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Blog: 6 Strategies to Help Nonprofits Managing a Hybrid Workforce

6 Strategies to Help Nonprofits Managing a Hybrid Workforce

The initial shift to remote or hybrid work was a necessity for many organizations. Now that it is clear that remote work is possible for many roles, nonprofits must examine whether it is best for their organization. 

While this answer may vary across organizations, overall nonprofits may find that they can make a remote or hybrid environment work for them by structuring this approach to work. Nonprofits that are intentional in how they structure their flexible work environment will find that effectively managing a hybrid workforce can create a workplace that works for everyone. 

A hybrid workforce works for nonprofits

For job candidates, flexible and remote work opportunities provide invaluable work-life balance. With more remote opportunities available, flexibility is proving to be a deciding factor for candidates weighing options. For employers, remote positions provide access to a much wider pool of candidates. This is particularly important for employers facing labor shortages or in need of specialized skill sets. 

However, this flexible work approach carries with it concerns about decreasing productivity and drops in innovation. Research has begun to emerge to provide some clarity here. The Evolution of Working from Home, a study by Stanford’s Institute for Economic Policy Research, suggests that a hybrid environment, in which employees come into the office for two to three days each week, may provide the most productive blend of in-person and remote work. The researchers determined that workers generally saw productivity increases of about 7% with a hybrid work approach, while fully remote work tended to drive a drop in productivity of as much as 10%. 

With a hybrid work approach, employers are able to give back to employees who need work-life balance. Employers gain additional hours of productivity during time workers might have once spent commuting, among other benefits. However, these benefits are only possible when employers take the time to structure an approach to hybrid employee engagement.

Download our free guide: Managing HR for Nonprofits with a Hybrid Work Environment
Download our free guide: Managing HR for Nonprofits with a Hybrid Work Environment

Managing a hybrid workforce depends upon engagement 

Becoming more intentional around your hybrid work approach can strengthen employee engagement and productivity. Below are a few areas where nonprofits should begin evaluating their hybrid work policies.

1. Plan in-person time. Some research indicates that having individuals pick their own days for working remotely is better for the individual, but it’s not as intentional for the organization. Yet having employers require a specific number of days on-site lowers morale, according to a Gallup survey of 8,090 remote-capable U.S. employees. The Gallup survey ultimately found that 46% of hybrid employees reported being more engaged at work when their team collaboratively determined their hybrid work policy. In fact, Gallup found this to be the single most engaging hybrid work policy, despite having only 13% of employees saying their team had done this.

By having individual teams recommend a core day to meet in the office once or twice a week, it becomes easier to host the communal lunches and after-work happy hour that builds connections. To build on this engagement, nonprofits may consider hosting quarterly or even annual in-person meetings to strengthen connections across their far-flung workforces. 

2. Provide the right tools and resources. Tools like Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Google Drive, Slack, Asana, and others have been adopted broadly over the last few years. This can support collaboration between remote employees. However, effectively managing a hybrid workforce means ensuring everyone – including new hires – feels confident in navigating the platforms of choice and how to make the most of these tools. There are many options available, and onboarding around new tools or communicating new features will keep everyone at the top of their game.

3. Encourage communication and collaboration. Nonprofit HR managers should make sure everyone is clear on the most appropriate channels for reaching out to colleagues. This includes clarifying which channels and modes of communication are preferred and when certain channels may be most appropriate. 

It is also essential to note that preferred channels may vary based on remote or in-person status. For example, people may prefer email on remote work days to allow time to focus on scheduled activities. By providing a clear policy around when different modes of communication are most appropriate, managers can help prevent communication breakdowns. For example, falling back on email or apps for performance reviews leaves room for misinterpretation and misunderstanding that can prove damaging. 

4. Build trust and flexibility. When “in the zone” in the quiet of remote work, it’s tempting to push meetings or phone conversations back. However, showing up builds trust. It sends the message that time is valuable. Showing up on camera during remote meetings builds human connection and strengthens trust-based relationships. It encourages greater understanding during meetings. These meetings can be essential for building the trust that makes more teams effective. That said, it’s important to ensure meetings are productive and purposeful. Being intentional about meetings – through timing and by sending out agendas in advance that enable people to come to meetings prepared for rapid action – demonstrates value for employees’ time.

5. Establish regular check-ins. When in the office, colleagues bump into one another and connect. With hybrid work, it’s important to be intentional about when to meet. By intentionally setting up regular touchpoints, employers can strengthen connections.

6. Stay disciplined about maintaining one-on-one discussions with employees. These touchpoints send the message that “I’m putting aside time for you because I value you and am committed to your development and growth.” Setting policy to this effect is particularly valuable for ensuring less experienced managers understand the importance of these meetings in building trust.

Get support managing your hybrid workforce

With structured feedback and touchpoints, there is no reason nonprofits can’t benefit from the vast talent pool now available to them through remote work. But if you want support in structuring those touchpoints, Vault Consulting can help. We provide HR outsourcing and advisory services that addresses the unique needs of nonprofit organizations. To learn more, contact us today.