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How your nonprofit can shift to a hybrid work environment

January 09, 2021
A woman working in a nonprofit hybrid work environment sits on her home's floor with her laptop.

Over the past few years, new technologies have facilitated the rise of hybrid and fully remote workplaces. Just like there are benefits to holding virtual fundraising events, there are numerous benefits of having a remote component in your nonprofit organization’s workplace, such as saved overhead costs and flexibility for your employees. However, face-to-face interaction in the office helps your employees work together to become a true team. 

Given the advantages and drawbacks of remote work, your nonprofit might decide to shift to a hybrid format. If that’s the case, ensure that you follow these tips to have a smooth transition into a hybrid workspace. 

Tip 1:  Create and share your hybrid workplace plan.

A recent McKinsey study on workplace burnout found that the one thing that fatigued employees have in common is leaders who aren’t specific about the future of hybrid work. To preserve interpersonal relationships with colleagues and work performance, create a plan for your hybrid work structure with input from staff. Your plan should include elements like:

  • Which days will be spent in person versus online.
  • Who’s expected to be in person or online on certain days.
  • Which activities should happen in-person versus online, such as team meetings.
  • How long this arrangement will last.
  • When the new model will be implemented.

Once your plan is done, share it with your entire team so that everyone’s on the same page. You can also provide hybrid workplace training for your staff to set your expectations and ensure a smooth transition.

Tip 2: Integrate inclusion into your technology policy.

In a hybrid workplace, digital inclusion is paramount. This means ensuring everyone in the organization has access to the tools and information needed to fully contribute to your goals. For example, in meetings, this means everyone is able to fully participate regardless of the technology they own. Thus, if not all of your team members have access to the same technology, your nonprofit should consider reallocating some money in your budget to provide supplies such as:

  • Laptops
  • Tablets and styluses
  • Work phones
  • Headsets
  • External microphones

Providing equal access to technology allows your team to stay in touch with each other, no matter if they’re in the office, at home, or across the country from each other. You want your staff to, ideally, be able to work virtually just as effectively as they would work in the office. Make sure you provide the technology that allows them to do that, keeping your nonprofit’s day-to-day smooth and efficient.

Tip 3:  Be digitally fluid.

Digital fluidity is all about the ability to work effectively when your team is in a mix of virtual and in-person environments. You may have some of your team in the office together and others working from home, so you and your staff must become fluent in both synchronous and asynchronous work styles.

Working synchronously by meeting up with employees can allow more rapid exchanges of ideas, lessen misunderstandings, and help with building interpersonal relationships. The downside is an overreliance on this style can lead to Zoom fatigue and being less productive overall.

On the other hand, working asynchronously allows everyone to contribute on their own time while still getting the work done. For example, working as a team on a large report using a tool such as Google Docs allows each person to work on it at different times.

Knowing when which work style works best for you and your team and when you need to switch things up is critical to having a healthy, hybrid workplace culture. Ask your coworkers whether they’d prefer an asynchronous or synchronous work style when in the office and at home. Then, implement the changes that make the most sense and measure your productivity and work quality. If you need to make changes down the line based on the nature of your nonprofit’s work and your employees’ preferences, adjust your approach until you find the best fit.

Making a hybrid work environment work for your nonprofit

Though remote and in-person work structures have their challenges, a hybrid style can likely provide your nonprofit with the best of both worlds. As long as your nonprofit stays flexible, transparent, inclusive, and communicative, you can make all of the best aspects of the hybrid format work for you.

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  • Nonprofits