Three Ways to Prevent a Toxic Hybrid Work Environment

Blakney_prevent toxic hybrid environment February 28, 2022 By: Ray Blakney

Everyone is learning how to navigate a hybrid work environment on the fly. It’s important to make sure no one feels left out in either situation—remote or in person. Here are three simple ways to make it work.

Whether you adopted a hybrid work environment during the pandemic or you have always had one, it’s clear now that it has many benefits. There is, for starters, a lot of flexibility that can translate into higher employee morale. However, because you don’t see and talk to all your employees face to face each day, how do you know that your workplace is free of toxicity that reduces employee morale and increases turnover?

Here are three steps to prevent toxicity in your own hybrid workplace.

Get Employee Input Before Making Business Changes 

In a hybrid work environment, it can be easy for leaders to only ask in-office employees for their opinions on potential organizational changes. This is because it can be quicker for them to just pop by their team members’ cubicles, rather than also set up phone calls or video conferences with remote staff members. They may also be dealing with Zoom burnout from the many video calls they do to keep their business moving forward. 

A hybrid work environment can quickly turn toxic if remote employees think their input is not being considered in organizational changes that also affect them. They may start to resent their team leaders for only considering their in-office counterparts’ input.

Make it a priority to always ask each of your team members for their suggestions and opinions regarding all business changes that affect them. This will help each of your employees feel valued and like they are a part of an organization that is free of hierarchy regarding the importance of in-office and remote employees. This will also help to improve your entire team’s collaboration and communication.

Improve Remote Employee Accountability

In a hybrid situation, you may not always know exactly what your remote employees are working on, as you don’t see them face to face. The business environment could turn toxic if remote employees don’t contribute their fair share on team projects or can’t be reached when deadlines are looming. These situations could cause your in-office team members to resent their remote coworkers and question why they are a part of a team that lacks cohesion. It might even cause them to look for other employment options.

Make it a priority to always ask each of your team members for their suggestions and opinions regarding all business changes that affect them.

That means it’s essential to improve the accountability of your remote employees. To do this, conduct quick, weekly check-ins with your entire team. Whether it’s via a phone call or video conference, ask both your remote and in-office team members for status updates on projects, if there is anything they would like changed, and about their future initiatives. This will help your entire team always know what they need to focus on so they can hold themselves accountable.

Prevent Narcissistic Leadership

Narcissistic leadership can hurt a business’s overall culture, especially in a hybrid work environment where it already takes more effort to help in-office employees connect with their remote counterparts and optimize team synergy. Narcissistic leaders typically think that they have the best ideas for projects and are not open to feedback or constructive criticism.

This can cause the team members to feel like their voices are not being heard and their opinions are not valued, which can lower work morale and make them want to consider looking for other jobs. Employees might also stop sharing their ideas on how to solve work problems, which can inhibit the organization’s ability to innovate.

To determine if your organization has any narcissistic leaders, ask your employees if they feel like their input matters and their voices are being heard. You can also implement an employee suggestion box to allow team members to anonymously share any concerns about their managers, projects, and more. Your team members will appreciate the efforts to ensure they are having the best work experience possible.

As the leader of a hybrid organization, it is critical to ensure that your workplace is free of toxicity that can hurt its overall culture. Taking the steps previously mentioned will help ensure your hybrid work environment is positive and healthy for your entire team. 

Ray Blakney

Ray Blakney is CEO and cofounder of Live Lingua, an online language learning platform in Boston.