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Four Keys to Managing a Hybrid Workforce

As we move further into 2022, it’s becoming clearer and clearer that many of the changes to the workforce wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic are here to stay. And while some workplaces will no doubt be returning to a fully in-person model, far more will be opting for a fluid blend of in-person and remote work (in industries where this is possible). The future is a hybrid one.

A thought-provoking article in Forbes by Fusion Connect CEO Brian Crotty addresses this shift and lays out a few of the most important priorities leaders should keep in mind when managing a hybrid workforce. With employees spread out across multiple locations rather than all together on-site, more traditional management methods may become obsolete — and new approaches need to emerge in their stead. Here are four that Crotty emphasizes:

1. Communicate often.

To bridge the gaps among leaders and team members who are geographically dispersed, Crotty recommends a range of ways to enhance communication and build connection. These include hosting virtual town halls in which employees are encouraged to voice their thoughts and ideas, creating a central hub for digital content sharing, sending regular video messages to boost morale and foster company culture, and scheduling monthly all-hands meetings when everyone can come together — virtually — to stay informed and in the loop.

2. Make time to meet.

Having too many meetings can sometimes be a hindrance, but with a hybrid workforce, they’re also essential for giving team members an opportunity to see and hear from each other, even at a physical distance. Turning cameras on rather than just audio increases the sense of connection; face-to-face conversations can help keep remote employees from feeling isolated and disengaged.

3. Track efficiency with respect.

Leaders have long been hesitant to introduce remote or hybrid work because of fears that it would reduce productivity among their employees. Numerous studies over the past couple of years have shown these concerns to be unfounded. Nonetheless, if managers want to track their teams’ productivity and efficiency, that’s fine — and there are several tools out there to facilitate this — but such tracking should always be performed in a spirit of good faith, respect, and transparency, rather than one of suspicious surveillance. And remember: If remote employees are struggling to keep up, it may just be a matter of their needing better training and improved processes.

4. Consider mental health resources.

Maybe the greatest disadvantage of a remote or hybrid model is the lack of the kinds of social connections and relationships that an in-person workplace provides. Combined with the many stresses of the pandemic, this isolation can have a negative impact on team members’ mental health. That’s why it’s so vital that leaders make a meaningful investment in mental and telehealth resources for their employees. It’s up to managers, too, to check in regularly with their teams and see who may be in need of additional support or guidance.

In sum, with a new era of hybrid work suddenly upon us, businesses can get ahead of the curve by taking the right proactive steps to manage their workforces — both strategically and compassionately.

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