The Future of our Workplaces: Maintaining visibility in a hybrid workforce
Encouraging visibility is a critical challenge to overcome in order to maintain fairness, productivity and moral in a hybrid workforce. Employees may feel anxious that they will be overlooked, and their contributions not recognised as much when working remotely. Equally, managers may be concerned that they are out of touch with their direct reports.
The structural nature of hybrid working may cause almost inevitable power imbalances in organisations due to what Mortensen and Haas refer to as hybridity positioning and hybridity competence in their article for Harvard Business Review. Read more about these terms HERE
Whilst an employee’s visibility is greatly influenced by their physical location, visibility challenges also arise due to their ability and technical skills in navigating an organisation’s hybrid structure. Both are, therefore, equally as important when increasing visibility in an organisation.
So, what practical steps can organisation’s take to help both employees and managers feel visible regardless of where they are working?
Here are some key elements you may wish to include in your hybrid working visibility strategy:
- Map your hybrid workforce in such a way that accommodates for its dynamism
Managers need to be able to clearly see the configuration of their team and who is working where and when. It would be useful for this map to be able to accommodate for dynamism, and therefore be easily updated if working patterns change.
Mapping out the team on one document/platform increases visibility as all members of the team are viewed together and everyone is aware of the team’s movements.
- Educate and Increase Awareness
It would be beneficial for managers to meet with their employees during the transition to hybrid working to ensure clarity of working pattern/situation and discuss any concerns individuals have.
Consider alerting managers of the impact of hybrid working on visibility and the implicit biases associated with this, particularly in regard to promotion opportunities etc.
Increasing awareness of the challenges and anxieties faced by employees working remotely, for example, may help encourage open conversation and psychological safety regarding this topic. Encourage employees to talk about their working situation and ask for the resources they need to help them feel more visible.
- Identify imbalances in Resources
It can be beneficial to identify and provide any resources or infrastructure that employees who will be working remotely may need to ensure they have equal access to information and internal resources.
Also try to identify any training needs that individuals may have to fully utilise the technology in place to support your organisation’s hybrid working, for example, video conferencing skills. This helps to decrease the hybridity competence power imbalances.
- One shared platform
Simple, but effective tools such as Trello boards to map projects and progress, could be used when working remotely and, in the office, to ensure consistency and equity.
- Encourage team members to upload profile pictures so the team is always aware of who they are working with.
- Consider sharing the hybrid working map to promote transparency as to who is working where and when.
- Use this platform to upload updates and progress on all tasks whether individual or group projects and share your success! This increases visibility of members contribution and value to the team.
o Perhaps set weekly reminders and identify a space on your platform where people can offer one thing per week that they are proud of or have achieved.
o Members could also be encouraged to give their colleagues shout outs as well, perhaps schedule this into weekly meetings to provide a structured way to encourage this.
- Ensure the platform has a team chat function to encourage discussion to be shared equally with team members in and out of the office.
o Ensure that messages from team members working remotely are responded to, it is important that they feel they have been heard.
- A ‘Camera on’ policy
There may, of course, be occasions, when this is not feasible, for example, if a team member is joining a call whilst travelling back from a client, however, encourage as much face-to-face interaction as possible to promote visibility.
This is a physical reinforcement that members who are working remotely are real-life individuals and part of the team.
Remember have patience and expect these changes to be incremental and adapted over time as you identify what works well and what does not. The key take away regarding visibility in hybrid working may be that awareness may be the most powerful tool to ensure no one feels ‘out of sight – out of mind’.