Near-Far: How to Track Your Employees' Performance Under Hybrid Model Work?

Companies worldwide had to look for alternative work models in response to the Covid-19 outbreak. Some switched to hybrid work, allowing employees to do their jobs from home at least some of the time. But, as it turns out, this work arrangement is here to stay.

Near-Far: How to Track Your Employees' Performance Under Hybrid Model Work?

Companies worldwide had to look for alternative work models in response to the Covid-19 outbreak. Some switched to hybrid work, allowing employees to do their jobs from home at least some of the time. But, as it turns out, this work arrangement is here to stay.

Atlassian, Microsoft, 3M, SAP, Twitter, and other industry giants have all jumped on the bandwagon. Their staff members can choose where and how they work, having more freedom than ever. On the other hand, employers reap the benefits in the form of cost savings, lower turnover, and higher productivity.

If you're ready to start a business, don't rush into renting an office. Instead, consider how to make the hybrid model work for your team. For example, you may use a coworking space for quarterly meetings and let your employees work from home the rest of the time.

This approach can reduce overhead costs, increase job satisfaction, and improve your bottom line. But first, you must learn to manage a hybrid team and find the best ways to track employee performance.

Why your business should embrace hybrid work

Hybrid work models combine remote and onsite work, giving people more control over their schedules. Some companies require one or more days of office work per week, while others allow employees to choose when and where they work. Another option is to ask your staff to only come into the office for specific projects or events.

Not every job or industry supports hybrid work, but for those that do, the benefits are significant. In 2022, global advisory company Gallup surveyed 8,090 employees to see how they felt about this work arrangement. About 70% of respondents said they have a better work-life balance thanks to it.

Other commonly reported benefits included:

  • Higher efficiency and productivity
  • Less burnout and fatigue
  • Improved communication and collaboration
  • Better access to resources and equipment
  • More opportunities for professional growth

This work arrangement benefits employers, too. Companies with hybrid work policies find hiring and retaining talent easier, resulting in lower turnover and increased team morale. Additionally, regardless of location, they can employ the best person for the job.

For example, U.S. companies can look beyond local talent and employ British, Indian, or Asian virtual assistants.

With this approach, businesses can move to a smaller office or sublease office space to cut costs. At the same time, they can expand their teams and start offering new products or services. The result? Faster innovation, increased productivity, and higher revenue, among other benefits.

Hybrid work can also boost employee engagement, leading to improved performance. Additionally, it may reduce absenteeism and, thereby, minimize business disruptions. These factors can give your company a competitive advantage and improve its reputation.

But despite their perks, hybrid work models also pose unique challenges. In some cases, this practice can hurt productivity, collaboration, and employee morale, affecting a company's bottom line.

Hybrid work has its share of challenges

While offering your employees more choices over when and how they work is great, you must also keep them engaged. Otherwise, they may lose sight of their expectations and fail to get things done.

The shift to a hybrid workforce also requires organizational change and thorough planning. Every business is different, so you must choose a hybrid work model that supports your company's needs.

For instance, flexible hybrid models allow employees to choose where and when they want to work. This approach offers the most freedom but may not work for your business.

If, say, you're developing a new product, you need to have some people onsite. The same goes for manufacturing, hospitality, or retail jobs, which require a physical presence. A restaurant owner may allow his accountant or marketing manager to work remotely, but he still needs waiters, bartenders, and other onsite employees.

As mentioned earlier, there are also cases where hybrid work arrangements can negatively impact business performance.

For example, more than one-third of the employees surveyed by Gallup say they feel less connected to their company's culture in a hybrid work environment. Other potential challenges include:

·         Limited access to work equipment and resources

·         Poor communication in the workplace

·         Difficulty coordinating work schedules and tasks

·         Diminished productivity

·         Unclear expectations

Some employees cannot maintain a productive routine when working from home. Others may end up working overtime, which can lead to stress and burnout. In either case, they may lose their motivation and perform poorly in their jobs.

Given these aspects, it's essential to keep your remote team focused on long-term goals. Moreover, you need to track your employees' performance and provide continuous feedback.

How to measure performance in a hybrid workplace

Some employees find it easier to stay focused when working remotely, whereas others can fall prey to distractions and procrastination. The latter may work late, miss deadlines, or make costly mistakes. As a manager, you must address these issues before they escalate.

First, it's essential to choose the right hybrid work model for your business. Figure out what your employees want, and then consider the nature of your work and other factors, such as your industry and business size.

That said, let's take a quick look at the different hybrid work models out there:

·         At-will or flexible hybrid work models: Employees can choose where they want to work. Some companies also allow them to make their own schedule.

·         Office-first models: Employees must work onsite most of the time, but they have the freedom to do their jobs remotely once or twice per month.

·         Split-week: Employees can work from home on specific days of the week, such as Mondays and Fridays.

·         Week-by-week: This hybrid work model is popular among corporations and big companies. Certain teams, departments, or individual employees can work remotely for an entire week, while others must come to the office. The two groups will switch places every week.

·         Designated teams: Some teams or individuals work fully remotely, whereas others (e.g., waiters or factory workers) must be present onsite at all times.

For example, Spotify and SAP allow their employees to work remotely, onsite, or a combination of the two, depending on their job duties.

Once you have decided on a hybrid work model, setting clear guidelines from the start is crucial. At the same time, you need to determine how you will track employee performance. Here are some tips to help you out.

You can also read our blog - How to Measure Employee Productivity While Working Remotely.

Set clear performance expectations

This work arrangement is highly flexible and can change based on who's using it and why. But no matter how you structure it, you need to set clear rules right off the bat. Most importantly, those rules should apply to everyone.

Setting clear performance expectations is equally important. First, determine what performance looks like and how you will measure it.

For example, many companies track the number of hours employees work, but this metric isn't that relevant. Some employees can accomplish more in four or five hours than others in eight or 10 hours.

Work performance is multifaceted, and a single metric cannot provide sufficient insight. Therefore, you should identify and track multiple key performance indicators (KPIs), such as:

·         Employee engagement

·         Average response time

·         Average task completion time

·         Revenue per employee

·         Technology adoption rate

·         Employee net promoter score

·         Employee retention

·         Job satisfaction

·         Office space utilization

Each of these metrics can be further broken down into several KPIs. For instance, employee well-being, retention rates, and net promoter scores can help you measure engagement rates.

Go one step further and set KPIs for each team and department. The KPIs for marketing teams will look different than those for sales or HR teams.

Focus on results, not activities

Being a successful business owner often requires a shift in mentality, especially when managing remote or hybrid teams. Most companies have standard processes, but things change in a hybrid work setting.

Let's say you usually ask employees to attend daily check-ins or morning meetings. This practice may work in an office environment, but it's not ideal for hybrid teams.

For example, some employees prefer to start work around 10 a.m., take the afternoon off, and resume their activities later in the day. You'll disrupt their routine if you expect them to attend video meetings every morning at 8 a.m.. As a result, they may not be able to leverage their peak productivity hours and get things done.

A better way to track and improve employee performance is to focus on results. Try to build an outcome-driven culture rather than obsessing over processes. Set goals, not tasks, and then define the KPIs needed to measure those goals.

Conduct regular performance reviews

Regular performance reviews can be an excellent opportunity to discuss achievements and give constructive feedback. This practice helps employees understand how their work fits into the bigger picture, where their strengths lie, and what they could do better.

Through performance reviews, managers can identify areas where their team struggles. Plus, they can recognize and reward top performers, which may lead to increased team morale and job satisfaction.

Before getting started, determine how you want to implement this approach. Ask yourself the following questions:

·         Do you prefer to conduct regular performance reviews online or in person?

·         How do you plan to collect feedback?

·         How often will you conduct performance reviews?

·         How are you going to reward good work?

·         What do you want to achieve with each meeting?

Review employee performance data, notes, and any insights from customers or suppliers before each meeting. For best results, share the agenda with your team members beforehand so they can come prepared, reflect on their performance, and discuss their concerns.

Most importantly, encourage two-way communication. Create a safe and open environment where employees can share their perspectives and provide feedback. Seek their input, listen actively, and address any questions they may have.

Leverage technology to assess your employees' performance

Any organization, big or small, can leverage technology to assess and improve employee performance. BambooHR, Lattice, Culture Amp, Paylocity, and other software programs have all sorts of features for goal setting, performance tracking, and feedback collection. These systems centralize performance-related data, offering actionable insights into how your employees spend their work time.

Another option is using employee feedback and survey tools like Trakstar, Leapsome, SurveySparrow, SurveyMonkey or their alternatives, or Officevibe. These tools can reveal how your employees think and feel about their jobs, what motivates them, and what challenges they face. Such insights may be useful during performance reviews, meetings, and daily check-ins.

Depending on your needs, you may also resort to KPI dashboards, time-tracking apps, performance review software, or learning management systems. For example, KPI dashboards enable managers to track employee progress in real-time, identify trends, set benchmarks, and monitor performance against goals.

Check on your people regularly

Hybrid work isn't for everyone. Some employees feel isolated when working from home, which can affect their performance and motivation. Others have a hard time communicating with their colleagues or don't understand what's expected of them.

Things are even harder for people who work fully remotely. If, say, you plan to start a dropshipping business from home, expect to spend a lot of time indoors. Market research, advertising, customer outreach, and other activities require screen time, limiting social interactions with family and friends. This can lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation.

The same can happen to your employees, and there's not much they can do about it. Your role as a manager is to check on them regularly to ensure they feel seen and valued.

Set time aside for daily check-ins, team-building activities, and virtual break rooms. These interactions can help employees feel more connected with one another, leading to improved mental well-being and higher engagement. As a result, they'll have a sense of belonging and perform better in their roles.

Build a hybrid team that gets results

Building and managing hybrid teams isn't always easy, especially for companies with a large workforce. Even if you only have a few employees, you still need to track their performance and help them adapt to the "new normal."

The key to making the hybrid model work for your business is to constantly refine your approach. Keep an open mind, gather continuous feedback, and identify areas for improvement. Be clear about your expectations and focus on results, not processes.

Check on your people and listen to what they have to say. Provide them with the tools they need to do their best work, and make sure no one falls through the cracks. Keep an eye on their progress, but give them enough space to express themselves and think outside the box.