousness, stress reduction, and well-being, all of which elevate job performance, a study in the PLOS One Journal points out. However, some employees need help learning to structure and manage their time — especially at home when they’re not as accountable to direct supervision. To help them overcome these challenges, it’s important to train your team members in these remote time management best practices from 4PSA:  

  • Stick to a routine, whether working at home or in the office.
  • Schedule high-priority tasks around optimal energy levels. 
  • Carve out time for short, periodic breaks in the workday. 
  • Identify SMART goals that not only specify what they’ll achieve but also when they’ll achieve it.
  • Declutter the workspace to save time and boost efficiency.
  • Create boundaries or screen limits to avoid digital distractions. 

2. Use the right tech solutions

A joint survey from the business solution platforms Wrike and Pulse found that 58 percent of leaders want a technology stack that optimizes team collaboration, project management, and internal communication. Asynchronous collaborative work management (CWM) software — for example, Asana or Microsoft Planner — is the answer. It allows teams to keep all communication, including project files, assigned tasks, and status updates—in one centralized online platform. 

Projects are easy to adjust and teams stay notified of all changes without the need for meetings or emails. This means hybrid team members can stay connected no matter where they’re located. No need to orient their schedules around virtual meetings at specific times. And by taking the immediate urgency out of communication, which often causes mental overload, this flexible solution reduces Zoom fatigue and increases productivity.

3. Clarify goals and expectations

In a hybrid environment, you can’t measure the contributions of team members using traditional baseline metrics such as hours in the office. Instead, it’s important to set clear expectations of what their job deliverables are. “Close to half of U.S. employees start their day with an unclear definition of what they’re expected to achieve,” data from Gallup indicates. Gallup advises clarifying expectations around these three key performance domains.

One’s work

What goals will the employee need to set and meet in terms of their individual tasks?    

One’s team

What projects will the employee need to partner with other team members on?

One’s customer

How will the employee translate their work into the larger scope of customer needs?

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4. Maintain work-life balance

While 70 percent of employees want the flexible option of a hybrid model, one in five thinks their manager doesn’t care about work-life balance. On top of that, 93 percent feel overworked or exhausted on the job, a Microsoft survey indicates.

If this trend continues, it can lead to burnout which lowers energy, motivation, sense of purpose, and overall quality of performance. Therefore, it’s vital to set an example for your team in the area of work-life balance. Communicate when you are not available and consistently unplug after a certain time each day. Resist the urge to send or answer emails after hours, and allow employees to create their own boundaries.   

5. Set limits on virtual meetings

According to the same Microsoft research cited above, the amount of time spent in virtual meetings has doubled in the past year. The length of each meeting has also increased from 35 to 45 minutes. Moreover, 62 percent of these meetings are unscheduled. Which interrupts the workflow of employees who are required to join. 

Another study in 2019 found that workplace interruptions elevate stress, weaken attention spans, and result in errors. In some cases, virtual meetings are necessary. But, when you spring them on employees or exceed the time allotted, you can worsen the digital overload that hybrid workers often experience already.    

More than likely, you and your team added additional meetings when going remote. Now is the time to determine what meetings are vital to maintaining performance. If you can, it may even be valuable to set aside a specific day of the week as a ‘no meeting’ day to help employees carve out dedicated work time. However you decide to streamline your virtual meetings, just be sure you’re vetting what’s important and what’s a distraction for you and your team.

6. Focus on building team spirit

Adaptable employees who can sustain relationships with coworkers both in-person and on a virtual platform tend to thrive on a hybrid team. But those who aren’t as skilled in forming connections can find the remote-onsite stratification hard to navigate. For these employees, a lack of cohesion leads to feeling “out of sync with colleagues and managers,” which hinders their ability to collaborate, reports Harvard Business Review

Poor collaboration can also harm productivity, so reinforce a culture of team spirit with these initiatives.

Regular employee feedback

Set aside time each week for employees to pitch ideas for workflow or organizational improvements, then vote as a team on which idea is the winner.  

Team activities

Organize a team lunch or coffee break, either in person or via video conference. Based on the number of employees who join in, you can also coordinate smaller breakout sessions to facilitate more personal, in-depth connections.

Promote personal wellness

Coordinate virtual exercise classes or fitness challenges to promote friendly competition between coworkers and invest in their well-being at the same time.

Community activism

Raise funds for a charitable mission together, as this can help align everyone around a common goal and boost team morale through community activism.

Employee voice

Give employees ownership over their team bonding rituals. When the group has a voice in choosing these activities, they can be more excited to participate.    

Lead your hybrid team to maximum productivity

Hybrid work is the future of business for organizations all over the world. However, this model is only as effective and successful as the performance of hybrid workers. By focusing on these strategies not only will you maximize your team’s output but you’ll also ensure they stay engaged and happy despite the challenges of the new hybrid environment.

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AvatarJesse Relkin

Jesse Relkin has been a freelance writer for more than 12 years and is a small business owner based in Tampa Bay, Florida. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.