If you, your managers or your team were unsure how to introduce a hybrid work environment, you too have experienced the great hybrid confusion. […]
When COVID-19 hit, IT departments had to adapt their internal processes and procedures, logistics and security policies, while at the same time supporting the rest of the company in the transition to a full home working environment. To make the already difficult situation even more complicated, the “Big wave of dismissals” was added, in which many employees, especially the high-birth cohorts, decided not to return to their jobs.
For the IT department, the situation is doubly complicated. For years, IT managers have been competing in the “War for Talent” to hire the right employees with the right skills and experience at the right time. Many of the employees who decided to retire early during the great wave of layoffs worked with legacy technologies such as Microsoft ASP pages, PowerBuilder and other platforms, which were state–of-the-art marvels in their time, but over time have become technical debts in our data centers – and for which it is known that it is difficult to hire employees.
While moving home has been forced by municipal regulations and the fear of a spreading pandemic, returning to the office, full virtualization or hybridization is based on a management decision. And this turns out to be much more complex than moving home in 2020 – hence the big hybrid confusion.
Here are five tips that will help you successfully run a hybrid IT organization.
Use “time zone banding” as a hiring strategy
As soon as the decision has been made for a completely virtual or hybrid employment model, the question arises as to where you should accommodate your virtual employees. Of course, it is ideal if you live near your company headquarters, so that you can come to the office if necessary or according to a predefined schedule, for example, every Tuesday or once a month for a meeting with the entire staff.
The next best option is the concept of “time zone banding”. If you hire employees who live in a time zone around your office and do not come from all over the world, the time zone-related logistics will be eliminated and you will be able to hire the best employees, since everyone works on the first shift.
For example, if you live in Chicago, IL, where Central Standard Time (CST) applies, if you go east or west only one time zone, you can hire employees in almost all parts of the United States and from the north of Canada to the southern tip of South America, and they all work at the same working hours.
Use IT as a virtual technology test field
Hundreds of millions of dollars are currently being invested in new and exciting virtual technology products for use in an office environment. The use of the internal IT team as a tester for these new technologies allows the IT department,:
- to act as an internal thought leader in the use of state-of-the-art office communication, collaboration and productivity tools
- increase your own internal efficiency and effectiveness
- to better support these technologies when they are introduced in the rest of the company, as the IT department can assess the technology from the user’s point of view
Avoid a dichotomy between the culture of home and office teams
We speak of a split culture between home and office workplaces when the employees who work in the office have a different culture and a different working feeling than those who work from home. This divided culture can evoke in the organization a feeling of “we” against “they” or of “have” and “do not have”.
For example, employees who work only in the office may be annoyed by the fact that they cannot work from home. Conversely, those who work from home may be annoyed by the fact that the employees who work in the office get all the good projects, are more likely to be promoted and are less at risk of layoffs.
Whether these sensations are true or false is almost irrelevant. In this type of situation, perception is just as dangerous as reality.
Adapt leadership practices to the hybrid workplace
The leadership of a hybrid team is based on the same best practices and concepts that you use in direct contact, but you have to be much more strategic, tactical and conscious in the execution.
Successful leaders develop processes over time for conducting meetings, delegating tasks, motivating employees, etc. The trick for you as an IT leader is to list each of your successfully developed best practices and analyze how they can be modified to work in your hybrid environment.
Define clear rules of the game
A decision related to hybrid systems or a well-intentioned favor granted by a supervisor to an employee can inadvertently set a precedent. As an IT manager, your guidelines for hybrid employees must be clearly defined and leave as little room for interpretation as possible, and they must also be applied uniformly by all IT managers.
*Eric Bloom is the Executive Director of the IT Management and Leadership Institute, the umbrella organization of the ITMLP (IT Management and Leadership Professional) and ITMLE (IT Management and Leadership Executive) certifications, and a leading provider of training in the areas of IT leadership, interpersonal communication and business skills.