With 82% of company leaders planning to allow employees to work remotely some of the time, organizations are having to adjust their business model to accommodate both in-office and remote employees.
We recently assembled a panel of HR leaders to discuss the challenges when it comes to managing a hybrid workforce. Moderated by Advanced Resources’ Brian Brooke, the panel featured:
- Kate Daly, Senior VP Human Resources at Optimas Solutions
- Norah Larke, Chief Human Resources Officer at Wintrust Financial
- Amber Kennelly, Chief Human Resources Officer at HUB International
While a number of topics were addressed, the main three themes throughout the virtual event were the importance of culture, leadership effectiveness and technology.
Key Takeaway: Culture is Top-of-Mind
In a Gartner survey, 30% of leaders reported being concerned with maintaining corporate culture when dealing with a hybrid workforce. So it was no surprise that leading up to the event the majority of the questions we received for our panelists centered around culture.
Brian led off the conversation asking our panelists, "How can you focus on maintaining your culture when some employees are no longer or not onsite?" Here were some of the highlights:
- HUB International has taken a "human first" approach. Amber explained that they encourage their managers to talk to their teams about what's going and and what their reality looks like. With not all leaders comfortable having these conversations, they held a training to equip their managers with the tools needed.
- Communication was emphasized by all three panelists, whether it be through emails, newsletters, town halls or another mode. Regular and transparent communication is crucial. As Norah noted, people want to hear from leadership and you can't communicate enough, the unknown can just lead to chaos and concern.
- At Optimas Solutions, they require everyone to be on camera for all meetings. Kate coaches her leaders that when you see someone, it's a different kind of communication and interaction than when you're just listening to a voice.
- Get creative and have some fun! All three leaders and their teams have had to get a little creative when it comes to employee engagement, finding opportunities for employees to connect with people and have some fun. (Think meditation sessions, talent events or conference call bingo).
Listen to the full section where our panelists discuss maintaining a healthy culture:
Key Takeaway: Leadership Effectiveness is Being Put to the Test
Many managers have found themselves leading remote employees for the first time. While 61% of business leaders have implemented more frequent manager-employee check-ins, 29% report not taking any measures to track productivity remotely.
This led to our second main theme of the session: how have our panelists prepared their leaders to manage a remote workforce?
- Being a global organization, Optimas Solutions already had some leaders that were managing remote teams. They took the best practices for these leaders and were able to share tips and tricks for new leaders.
- At Wintrust Financial, HR is being proactive and connecting with leaders to understand any challenges they're facing as well as any tools or resources they need to be successful.
- Kate noted the importance to focus on managing outcomes, not activities - coming down to performance management. It has been a shift for many of their managers to set clear expectations for their employees of what will happen over the next week, and identifying what measures they're using as a manager to make sure they will be productive and successful.
- While manager effectiveness is important all the time, Amber emphasized it is even more critical in moments of crisis. At HUB they're developing their managers' toolboxes to make sure they're able to have effective conversations, know how to set SMART goals, and hold people accountable to those goals.
Listen to the full section where our panelists discuss preparing leaders to manage:
Technology is Key for Productivity, Collaboration & Connectivity
As organizations made the initial shift to a remote setting, technology became more important than ever. Just imagine making the move without the technology capabilities we have today. IDC experts forecast software investments such as cloud solutions and tools for business continuity will see positive growth of close to 2%.
For the third main theme of the session, the panelists were asked what technologies they have found to assist their workforce.
- For Amber, it's been a lot of experimenting to find what works best for the organization. HUB was in the process of updating their Skype technology and launching Microsoft Teams. They discovered Zoom was actually more effective for them than Skype, and people were more comfortable with the platform.
- At Wintrust Financial, being a community bank the organization is not focusing on how to go remote for the foreseeable future, but instead how to use technology to allow their team to be effective and productive. The organization is looking ahead to rolling out Microsoft Teams which will provide that added functionality, as well as the ability to leverage video.
- Optimas Solutions was scheduled to convert from Google to Office 365, which Kate praises her IT team for completing while the company was in lockdown. The functionality is being built into their culture, using Teams to call teammates, utilizing document and file sharing, and more.
- Another technology Kate noted was their investment in lobby kiosks to auto temp check people coming to their facilities. With a number of their facilities being open, safety for their employees is critical. They're experimenting with a few different types of technologies that will look at inputting an employee ID or facial recognition.
Listen to the full section where our panelists discuss technology at their organizations:
Thank you to our panelists and attendees for an informative and engaging discussion. If you're facing any challenges shifting to a hybrid workforce, Advanced Resources is here to help. Reach out to our team to learn how we can work together.