The COVID-19 pandemic has brought massive changes to the way that companies and employees are expected to operate. One of the largest changes brought by lockdown is an increase in hybrid work schedules as employees move toward a mix between remote and in-office working.
According to Gartner, 75% of hybrid or remote workers say their expectations for flexible work have increased, with four out of 10 employees polled saying they would leave if a company insists on returning to an in-person office experience. Melanie Foreman, Revenue Operations Manager at Slack, and Anshu Mishra, Senior Integration Engineer at Atlassian, hosted a session at this year’s Biz Systems Magic conference to explain how business technology professionals can help make this new era of hybrid work operate smoothly for everyone involved, focusing specifically on how people management and innovative technical processes are essential to success.
Crafting an optimal hybrid work environment means adjusting management strategies to the new reality of combined in-person and remote schedules. Melanie Foreman categorized a number of ways to improve, emphasizing where to lean out and when to lean in as a manager. Hybrid work, according to Foreman, presents an opportunity to hone good protocols and rethink bad ones.
People Management: Leaning Out
Foreman first encouraged managers to rethink performance metrics, focusing particularly on the proper level of granularity for data. She emphasized that data for performance should be pulled at team levels rather than individual, and that goals should not be set at daily or weekly benchmarks, but rather at monthly or quarterly milestones. She also doubled down on the need for feedback from the people you are measuring—this gives proper levels of narrative to otherwise raw data.
Foreman next talked about leaning out of the typical 9 to 5 work day. Instead of sticking to the same rigid schedules necessitated by in-person work, Foreman explained that managers should create clarity on ownership and expectations, align team expectations with company culture and communicate those expectations constantly, and track and encourage paid time off.
She also encouraged leaning out of a carefully curated personal brand, explaining that hybrid work means fewer opportunities for camaraderie and commiseration with fellow employees. “If there is a difference between who you are at work and personal life, now’s a great time to blur those lines,” Foreman explained. “Be more authentic and sincere with your team.”
By leaning out of so-called professionalism and into sincerity, managers can make their teams feel empowered to communicate clearly about pain points in this new hybrid work reality.
People Management: Leaning In
Hybrid work also allows for managers to rethink what helpful and healthy management looks like. Foreman emphasized the need for actionable feedback—goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART, for short), and that tie into company-wide OKRs and KPIs. In the same way that goals are specific and timely, make sure that feedback is communicated in the same way, and try to encourage face-to-face or video-chat-assisted feedback whenever possible.
Foreman also emphasized the necessity of leaning into personalized roles and directives. By providing SMART goals that show an understanding of each team member’s strengths and needs, managers can both inspire trust and create clarity. With remote work, clarity should also be facilitated by robust documentation, including things such as personal operating manuals, training plans, team-wide goals, and roles and responsibilities tables. Through SMART goals and in-depth documentation, managers can unlock productivity and pitch every pain point as a growth opportunity.
Foreman wrapped it all up by explaining that the number one thing to lean into is the importance of good pay: If you want to show your employees you appreciate them, compensate them generously.
BT Automations to Support Hybrid Work
While new management strategies are necessary to truly support hybrid teams, rethinking traditional workflows and processes is equally as important to keep operations running smoothly and iterating with the changing reality.
Anshu Mishra explained a number of the processes he developed to minimize pain points as Atlassian employees began working from the office again. Crafting self-serve, centralized, and low-touch automations helped unlock existing infrastructure, allowing employees more fully to engage with your company’s tech stack. In a hybrid work environment, empowering your workforce to customize the workflows that will save them time and effort is key.
With a geographically diffuse workforce, system security is also paramount, but should not exist at the expense of operational ease. Anshu found that finding a balance between service-to-service authentication and user authentication is key, along with opening access for custom roles while also ensuring proper access.
Overall, democratizing and encouraging automation self-service is a surefire way to ensure that teams minimize waste and maximize clear communication. All of this should go hand in hand with a focus on limiting synchronous work to only necessary operations. Through custom automations and specified enterprise bots, teams can automate otherwise time-consuming operations such as pull requests, employee onboarding, and granting of software and hardware access.
As offices reopen and companies continue to reconsider remote and in-person work balances, it’s up to BT professionals to ensure that hybrid workflows run smoothly through both fine-tuned management protocols and automation processes.