One of the most significant and long-lasting effects of the Covid-19 pandemic has been the widespread implementation of hybrid working. Although many employees relish the flexibility offered by hybrid working, one of the biggest challenges for employers is learning how to effectively manage the performance of employees who aren’t in the office 5 days a week. Darwin Gray’s employment law team share important considerations for employers and tips for managing staff performance.
What are the potential issues of hybrid working?
- ‘Out of sight, out of mind’: When employees are working remotely, sometimes their performance is not monitored as closely as it is in the office. This can allow problems to fester, which ultimately makes them harder to tackle.
- Lack of motivation: With the physical absence of colleagues, many employees can feel unsupported and unmotivated to complete tasks.
- Communication styles: Increased reliance on technology and emails to communicate can lead to misunderstandings and miscommunication. This can create tension if left unresolved.
- Harder to detect problems: Even if you are in regular contact with employees who are working remotely, it is often more difficult to spot signs that they are struggling over Zoom or email.
- Overlooking team members: As employees who are working remotely are inevitably less visible, there is a risk that they can be overlooked in the workplace and miss out on important development opportunities.
Tips for managing staff performance
- Set clear expectations about performance: As it is more difficult to observe employees’ performance when they are working remotely, you need to be clear about your expectations and how you intend to assess their performance. Ensure that you communicate clear and realistic objectives and provide regular feedback.
- Conduct regular 1-2-1s: As many catch ups occur spontaneously in an office environment, it is important that you take time to schedule more structured, regular meetings with your employees who are working remotely in order to assess their workload, discuss any issues and provide feedback.
- Set boundaries with working patterns: If you require employees who are hybrid working to be in the office on certain days, be clear about this expectation and explain why their attendance at the office is beneficial. It is important to remember that most employment contracts still state that employees’ full time working location is the office and so asking employees to work in the office a few days a week is still much more flexible than pre-pandemic working practices.
- Encourage healthy working habits: Many employees struggle to maintain boundaries between work and home life when they are working remotely. As a result, they tend to work longer hours and can struggle to switch off from work. In order to avoid employees experiencing burnout and exhaustion, you should lead by example and encourage them to take regular breaks and disconnect from work at the end of the day.
- Don’t delay when responding to issues: When performance issues arise, it is much easier to avoid them when employees are hybrid working. However, in order to prevent the issues from escalating, it is important to tackle them as soon as they arise.