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  • Nick Turner

3 Changes for Leaders to Consider: Shifting from In-Person to Remote

It’s no secret that leaders everywhere recently underwent what feels like a seismic shift in how they manage their teams. If you’d been a leader pre-pandemic and continued to lead post-pandemic, you’ve probably spent a lot of time figuring out how to create a great employee experience.

Despite that significant shift, there are many things that remain the same about creating a great employee experience pre vs. post pandemic. You have to recruit for your culture. You have to have a great onboarding and training program. You have to create a meaningful career path. You have to ensure your entire team's feedback is heard on a consistent basis. You have to create great incentives that include competitive pay, benefits and the like.

Here are three critical things that did change that all companies and leaders need to adjust for when managing a remote/hybrid team:

1) Individual leaders have to step up and take more responsibility for the employee experience.

HR generally takes the lead on culture creation in any work environment and they are an integral part of it. But the individual leaders throughout an organization have never been more important in creating a great employee experience. The manager has historically been a large deciding factor of what is a good or bad experience at work. That is now amplified as teams become distributed, with the percentage of time spent with the manager increasing as it relates to anyone else in the company. Individual leaders have to step up and take more responsibility for engagement.

2) With the loss of spontaneity in the office, intentionality is incredibly important in remote and hybrid environments.

The most important thing for a company, its leaders and its team that has moved from an in-office work environment to a fully remote or hybrid work environment is that everything now has to be done with much, much more intention. Nothing happens by chance anymore. There are no more water cooler moments, lunch breaks together or randomly passing by someone's desk. If anything happens to build relationships, it happens on purpose, and it's up to the company and its leaders to make those things happen. These moments have to be specifically planned, just like any other work task a team may have.

3) Ensuring equity in a hybrid environment.

If you work in a hybrid environment with a partially distributed team, where some employees may be full time remote or some are in office either part time or fully, the biggest challenge will be ensuring fair treatment and opportunities for every employee regardless of their work environment. It's natural to build closer relationships with those you may see every week or two weeks in person vs. someone you may only see every 6 months. This ties closely to #2 above, but you have to ensure you are spending equal time with every employee no matter their situation and everyone is getting the same opportunities. Again, this won't happen without intentionality.

There are many takes lately that stage remote vs. in-person work arrangements as a battle: “Who is going to win the RTO and remote work battle, companies or employees?”. We have to start thinking to ourselves: “Why not both?”

As a leader in any company, you have to take a mindset that your company and how you run it is a product. Your employees are your users. If you want to retain your “users” you need to find a way to provide them with the features in your product that they want. If you don’t, someone else will. The companies that take this mindset, as well as the employees that work there, are the ones who will win.

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