The key to successfully supervising in a hybrid work environment starts with the same fundamentals of good in-person supervision, but the way in which you do it looks different. It is best to check in with each employee to get a sense of their comfort level with hybrid work and managing their workload.
Establishing clear, realistic individual and team expectations can set your team up for success,
- Clearly state tasks and reasons for doing them.
- Help your team understand exactly how success will be measured and assessed.
- Discuss available work hours and if anything needs to change.
- As needed, check in and adjust expectations with your team.
Regular communication with your team is mutually valuable for everyone when functioning in a hybrid environment.
- Make sure communication is two-way.
- Communication tools are a simple way to keep everyone engaged. Email, text, and phone calls are a great short-term solution, and there are tools better suited for collaboration and community.
- Ask team members which communication tools work best for them. Some team members may have some challenges with tools.
- How should I communicate?
Manage Workload and Be Flexible
Work priorities may shift due to resource limitations and other limiting factors.
- In partnership with team members, discuss short-term and long-term priorities.
- Discuss how those priorities are contributing to the greater effort.
- Discuss individual opportunities and barriers to meet priorities and assess individual capacity. (e.g. internet disruptions, caretaking, etc.)
- If you didn’t use tools to track the work of your employees before moving into a hybrid environment, clearly define your purpose for doing it now. If part of your reason is because you don’t trust your employees will do work, think about how you held them accountable in person and if possible try something similar in a hybrid environment. Additional work tracking measures can feel micromanaged and erode trust between employee and supervisor.
- If there is a consistent issue with an employee not getting their work done in a hybrid environment, revisit expectations. You can have employees work in-person if they are unable to accomplish their work remotely.
Lead with Trust
Start with the idea that your employees want to do their best and approach every decision and interaction that way.
- Make yourself available and communicate availability to your team as they need.
- Follow up on questions, even if there isn’t an answer at the moment.
Reliable Resources and Technology
Be sure to double check with employees about hybrid work technical requirements and expectations surrounding that technology.
- There are many different tools to use to continue to work as a hybrid team. Remember that some people have more familiarity with some tools than others. Discuss with your team how technology can and should be used and what is appropriate for each type of communication, for example a chat vs. email.
- Consider holding practice hybrid meetings where employees just get a chance to try out the technology before they have to use it for an official meeting and ensure that meeting participants are engaged, regardless of their work location.
- Resources for working and learning remotely
- Trying to decide which tool to use?
- If you have specific technology needs or questions, work with your local IT department.
- During planned check-ins with employees, ask about any technology successes or challenges they have experienced.
Professional Development Planning
Even when employees are in a hybrid environment, professional development is important. With your employees, discuss opportunities to find online learning, books, or other resources to help develop their skills.
- Support career development.
- Find learning opportunities on the UW–Madison Professional Development website and on LinkedIn Learning.
- Some professional associations have also expanded their offering of hybrid and online learning.
Engagement, Inclusion and Diversity
Intentionally center Engagement, Inclusion and Diversity (EID) principles within the employee hybrid work experience and environment.
- Recognize and respect diverse lived experiences across your team, and normalize the impacts, feelings, and potential disruptions that may be encountered in their varied situations.
- Pause and intentionally connect to “social presence”—the experience you have when you physically meet up with someone in the office or hallway and say “hi” and check in. Make space to find out how people are doing before diving into what they are doing.
- Start by assuming everyone is doing the best they can. Then get curious about what you are seeing, feeling, experiencing, and ask questions of others for more information.
- Strengthen relationships by acknowledging and modeling—transparently—your own uncertainty with hybrid teams.
- Continue to support hybrid work practices as a key strategy in leveling the playing field for underrepresented populations. Hybrid work improves diversity and inclusion.
- Model the way in interrupting—and addressing—concerning behaviors you witness or become aware of in the hybrid work environment.
- Be present. Let team members know you are available. Don’t let working in a hybrid environment turn into a disappearing act for anyone. Consider ways that you can assess team member’s sense of inclusion; be accessible to individuals through whatever communication tool works best for them.
- Be mindful of tone in communication and management style. If you worry, or become aware that your messaging may have negatively impacted someone, make an effort to connect via a voice option to apologize, address, and learn from the impact.
- Ensure your team members are aware of employee resources available for personal and professional assistance.
Remember to add some fun and social activity. Usually when we are working in the same place, there is opportunity to talk about things other than work. Don’t forget that when working in a hybrid environment. Some ideas to consider:
- Virtual lunches – eat lunch together using video chat as an opportunity to get together and talk about non-work related things.
- Start a fun group chat – talk about family and pets, share memes, or anything else work-appropriate but not work-related.
- Create a virtual water cooler site.
- Maintain or start newsletters sharing team information within team or unit.
- Plan an in-person social gathering, retreat, or team building activity.
Hiring and Onboarding
If you are hiring or onboarding, work with HR and read these resources for more information:
Remote Work: Guidance and Resources for Employees
UW-Madison Policy Website
Top 15 Tips to Effectively Manage Remote Employees
Forbes Coaches Council
Leading at a Distance
LinkedIn Learning (37 min)
Reinventing Work In the New Normal
LinkedIn Learning (100 min)
Leveraging Virtual and Hybrid Teams for Improve Effectiveness
LinkedIn Learning (29 min)
How To Host Inclusive Hybrid Meetings
Guidance and checklist