7 Tips for Balancing On-Site and Off-Site Work

Off-site work has always been a thing, even before the pandemic. Despite the similar approach, working remotely in the pre-COVID days offers different work-from-home expectations from the current times. Fast-forward today, there are additional challenges with telework amid a pandemic.

From the level of flexibility and workload of employees to the logistic concerns of companies, there is no doubt that COVID-19 transformed the future of businesses. While some failed to stand this long to survive the economic downturn, other companies emerged from the surface by adapting to the changes. Armed with timely strategy and a determined workforce, these companies quickly adjusted to continue hitting their target, whether by keeping on-site work, adapting off-site work, or implementing a hybrid work setup.

As we slowly return to normal, many businesses across various industries may shift from remote work to a hybrid work management approach. Depending on the company, some may opt to balance on-site and off-site work since it’s still not ideal to risk the health of all employees for on-site work, especially in a community with significant cases of infection.

Some employees may also have reservations about fully working back in the office due to fear of contracting the virus or personal logistic concerns. If you plan to have both remote and on-site employees, you must know the nitty-gritty concerns about this management method and learn to balance both setups. Take a look at these seven tips to help manage your hybrid workforce.

1. Assess the potential of having the hybrid approach

Before jumping into the idea of having remote and on-site employees, it’s crucial to understand your company’s potential in handling both remote and on-site. Assess your team’s preparedness by checking the whole system, per department and job.

Know the logistics needed, such as the technology, the cost it may inflict, and the nature of the specific job to see if the work functions fit the whole remote concept. It would be best to weigh the schedule flexibility and the level of autonomy you want your employees to have. You also have to think about the workers and how ready they are to work on-site. If they prefer to stay remote, see if they have the necessary tools and skill level to perform off-site.

Since you have to consider the customers, you must also assess how it may affect the customer experience. When determining your work management plan, include customer retention strategies so you can have a better view of your company’s potential to either stay fully remote or start transitioning to a hybrid workforce.

2. Build a long-term plan to support the remote setup

After completing your company evaluation, your next agenda should address the workload and business process, the employees’ support system, and context. Whether you’re creating or just refining an old strategy for remote work, you may start by addressing the employees’ return-to-work preparedness by zeroing in on their concerns and reservations about working remotely.

Implement a holistic plan considering the difficulties that remote setup may entail to your employees. Include a sound support system from a professional standpoint, such as providing training, developing fair and just policies, and providing financial aid for your employees. Moreover, since most of your workers may be parents juggling different responsibilities at home, you must also consider their situation to address or mitigate their issues.

One of the main concerns when moving to a remote setup is planning a strategic shift to the work processes. You must think of ways to divide the workload among employees: which tasks can be handled asynchronously, and which ones need to be done on-site. You might also consider hiring a virtual assistant to help you manage routine activities.

Try to also look for ways to simplify your workflow by eliminating unnecessary steps. This can involve improving your technology use by looking for the best productivity tools for more accessible communication among the team.

3. Find ways for your team to stay collaborative and in sync

Part of your assessment will include helping your team make their work-life easier, especially when some choose to work from home and others are in the office. Miscommunication is one of the challenges of hybrid work environments, so you must find ways to avoid it. When employees aren’t in the same space, it can be difficult to be on the same page.

One way to keep your team in sync is to record all meetings. Whoever is holding the meeting should send an outline to the team. By doing this, if a member deems that they don’t need to be there, they can skip the meeting. This also keeps team members who cannot attend the meeting in the loop about important updates. Recorded meetings bridge the gap between on-site and off-site workers, relieve pressure from your employees, and allow both to consume information at their own pace and time.

Your team should also utilize collaboration tools to help everybody stay on track with a project. These tools can document every decision and change made on a project to avoid confusion and foster accountability.

4. Avoid micromanaging; focus on results

Not seeing your employees work in person doesn’t mean that you have to worry about them all the time. Remember that every employee has their responsibilities, so don’t expect that they have all the time for work just because they’re at home. Others may even have to share a workspace with a family member or have children to attend to every minute. Regardless of the difficulties, it’s better to trust and avoid micromanaging them.

Trust is essential in a remote setup. Instead of meeting every day to report the progress, you can conduct short meetings once a week or when necessary. Discuss what they need to accomplish and agree on a timeline. Then, they can report their daily tasks through a project or time management tool or spreadsheet.

Remember to be empathetic and positive with your team, as some of your workers may not be working remotely by choice. Have an outcome-based approach and let your employees complete the tasks at their own pace, as long as they meet expectations.

5. Make sure that everyone receives equal opportunity

When working, ensure that you don’t build an antagonizing notion of on-site vs. off-site workers. The issue is likely to happen if your employees feel that one group has more benefits than the other or is more favored by the team leader. The on-site employees may have the upper hand regarding opportunities, especially since the manager may be working with them more frequently in person.

Even if you don’t mean it to be, on-site employees could be on the top of your mind when you delegate projects since you see them face-to-face. Since your interactions flow beyond virtual meetings, on-site workers may get insider information over informal conversations.

Despite the distinct advantage of on-site workers regarding more accessible communication and rapport, you must level off the playing field about assigning workload, the support and reward they receive from your company, and the criteria for qualifying for promotions. Be wary of showing favoritism, even if it’s unintentional. Make sure that the level of opportunity of your remote workers is equal to your on-site staff.

6. Offer opportunities for teams to form strong relationships

On-site and off-site workers may feel disconnected from each other since they’re not working on the same setup. Creating a positive and healthy workplace culture invovles fostering social connections. According to TINYpulse’s 2018 Employee Retention Report, 26% of employees are more likely to leave their job if there’s a low level of mutual respect between colleagues. To avoid losing your team members, you must maintain a positive work culture while considering the different circumstances of your team.

You can work on your company culture, whether the approach is offline or online. If the outdoor situation allows it, you can organize team-building activities in which employees can safely interact. It doesn’t have to be grand. You can invite different groups of people for happy hour in a park, bike rides, or hikes.

If most team members aren’t up for face-to-face interactions, some apps allow co-workers to bond. For example, Slack has an app that can gather employees from different departments and place them on 15–30-minute coffee dates. With this, even if the workplace is in a hybrid environment, the dates can mimic a situation wherein employees can meet up in shared areas or in the pantry to have a quick chit-chat.


7. Be aware of burnout signs

It can be very stressful for everyone to undergo a transition in the workplace. Everybody is prone to feeling exhausted and irritable. If you notice a change in a worker’s usual demeanor (i.e., they’re known to be calm but lately has a short fuse), it can be a warning sign of burnout.

For these team members, you should try to help them out. If not you, maybe a senior employee that team member is under can talk to them. Ask them if they feel overwhelmed and work together to accomplish their tasks. Face the problem in small doses to beat the feeling of being overwhelmed.

Wrapping it up

Not all employees may adapt smoothly to working remotely; others may find it hard to transition from work-from-home to on-site work due to the pandemic. Find the right balance among the workload level, the structure for communication, harmonious work culture, and opportunities for both parties.

When you and your workers have created a successful hybrid structure, you can help the company profitably move forward beyond the pandemic. Remember, this is not your decision alone; planning a hybrid setup includes asking what your employees want and knowing which setup works best for them to promote job productivity and employee satisfaction. Apply management practices to encourage your team to work better while learning valuable skills.

Valerie Taylor is a writer and book enthusiast. When she is not writing on her lifestyle blogs, she’s with her friends discussing cake recipes.

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