Blog Article

Best Practices for Remote and Hybrid Employee Management

Manager talking to remote team

At this point in 2024, 51% of employers with office space have embarked on their Return to Office (RTO) journey, but it’s been a bit of a rocky road for many organizations. The pandemic upended the expectations of a work environment, and many employees favor the flexibility of working at least some days remotely. 

As a result, 54% of people in remote-capable jobs are hybrid in the US according to Gallup. This flexibility is great for workers, but if you’re a manager of a fully remote or hybrid team, you’re liking facing some unexpected hiccups and challenges. We’re here to help you navigate them! Here are 8 updated best practices for managing hybrid and remote teams in 2024. 

1. Set clear expectations

When managing a team – regardless of whether it’s entirely remote, in-person, or hybrid – make sure everyone understands what they are expected to deliver on and when. 

Some jobs lend themselves to more discrete measures of productivity, like a number of calls or data entered, while other roles have more nebulous output that changes day to day. 

Communicate with each person what they are expected to accomplish on a time scale that makes the most sense for their role. Daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly goals are great framing devices that allow people to set reasonable objectives and make it easy for you to confirm that everyone is on-track. 

2. Create opportunities for connection

One major complaint that many remote employees echo is that they miss the in-person interaction of the office. For many of us, our careers began with in-person work, and the abrupt jump to remote work left the more extroverted among us missing the social engagement of the office.

When scheduling in-office days, make it a goal to have as much overlap between employees coming into the office as possible. Designated onsite days allow for shared lunches, water cooler conversations, and coffee runs that feel almost nostalgic these days. 

For employees who are fully remote (and potentially missing out on these in-office experiences), consider adding some virtual events to the company social calendar. 

These should be events that encourage fun and person-to-person connection. Virtual game nights, happy hours, and book clubs are a great way to get people together and foster a sense of community and connection for your team. 

Another way to facilitate connection is to have an annual on-site meet up that allows your team to get together face-to-face, participate in team-building exercises, and learn how to best work together.

Even though these events aren’t always specifically work-related, they lead to benefits for remote and hybrid teams, like increased inter-team communication, collaboration, and innovation. 

3. Keep the lines of communication clear

A critical component of healthy and productive teams is open communication. Feeling safe to express concerns, discuss potential issues, and have open conversations about important projects and working relationships is crucial to creating a highly functional team. 

With blended teams of remote and hybrid workers, ensure that everyone has access to the same information to reduce siloing or disparity between those who spend time in the office and those who don’t. 

Monday kick-off meetings and end-of-week wrap-ups are a great way to make sure every member of your team is on the same page and that everyone’s priorities for the week are aligned. A dedicated channel in your communication tool (like Slack or Teams) for the week’s objectives and updates is a good way to keep all important information in one place and easily reviewed if necessary.

4. Foster professional growth 

Encouraging professional development is a great way to keep members of your team engaged in the work that they do. As a manager, providing access to training – either through virtual mentorship programs, online certifications, or in-person sessions – allows for hybrid and remote employees to gain valuable skills and confidence in their abilities. 

Aim for personalized training opportunities that are tailored to the ambitions of each of your reports. The quality of an employee’s direct manager makes or breaks their experience at an organization, so listening to and helping your coworkers achieve their goals makes a huge difference.

5. Focus on team cohesion 

How well your team works together has a direct impact on your team’s performance, both collectively and individually. And when a team just clicks, the result is nothing short of amazing. Fortunately, building great teams doesn’t rely on luck or magic – there’s a science behind it.  

Regardless of whether a team member is hybrid or remote, working together effectively enables everyone to do their job to the best of their ability. Tools like Criteria’s post-hire Talent Insights allow you to create, manage, and cultivate high performing teams with objective insights based on each team member’s personality. 

Once you understand each member of your team, you can adjust and dial in on the best way for your team to work together, improving collaboration through mutual understanding and trust. 

6. Check in frequently with team members 

Schedule weekly 1:1 with each of your reports to give everyone an opportunity to talk about what they’ve got on their plate, voice concerns, and keep an eye out for signs of burnout. 

These meetings don’t need to be long to be effective. Because you don't see your direct reports each day, you’re not able to pick up as easily on changes in their body language, engagement, or how they are handling their workload. 

For example, when managing remote employees, you aren’t able to see if they are skipping their lunch break to get work done. Many remote workers, especially those who are fully remote, feel pressure to be hyper-productive because they fear their efforts will go unnoticed since their managers can’t physically see them. This can lead to employees taking on too much, resulting in poor work-life balance, burnout, or team malaise. 

A quick weekly touch-base meeting with each of your reports can help you keep an honest dialogue going to support a positive work environment while ensuring all necessary work is getting done. 

7. Build and maintain trust within your team 

Early on in the pandemic, many higher-ups had their reservations about remote work. One major concern was that employees would be off-task and shirk their responsibilities without direct oversight. 

But the switch to remote work during COVID-19 proved that theory wrong: remote employees were actually 47% more productive working from home than they were in the office. At its core, this misplaced fear about productivity was a lack of trust.

Once you’ve set expectations, trust that your team will get their work done. And as long as you’ve carved out channels for frequent and honest communication, your team has the tools to let you know if they’re experiencing issues with their workload. 

Build trust with your reports by listening to concerns, asking for feedback, and avoid micromanaging their day-to-day (plus, micromanaging is a lot of work – and you’ve got enough on your plate already!). Treating your reports with this level of respect builds confidence in you as a leader. 

This mutual trust – yours in their ability to get their job done and do it well, and theirs in your capacity to guide the team as a whole – increases in tandem. Similar to respect, trust is most easily earned when it is given. 

8. Recognize achievement regularly

Working in a hybrid or fully remote environment has cut down on some of the opportunities for meaningful recognition. As a manager of remote and hybrid employees, it’s fallen to you to find ways to acknowledge the accomplishments of your team. 

Fortunately, creating a regular cadence to pat your team members on the back isn’t a big hurdle. You can:

  • Use a part of your weekly team wrap-up meetings to shout out small wins.
  • Work with other department managers to create a quarterly recognition program.
  • Celebrate big team wins with social celebration (like going out to lunch together on an in-office work day, or using meal delivery gift cards for a team lunch if your team is entirely remote).
  • Make a private calendar to remind yourself of work anniversaries, birthdays, and other major milestones worth celebrating. 

Your objective is to reward stellar performance with both sincere private praise, public acknowledgement, and potentially tangible benefits (like gift cards, specialty swag, extra PTO days, or monetary compensation if applicable). 

Taking the time and making the effort to recognize wins both big and small helps your team feel that their efforts are valuable, keeps them motivated to succeed, and helps to prevent burnout. 

You are the glue that keeps your team together

As the manager of hybrid and remote employees, you’re responsible for so much. Between orchestrating your team’s projects and day-to-day priorities, nurturing each report on an individual level, and encouraging healthy work-life balance, plus the responsibilities of your role outside of people management, it’s no easy feat to be a good manager. 

We hope these 8 best practices for managing remote and hybrid teams make your job a little easier and help you lead a productive and thriving team. 

Related Articles

  • Manager sits at head of table talking to his coworkers

    The Benefits of Investing in Employee Development

    Read More
  • title

    How to Reduce Involuntary Turnover

    Read More
  • Workforce alignment makes a positive impact

    Why Workplace Alignment Matters

    Read More