Now that we live in a world where we have part of the workforce onsite and part working remotely, we have to adjust the way things are done to accommodate all types of workers. We’ve probably all been on a zoom meeting where some of the participants are on site, and some are off site. If you’ve been one of the offsite participants you might have felt like a second class member of the team. Some difficulties that remote attenders can face are video or sound trouble or difficulty being included in the conversation. Accommodations need to be made to get everyone feeling involved and part of the group. An online moderator can be beneficial by welcoming the online attenders, helping to handle any technological issues that arise as well as sharing participant questions with the facilitator.
Another difficulty that can arise in a hybrid working environment is helping remote employees feel a sense of camaraderie with their in-person counterparts. When the full staff work onsite there are multiple opportunities for natural interactions: eating lunch in the breakroom, waiting in the conference room before meetings, the proverbial water cooler chats. These are great opportunities to build rapport amongst colleagues and get to know each other. When some members of the staff are never onsite due to working remotely it is more difficult for them to feel part of the team. I once worked for a company where about 20% of the workforce was 100% remote and spread out all over the country. We had a Halloween costume contest every year. It was easy for the onsite employees to enter the contest. We included our remote workers by having them dress up and post pictures in our community message board. This way everyone got to see their creativity shine. Another activity we did to help include remote workers in the activities of the office was one year on National Milkshake Day, the HR team made milkshakes for the onsite staff and we sent gift cards to the remote workers to get a milkshake on the company. It was a small gesture, but it showed them that they were remembered. I think they appreciated that they were included in this fun little activity.
Collaboration and inclusivity is possible when working with a hybrid workforce. It just takes a little creativity and using all of the resources that we have at our disposal. How will you strive for collaboration and inclusion with your hybrid workforce?
Jennifer Webster SHRM-CP