Hybrid working is here to stay, folks. The great work from home experiment of the past 18 months is a success; companies realize that employees can be just as productive working from anywhere, and workers are embracing the flexibility of remote and hybrid work.
Some 83% of workers want their company to offer a hybrid work model post-pandemic, and 39% would like the option to work from home up to four days per week. Many hyper-growth companies are listening to employee preferences, with 63% implementing a “productivity anywhere” workforce model and introducing the possibility of a hybrid workplace for employees.
It’s clear that hybrid work is becoming a permanent part of how we work, but what are the potential downsides of such a model? Hybrid work can lead to longer working hours, micromanagement, a dissolution of company culture, and opportunities for miscommunication. However, one significant challenge that seems to be prevalent is breaking down silos in a hybrid workplace.
How do silos develop in a hybrid workplace?
Without visibility into what other teams are doing, or the option to pop by a team’s desk during the workday, projects and tasks can get lost in translation, and workers can feel more isolated from their peers.
Being at home rather than in the office makes it easier to hide behind a screen and withdraw from colleagues and other teams. If some teammates are fully remote and others are hybrid or in-office, it can be even trickier to make sure everyone feels engaged and involved.
This siloed approach to work intensifies other challenges associated with remote work, such as miscommunication, lack of manager trust, and disintegration of company culture. So how can we begin breaking down silos in hybrid workplaces? We’ve developed five simple ways you can streamline communication and collaboration to keep your teams on the same page.
1. Rethink how your teams work
If you think your pre-existing remote work policy will naturally adapt to a hybrid work model, it might be time to go back to the drawing board. A hybrid work policy needs to be dynamic, flexible, and give the employee autonomy over where they’d like to work on a particular day or week.
You need to ensure the workforce is fully supported in a hybrid model, including reexamining processes and policies, office layouts, and meetings, and providing teams with the technical support they need to fulfill their responsibilities.
Enabling hybrid work through versatile policies will support employees to control their work environment and boost productivity and job satisfaction, which should help them feel more engaged. A fully supported workforce should limit the silos associated with hybrid working through enhanced communication and collaboration.
2. Rethink your management style
Micromanagement is one of the biggest challenges of remote work, which can, in turn, lead to silos in hybrid work. Micromanaging is counterproductive to a flexible work environment and may cause resentment and frustration among employees.
Instead, managers should focus on employee autonomy. For example, instead of being expected to be online providing updates at all hours, employees should feel they have their manager’s trust to complete tasks on time to a high standard. Managers should be facilitating positive results by removing blockers and supporting employees to do their best work.
Weekly 1:1 meetings with direct reports are an excellent way for managers to communicate expectations and provide direction and feedback. Weekly team meetings, standups, or coffee chats will facilitate teamwork and engagement and aid in breaking down silos. But be careful not to overload employee calendars — Zoom fatigue is real, and hybrid workers want to feel connected without feeling overwhelmed.
3. Rethink your job roles
It’s essential to define the roles and responsibilities suited to a hybrid workplace and those that are not. Not all positions can be performed remotely, and this needs to be considered when developing flexible work processes and communicating these to employees.
Those who can work remotely or hybrid should be given every opportunity, support, and resource they need to be productive. For other employees, clear expectations and boundaries should be set around the roles and work that can be performed from home. Let team members know how often they’re expected to be in the office and when they can work from home.
Employees who are informed and understand their responsibilities will be better equipped to handle the expectations of their role without feeling frustrated about other team members who may have more flexibility. Complete transparency and involvement of the employee in decision-making will ensure that team members don’t feel excluded.
4. Rethink your company culture
Along with the shift to more flexible work policies comes a noticeable change in company culture. Businesses are concerned with how they can preserve culture with a semi- or predominantly remote workforce.
Culture is much more than office perks and team building events. Culture begins with a company’s approach to work. Consider the critical characteristics you want to make intrinsic to the culture, and how they can be achieved in a hybrid work environment. For example, providing flexibility to employees and trusting them to complete their work from home will provide an excellent framework for creating a transparent, respectful work culture.
It’s time to reimagine the way we work
The way we work has changed for good, making it the perfect time to reevaluate your workforce based on the changing needs and behaviors of the business and your employees. For your company to be resilient and provide the best possible experience for workers, you need to reevaluate work through a lens of flexibility.
A collaborative, autonomous culture for workers is the exact opposite of a closed, siloed work style that needs to be kept firmly in the past. A compassionate, flexible work environment will increase employee happiness and engagement, and thus breaking down silos in a hybrid workplace to ensure that employees are dedicated to teamwork and collaboration no matter where they are.
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