Hybrid and Remote Team Management Through Revised Performance Evaluations


The COVID-19 pandemic has made leaders realize the importance of effective strategies for managing hybrid and remote teams in the future of work. Traditional performance evaluation methods, such as quarterly or annual reviews heavily reliant on in-office presence, will no longer be applicable. Instead, organizations that want to thrive post-pandemic are shifting towards frequent, systematic, and concise reviews that focus on task performance, feedback, coaching, and decision-making guidance. Successful leaders need to adopt the best practices for managing hybrid and fully-remote teams after the pandemic. These best practices are based on extensive research and interviews with 61 leaders from 12 organizations that I've assisted in establishing their strategies for returning to the office and redefining their post-pandemic mode of collaboration. 

Hybrid and fully remote work will become the new norm post-pandemic for employees whose job roles allow them to perform some or all of their work remotely. During the pandemic, surveys indicate that two-thirds of US workers worked remotely, with over half of them working full-time remotely. As the pandemic winds down, two-thirds to three-quarters of surveyed employers plan to adopt a mainly hybrid work schedule. Companies such as Citigroup, Ford, Microsoft, Siemens, Salesforce, and Target have announced plans to switch to a permanent hybrid model, with two to four days of remote work after the pandemic. Some big companies, such as Nationwide, Facebook, and Novartis, have even allowed many or all of their currently-remote employees to work from home permanently. This combination of hybrid and fully-remote work aligns with employee desires, as surveys show that two-thirds of employees prefer a hybrid schedule permanently after the pandemic, while a quarter prefers a fully-remote schedule. Companies that opt for a primarily hybrid model may still allow a significant minority of their workforce to work full-time remotely. While the majority of employees who can work remotely will likely work most of their hours at home, it remains to be seen how their performance will be measured in this new work environment.

Many companies still use "time in the office" to measure employee performance, even with remote work. This focus on hours worked can lead to employees feeling pressured to work longer hours, affecting their work/life balance and mental health. Instead, companies should measure the contribution employees make to the company's profitability. 

Regular performance evaluations should be conducted, shifting the focus away from hours worked to employee productivity. Evaluations should measure performance on individual tasks and collaborative projects, including work in temporary cross-functional teams and ad-hoc committees. 

Weekly or bi-weekly evaluations by team leaders can be implemented, with occasional 360-degree evaluations by colleagues and other stakeholders. Employees should submit a concise report 24 hours before the meeting, highlighting their top three accomplishments, challenges encountered, efforts to improve, and plans for the following week. 

These brief check-in meetings should take place in person or virtually, depending on the employee's work situation. A numerical self-evaluation of their performance for the week should also be included to provide a comprehensive evaluation of employee productivity.

In order to effectively evaluate the performance of hybrid and remote employees, a new system for performance evaluation has been developed. This system involves the supervisor providing a written report comparing the employee's accomplishments for the week against the plan from the previous week, evaluating how they addressed challenges from previous weeks and new ones that arose during the current week, assessing their professional growth against previously set goals, and approving or suggesting revisions to the employee's plans for the next week. During the check-in meeting, the supervisor discusses any clarifications needed regarding the report and coaches the employee on improving their ability to accomplish goals, address challenges, make good decisions, cultivate relationships, and grow professionally. 

An important part of this system is the rating given by the supervisor, which makes up a significant portion of the employee's quarterly performance report. Team evaluations make up a smaller portion, and the supervisor also gives an overall score for the quarter. This system provides clarity for employees on how they are performing and what they need to do to improve. It also helps to catch and address problems early on rather than waiting until the quarterly review. 

The old style of performance evaluation simply doesn't work for hybrid and remote teams, and leaders need to adopt new, research-based best practices to ensure employee productivity remains high. It is important to evaluate how well this system functions for your context over time and adapt it accordingly.

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