Since the beginning of the pandemic, many organizations have successfully made the conversion to remote operations. Chief among the strategies has been a deep reliance upon communication and collaboration tools to enable synchronous team management. However, there is still a growing concern for workforce burnout as employees might be getting tired of the technology overload. This refers to the reliance upon email chains, project management systems, digital whiteboards, texts, and video conferencing solutions. Managing the mountain of incoming data and communication can create long hours of tasks, which impacts their ability to balance work and life successfully. In fact, in a recent survey, 54% of employees said they feel overworked, while 20% responded saying that they felt their employer simply doesn’t care about what they’re going through.
While many of these operational technologies are asynchronous, there may be added stress when having to build synchronous tasks into their daily schedules. Leaders need to be aware of the impact of having to attend the many synchronous meetings, town halls, webinars, and one-on-ones required to do a job.
First, let’s talk about the big picture. Are you aware of the potential talent challenges that are coming over the next year? We’re seeing a great deal of concern across the industry for what the future holds for their returning employees.
Are You Prepared for Attrition?
There is an industry-wide concern that we may be facing an exodus of talent of unprecedented proportions. According to this CNBC article, one in four workers is considering quitting their job after the pandemic. The main reasons they cite for job dissatisfaction include:
- Employers aren’t as concerned about career advancement as they are
- Their skills aren’t being properly used
- They aren’t receiving the proper training
Employees have gotten used to the benefits of remote work and have even seen a rise in productivity over the past year. What organizations may have not realized is that people prefer flexibility in their work-life balance. Commutes and minor office meetings have a significant impact on time management and overall employee satisfaction.
Employees are discovering what they want—and more importantly—what they don’t. And if their employer isn’t living up to their expectations, they’re more than likely to find work elsewhere. So as organizations may be eager to return to “life as normal,” they should be more concerned about how “normal” has changed for many returning employees.
Before employees begin returning to in-office work or hybridized alongside virtual environments, it’s best to establish a back-to-work strategy. Having alignment across the organization will ensure that the transition is smooth and that all voices are heard and concerns addressed. The key is to not force one methodology or another. Leaders need to demonstrate empathy for the needs and wants of each team member and work according to their style. This may require asynchronous leadership development and training specific to the unique needs of their team. This, too, should be part of the back-to-work strategy.
Why Employees May Favor Asynchronous Work
Many employees have discovered that communicating and collaborating is far easier when it’s done remotely. Some employees may be challenged to express opinions or ideas in face-to-face interactions and find solace in the written word. As well, it can be easier to organize digital material like updates and notes on projects when they’re in a shared digital space. This makes having to recall information or refer to documentation a simple matter of clicking on a saved link. Using a project management tool like Jira allows stakeholders to refer to project status notes, comments and questions, and all uploaded documents and finished work from a single ticket. In this case, the technology acts like a personal assistant so employees can easily access the information they need when they need it.
For some employees, using written communication and collaboration tools can have a dramatic impact on their sense of well-being. For example, this survey revealed that “workers who attend weekly status meetings actually feel worse about their sense of belonging than workers who receive status updates asynchronously.”
Asynchronous Leadership Still Requires Deep Connection
Even though working remotely is highly desired by incoming and existing employees, there is a major concern around managing toxic hybrid workplaces. This is why it’s important for leaders, learning and development teams, HR, etc. to come together and form a strategy around their back-to-work plan. Toxic workplaces are a hazard during the best of times. During a culture shift such as evolving into a hybrid workplace and asynchronous leadership, toxicity can grow undetected.
Asynchronous leadership positions leaders at the helm of this culture change. They need to be champions of the digital workplace and prioritize the feelings and concerns of their team. Having insight into their employees’ personal and professional journey will allow them to support workers over time and identify signs that an employee might be burning out, or reacting to a toxic situation.
There are many skills that can help drive asynchronous leadership towards success. Leadership development is more valuable than ever, as leaders will be called upon to operate potentially outside of their comfort zone. Even leaders need to be supported during transitions to ensure they’re able to embrace the shift to virtual management, along with confidence in using online workforce management tools.
CoreAxis has developed a number of highly engaging, instructionally sound courses that can significantly impact how your leaders will react and respond to the challenges of managing local and remote teams in a hybrid workplace. Check out CoreAcademy to learn more about the available, off-the-shelf solutions to help you identify skills gaps and respond with the most effective learning programs available. And feel free to contact us to learn more about developing custom learning solutions to address your unique asynchronous leadership challenges.