There are many benefits to a hybrid workplace, but it also comes with new challenges for managers and HR professionals. One of the more complex challenges is managing potential friction between onsite and remote employees.
Onsite and remote employees face different work experiences, environments, and stressors. When they work together, these differences can lead to tension or conflict. Fortunately, there are many ways to keep your hybrid team united.
Before you jump into addressing any conflict, it’s important to understand both perspectives. By stepping into your employees’ shoes, you can create strategies and solutions that truly address their needs. Let’s take a closer look at some of the challenges for remote and onsite employees.
What challenges are remote employees facing?
- Isolation: It is common for remote employees to feel isolated from their team and manager. They are missing out on opportunities for connection, like chatting in the breakroom or popping over to a colleague’s workspace. Because of this, they may feel like they don’t really belong on the team.
- Work/Life Balance: Remote workers may have more difficulty balancing work and life. When a home also acts as an office, work time and personal time can easily blur. For employees who don’t take time to unplug from work, it can have a big impact on their well-being.
- Proximity Bias: Their work and career may be affected by proximity bias. This is based on misconceptions that remote workers are not as productive or dedicated. Employees who are physically in the office (or in close proximity to a manager) are sometimes considered first for promotions, interesting projects, or recognition. A recent survey found that nearly half of Canadian employees worry that onsite workers will have more opportunities for engagement and career growth.
What challenges are onsite employees facing?
- Greater risk of exposure: Frontline workers, many of whom have been working onsite since the start of the pandemic, have a greater risk of exposure. There is also the added challenge of customers or other colleagues ignoring health and safety measures.
- Additional health and safety duties: Depending on their role, some onsite workers may be tasked with additional health and safety duties. On top of their regular work, they now must learn how to handle new responsibilities like checking vaccine passports and protecting personal information.
- Less flexibility than other workers: Remote workers often have less flexibility in their work schedule compared to remote workers. Nearly one third of Canadians surveyed said flexible working hours are a top priority. It’s easy to see how resentment could form when manufacturing workers, frontline customer service staff, transit operators, healthcare providers, and other essential workers find themselves with fewer flexible options than their office-working counterparts.
Bridging the divide between remote and onsite
Remote and onsite employees face different challenges, but they both want the same outcome: a fair working environment. When perceived disadvantages or favouritism go unaddressed, they can cause tension and conflict, threaten working relationships, and even lead to a toxic workplace environment.
However, with the right strategies and policies, there are many ways to reduce friction and help your hybrid teams collaborate smoothly. To get started, download our FREE Guide to Managing Hybrid Teams! This guide includes essential strategies and expert tips on reducing and managing conflict between onsite and remote workers so you can create a happy and harmonious hybrid work environment.