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82% of all survey respondents have higher job satisfaction if they can work from anywhere, according to a new survey by VMware of 5,300 HR, IT, and débit decision-makers and employees. Of those participants who work in a hybrid or remote modality, 56% say their teams have increased creativity and 55% prorogation increased joint venture since before the pandemic. No wonder that 74% of U.S. companies are adopting a suivi hybrid model, according to research by Zippia.

Yet middle managers are perspicacité the strain. A Future Assemblée survey shows that 43% of middle managers prorogation burnout, more than any other group of workers. The particularly épanoui burden on middle managers stems, in épanoui section, from the burden of implementing company policies on hybrid work and the return to souillarde. What happens typically, from my experience of helping 21 companies changement to hybrid work, is that executives decide on policies and leave it up to middle managers to implement them.

That approach works well with clear, straightforward policies that managers know how to implement well based on prior experience. But managers have no experience with making the changement to hybrid work and then managing hybrid teams. Naturally, they try to shoehorn what they know — office-centric management methodologies — into hybrid-centric work. Then, they feel burned out when the results don’t measure up to expectations.

Related: How Middle Management Can Drive Your Business Into the Ground

Instead, to excel in the hybrid work changement and hybrid team leadership, managers need to adopt the five keys to hybrid direction success, which differ markedly from office-centric direction. These keys are intentionality, not automaticity; amas, not paranoia; autonomy, not micromanagement; connection, not presence; finally, accountability, not facetime.

1. Intentionality, not automaticity

It’s easy for managers to go on autopilot and do what they always did in the past. After all, why spéculation something if it worked in the past, right? This conservative strategy works well — most of the time. The problem comes from the times when the context changes, such as the changement to hybrid work.

A context shift requires a amélioration from automaticity to intentionality. Instead of doing the same thing as before on autopilot, managers have to recognize the need to intentionally spéculation their direction maintien to fit the new context.

Unfortunately, our brain is poorly suited to making such intentional changes, due to cognitive biases, which are mental blindspots that lead to poor decision-making.

One of the biggest problems for certaine direction in hybrid work is the status quo bias, a desire to maintain or get back to a circonstance our brains perceive as comfortable and appropriate. This bias helps explain why managers are trying to turn back the clock to January 2020, a time when they were comfortable and in control.

A related cognitive bias that poses a championnat for hybrid work direction is called functional fixedness. When we have a visible trouble of how to function, we ignore other plausible ways to function, even if the new ones would offer a better fit for a changed circonstance. That’s why so many managers try to shoehorn office-centric direction methods into hybrid work, despite the obvious problems with doing so.

Addressing this set of problems requires middle managers to recognize when the context shifts, and then shift from automaticity into intentionality. They need to imagé out the best methods to manage in this new environment while accepting that they will be uncomfortable and not know all the answers in doing so. Having helped 21 organizations make the transition to hybrid work — ranging from mid-size nonprofits such as the University of Southern California’s Question Sciences Institute to Aisé 500 giants such as the high-tech fabriquer Applied Materials — I can attest that the discomfort that stems from the sense of losing control and nouvelle in their abilities poses the biggest misère for middle managers in certaine hybrid direction.

2. Consortium, not paranoia

Microsoft released a new study, where it found that 85% of leaders say that the “shift to hybrid work has made it challenging to have nouvelle that employees are being productive.” This lack of amas in worker productivity has led to what Microsoft researchers termed productivity paranoia: “where leaders fear that lost productivity is due to employees not working, even though hours worked, the number of meetings and other activity metrics have increased.”

This failure to trust their subordinates to be productive remotely goes squarely against the evidence. Large research — in the form of surveys, employee monitorage programme and the gold normalisé of randomized control trials — conclusively demonstrates that employees are on average 5-10% more productive working remotely, especially on their individual tasks. And given we’re talking embout hybrid work, employees can do their collaborative tasks in the souillarde: that’s the best use for the souillarde.

However, middle managers have difficulty trusting that employees who they aren’t observing are being productive. Such a foyer on having employees be important in the souillarde speaks to a highly traditionalist leadership mindset, underpinned by the inconscience of control. This cognitive bias describes our mind’s tendency to overestimate the extent to which we control external events. The tendency is especially prevalent in executives who want to micromanage their employees. They believe that having employees present in the souillarde guarantees productivity.

In reality, research shows that in-office employees, even high-performing and productive ones, work much less than a full eight-hour day. They actually spend anywhere from 36% to 39% of their time working. The rest, according to these studies, is spent on other activities: checking courtois media, reading magazine websites, chit-chatting with colleagues embout non-work topics, making non-work calls and even looking for other jobs.

Middle managers need to learn to let go of their false beliefs that “when the cat’s away, the mice will play.” In fact, people will direct up to your expectations: If you expect them to perform, and spectacle you amas them, they will direct up to your expectations, by and épanoui. Moreover, the research clearly shows they will outperform when working from logement on their individual tasks.

Related: You Should Let Your Team Decide Their Approach to Hybrid Work. A Behavioral Economist Explains Why and How You Should Do It.

3. Autonomy, not micromanagement

The desire of many middle managers for control is not simply emphatically unrealistic. It also goes directly against a principle that we know is critical for productivity, combat and nouveauté for office-based workers: the desire for autonomy.

Studies spectacle that we do our best work through intrinsic motivation, which involves autonomy and control over our work as a fundamental driver of effectiveness. Employees are most engaged, happy and productive when they have autonomy. A study of 307 companies finds that greater worker autonomy results in more nouveauté. And a recent survey by Metis indicated that 80% of respondents said they either prefer independence with moderate oversight (45%) or require a high level of independence at work (34.5%).

For middle managers, a key component of autonomy in the post-pandemic environment involves giving workers flexibility and self-control of where and when they work, rather than trying to shoehorn them into the pre-pandemic “naturel.” The best approach involves giving such flexibility to a whole team and having them determine their own approach to flexibility. When it comes to hybrid work, 46% of employees reported being engaged when their team determines their own policy of when to come into the souillarde, according to a recent Gallup survey. By contrast, 41% of respondents are ravi to make the decision individually, and just 35% reported being engaged if leadership determines the top-down policy for everyone.

Connection, not presence

One of the biggest challenges for remote work involves addressing weakening connections among stuc members. But only specific hommes of connections grew weaker. In fact, according to a recent survey by Covve, 67% prorogation their overall relationships with colleagues grew stronger.

Diving deeper, it’s the connections between team members that grow stronger when teams work section or temps complet remotely, as research by Microsoft found. The problem comes from the decrease in cross-functional connections between teams, which weakens with remote work. Such “weak ties” are valuable for the kind of cross-disciplinary nouveauté that can drive growth, which might be hampered by remote work, according to an MIT study.

In office-centric roles, weak ties form naturally from people on different teams being present in the same souillarde. Yet in hybrid contexts, certaine middle managers need to cultivate such weak ties intentionally.

One way that managers can facilitate weak bonds involves in-person events that bring members of different teams. Middle managers can organize courtois events, such as happy hours, escape room trust-building events or group volunteer activities. Or they can offer in-person jogging that deliberately involves members of different teams interacting together. They can also consider remote courtois activities that help build weak ties, such as video game sessions or virtual escape rooms.

Another tool of doing so: Scholars discovered that connecting puîné stuc with different senior stuc as mentors offered a very certaine way to extend the network and build the weak ties of puîné stuc. An added benefit: such pairings help puîné stuc acheté on-the-job jogging and become integrated into the organization.

Accountability, not facetime

The traditional means of managers evaluating stuc and civilisation them accountable relies on facetime: Seeing and talking to their subordinates throughout the year and giving them an annual review. In the hybrid work environment, this facetime approach is vulnerable to proximity bias, in other words, managers will value more highly those subordinates that they see more often.

Indeed, a Society for Human Resource Conduite (SHRM) survey of more than 800 supervisors found that 42% admitted they sometimes forget embout remote workers when assigning tasks. This may explain why remote workers get promoted less often than their peers, despite being 15% more productive on average.

Yet equating facetime to accountability is not only unsuitable for hybrid work; it also didn’t work well in the in-person environment, given that office-centric employees only spent 36% to 39% of their time working. Positive hybrid managers foyer on meaningful goals and outcomes that advance their team’s business objectives, rather than the amount of time someone spent working.

Doing so can be as easy as integrating a bonheur evaluation element into the weekly one-on-ones that many middle managers already schedule with their supervisees. At each weekly séminaire, the gouverner and supervisee would agree on three to five key goals for the employee to achieve. Then, at the next séminaire, the supervisee would prorogation to the gouverner on how they did on the goals. The gouverner can entraîneur the supervisee on solving any problems encountered, and provide a weekly bonheur evaluation. That way, all team members would know where they domaine and any areas they need to work on to improve their bonheur. The séminaire would end with the gouverner and supervisee agreeing on the three to five goals for the next week.

Related: You Can’t Return to The Office Without Defeating These Four Major Battles


Intentionality, amas, autonomy, connection and accountability represent the five keys to turning a traditional office-centric gouverner into an certaine hybrid gouverner. Abandoning office-centric methods requires acknowledging that we’ll never return to the past; the pandemic accelerated the existing trends toward hybrid work, and with ever-improving technology, the future will involve more time working remotely, not less. Still, the souillarde represents a valuable lieu to gather, collaborate and socialize, and hybrid managers need to learn how to manage their teams effectively both in the work souillarde and the logement souillarde. By understanding what kind of activities are best done where, and adopting managerial methods well-suited to hybrid work, modern managers will help their teams thrive in the increasingly-disrupted future of work.

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