Forty-five percent of white-collar workers in the U.S. worked partly or fully remotely at the end of 2021, according to Gallup. And this figure is likely to increase with time. In fact, a survey conducted by Gartner found that 48% of white-collar employers intend to allow people to work remotely to some extent once the COVID-19 pandemic eases. In comparison, prior to 2019, this figure stood at just 30%.
The permanent move to hybrid and remote work offers freedom and flexibility for many, but it also represents a fundamental shift in the way we execute business strategy. With a highly decentralized workforce, leaders are now facing a whole new set of challenges that reflect the realities of “the new normal.” To succeed, today's leaders must be equipped to strategically and efficiently adapt to it.
Developing leaders and ensuring individuals are independent and accountable in a remote environment are two challenges that leave many executives, team leaders, and managers scrambling for solutions. Some may instinctively assume that not meeting in person regularly necessarily harms an organization’s ability to develop. For example, if you’re not meeting in person regularly, how can you build for the future by growing leaders within your organization? And how can you ensure people are meeting expectations if individuals are not sitting at a desk in the office where you can see them?
If you’ve asked yourself these questions, you’re not alone. Luckily, there are proven strategies for addressing the challenges associated with a remote and hybrid workforce that can help your organization succeed, no matter where your people work.
Ingrain Company Vision and Values Into the Workflow
One of the things that suffers the most in a hybrid or remote work environment is the ability to cultivate a common culture. It wasn’t that long ago that the workplace evolved into a place to do work together, building a sense of community in the process. The one thing that hasn’t changed, regardless of where the work is getting done, is the need for a strong vision and values to guide performance and culture. One of the things leaders cannot take for granted is the importance of making sure that everyone in the organization is inspired by the vision of the organization, and understand the operating norms and values that guide behavior and collaboration throughout the working process.
The vision and values of the organization can’t just be stored in a portal within your performance management system any more than they could hang on the walls and meeting rooms of your physical office. Instead, vision and values need to be infused into the way your organization does business — and how collaboration happens within your organization — regardless of where people are working.
Ensure That Strategy Is Transparent
Strategy is the foundation for organizational objectives and goals. Without a clear strategy that is communicated throughout the organization, your business may be going in many different directions at one time. Effective leaders at every level of the organization use a balanced measure of strategy that ranges from financial goals and new products and services to learning and employee engagement. Without a well-understood strategy, your organization could be disrupted by a hybrid and remote work process that is not transparent or aligned with where the organization needs to go.
Set Specific Goals With Measurable Outcomes
With a decentralized workforce, leaders at every level of an organization must focus on results instead of just activities. For this reason, it’s critical for leaders to ensure that the goals they set with their teams are specific and that their outcomes are measurable. Otherwise, it’s impossible to accurately assess progress and help individuals remain accountable and engaged in their contributions.
One of the most effective ways to ensure your team is pursuing goals effectively is by utilizing Objectives and Key Results, or OKRs. This framework ensures that individuals understand what is most important through the use of clear objectives and the key results that demonstrate achievement of the goal. OKRs also help teams measure results by comparing them to specific and measurable outcomes. Leaders must remain focused on regular conversations around goals, especially if they are working in a virtual or hybrid environment.
Use Regular Check-ins to Encourage Collaboration and Remove Barriers
Depending on the size of your team, collaboration and communication can take any number of forms. But when it comes to developing leaders within your organization and helping individuals remain accountable, regular check-ins are critical in developing independence and accountability in a hybrid or remote environment.
Smaller organizations are more likely to have the ability to gather for a daily check-in, while bigger companies will likely need to meet at the team level. But whatever your organization’s size, be sure that your people are connecting regularly to check progress on objectives, identify and address barriers to success, assess motivation and skill needs, and collaborate. These check-ins should happen frequently — at least weekly, if possible.
To get the most out of these regular check-ins, organizations should utilize Continuous Performance Management, or CPM. With CPM, managers have the opportunity to collaborate with individuals and offer real-time coaching. This kind of continuous feedback helps employees grow their skills and works accountability into the natural flow of work. Meanwhile, with a CPM software solution, leaders have the ability to track the progress of individuals and teams while also identifying and addressing potential roadblocks before they occur by taking both macro- and micro-level views of the work being done in the organization. With CPM, leaders, managers, and individual contributors can fully leverage OKRs to maximize their contribution to the organization’s goals, helping everyone succeed.
Lean Into Best Practices and the Right Software Solutions
When it feels difficult to foster independence and accountability while developing leaders in your organization, remember that there are best practices to help your remote and hybrid teams face these challenges. What’s more, with the right software solutions, such as CPM tools, you can ensure that your people are engaged and accountable, and that your organization is developing leaders, no matter where they’re located.