How to Develop Meaningful Collegial Relationships in a Hybrid Work Environment

Coronavirus pandemic restrictions may have forced businesses worldwide to embrace flexible work arrangements two years ago. But this necessity quickly became a perk when millions of employees realized what unexpected benefits they gained from remote work, like improved work/ life balance and no need to stress about commuting or traffic jams. 


On the downside remote workers need to battle an array of distractions lurking from every corner of their home office, finding it hard to disconnect from their ongoing tasks long after their work hours.


While these shortcomings are all obvious and well-known, loneliness and the feeling of isolation may be a negative side of remote work that employees face daily and that can’t be easily discerned. Thus it may not be easy to address this serious issue effectively and timely. 


Numerous surveys show that the lack of social interaction and in-person communication and collaboration can affect remote employees’ productivity and well-being, leaving them feeling invisible and cut off from the rest of the team.


Can hybrid work opportunities change this grim outlook on the workplace, connecting remote workers with the office-based teams, building meaningful relationships, and making them feel appreciated and seen?


Yes, they can if you take decisive leadership steps to provide all employees with much-needed colleague support, leading to building strong interpersonal bonds and the feeling of belonging to the team


Let Your Employees Decide When and Where They Want to Work

You should allow your employees to choose the days they want to spend at the office, syncing with colleagues that can provide much-needed support and guidance. They should also be able to schedule meetings whenever they need one. 


This level of flexibility and autonomy at work will boost your employees’ confidence and satisfaction, making them more engaged and productive in the long run. More importantly, they will get on-the-spot support from their teammates that they lacked while working fully remote.

Stop Micromanaging Them


Two years ago, when most businesses adopted the remote work model to keep their employees healthy and safe, trying to survive global health and economic crisis, most leaders wondered how to stay in sync with employees’ performance and progress. 


This is why many of them started checking in on employees frequently or hosting countless meetings in an attempt to stay on track with employees’ workflow.


This kind of micromanagement is wrong and ineffective for a couple of reasons. First, by constantly sending messages to see whether they are making progress or not, you implicitly show your employees that you don’t trust them, driving them to disengage.


Furthermore, constant interruptions and meetings will shatter employees’ focus much needed for doing meaningful work. They may need up to twenty minutes to go back to their tasks once disrupted, making them chase deadlines and feel frustrated and pressured.


If you want to stop hovering over employees’ heads, but still be on track with how they spend their time at work, try investing in employee monitoring software and get real-time insight into all your employees’ activities without disrupting their workflow. 


To learn more about the way this advanced digital tool can boost employee productivity and performance click here.

But if you want to make the most of this tool and keep your employees’ trust make sure to use it transparently and ethically.


Create Peer Support Systems For “Risky” Groups of Workers

The research finds that younger workers or those who are lower on the company ladder tend to get insufficient support at work. You can fix this issue by matching these employees with more experienced colleagues who will help them learn the ropes and fulfill their potential.


This practice can also be valuable to new employees, especially remote ones. Their mentors can help them integrate faster into new working environments, and create meaningful relationships with other coworkers.

Final Words

It’s a well-known fact that the Covid pandemic came and changed the employees’ perspective of the workplace forever. Even though remote work offers flexibility and autonomy never experienced in the office, it also brings a sense of loneliness and isolation that employees need to face and tackle. 


If you want to offer all your employees the sense of belonging and the respect they deserve, you may consider embracing a hybrid work model where your employees can combine their office hours with remote work. Hybrid work can offer you the best of both worlds by keeping the flexibility but adding much-needed social interaction and colleague support in the mix.