Many people returning to the workplace this summer will be doing so on a hybrid schedule, where they commute into the office for part of the week and spend the rest of their time at home. But just because your company figured out full-time remote work in 2020 doesn't mean the transition to a hybrid model will be easy.
Gallup chief workplace scientist Jim Harter tells CNBC Make It that "flex time can work well" as long as employees work with their managers to include the following three elements in their remote-work plan.
1. Clear expectations
There are endless ways to split up a 40-hour workweek, so practically speaking, the first thing to do is set expectations with your manager around when you'll be in the office versus when you'll log on remotely. Will you spend three consecutive days in the office and the end of the week at home, or slot in a work-from-anywhere day in the middle of the week? Or maybe you need longer sprints of in-person brainstorming, so you opt for three weeks working in the office and the last week of the month spent virtually.
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Whatever the case, now's the time to concretely lay out where you'll be when, and what parts of your job you'll be expected to handle in either location.
Harter adds that beyond the logistics of figuring out a schedule, you should also be involved in setting your own goals, and then work with your manager about how you'll achieve and measure them. Basically, if you know what's expected of you and deliver toward those expectations, you can show that remote work can aid (rather than impede) your progress at the company.
2. Meaningful one-on-ones
The pandemic showed just how important managers are to maintaining a healthy and resilient workforce, Harter says. Many were first in line to gauge how employees were doing at home, and they have the power to adjust expectations or even bring policy changes to senior leaders in support of their employees.
So with a new hybrid approach, he recommends people build in time for meaningful conversation with their manager at least once per week.
Frequent touchpoints will help your manager better understand your strengths, areas of improvement and gauge whether your priorities meet up with the team's goals, Harter says.
These discussions should also go beyond the surface level of how you're doing on your work tasks, he adds, as parts of your personal life are bound to impact your performance on the clock. Maybe you're a parent who needs to work non-traditional hours to accommodate changing school or child-care plans, for example.
As Harter puts it, "managers are in the best position to understand their employees' life situation well enough to adjust the work to accommodate them."
It can be harder to measure accountability when you're not physically reporting into the same place as your peers and showing your work on the spot.
But at the end of the day, whether you're in-person or remote, you have business objectives to complete and should have a method of documenting and measuring them. To that end, Harter says you should make sure you're building in elements where you remain accountable to yourself (such as by setting quarterly or yearly goals), to your team (such as by meeting deadlines) and to your clients (such as by collecting and evaluating external feedback).
You and your manager should also have a plan for adjustments if any of your objectives aren't being met, Harter says, whether that involves revisiting your remote-work schedule or something else.
On the flip side, Harter adds, managers must also be accountable to help their employees succeed, such as by making sure remote employees have access to training, development and paths to promotion at the organization.
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