- As HR pros in private industry navigate evolving remote and hybrid work priorities, they may want to take a cue from the public sector. Government workers report that teleworking has improved team performance — and the key appears to be manager trust, research released Aug. 11 by Eagle Hill Consulting showed.
- Of the 1,001 workers in government agencies surveyed nationally in May, more than half say they telework, either in a fully remote (26%) or hybrid (24%) environment. Forty-six percent of the teleworkers report that team performance has improved since the beginning of the pandemic. Nearly all (92%) of the respondents believe their manager trusts them to get the job done, and this high level of trust is consistent whether the work is remote, hybrid or in person.
- Government employees do feel more pressure to perform well (64%) and prove their value (63%), the research found. But they’re also “feeling more support from their supervisors,” Eagle Hill president and CEO Melissa Jezior said in a release.
The government’s success with team performance offers a guidepost for HR pros trying to balance executive uncertainty about remote and hybrid work, employee desire to continue doing so and managers’ role in bridging the issues.
For example, a recent Foundry report found that 51% of IT and business decision-makers surveyed said remote and hybrid work raised concerns about efficient collaboration. Yet, mandating when, where and which employees “come in to collaborate” isn’t likely to work, either, a hiring expert recently told HR Dive.
The Eagle Hill findings might allay these concerns. The findings suggest that collaboration can work when there’s manager trust. That echos what Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky wrote in a global email to Airbnb’s employees earlier this year. In praising the efficient teamwork that built the company while employees worked remotely during the pandemic, he wrote: “For me, it’s simple: I trust you, and flexibility only works when you trust the people on your team,” HR Dive reported in June.
Besides trust, teamwork is strengthened by other familiar factors. For top team performance, government workers said they need clear goals and metrics, the ability to share information across the teams, and opportunities to define new ways of working together.
As to how managers can walk the line between keeping an eye on productivity and not micromanaging, the findings also provide insight. Government workers said teams function better with managers who can empathize and understand their unique needs; are clear about the team’s expectations for success; engage with the team regardless of where employees are working; provide new technologies and tools to help build relationships across the team; and provide a better understanding of their role in the organization’s goals.
The responses highlight another marker of trust: Nearly half (46%) of government employees feel motivated in performance discussions with their manager.
But remote work doesn’t work for everyone, either because employees are uncomfortable with it or the nature of the job, such as data center or factory work, doesn’t permit it. In these situations, employers have to be careful to keep collaboration and teamwork on a positive track. Where work must be done on-site, team leaders can show up to be with their associates, experts have said. And wherever employees work, leaders should ensure they have the opportunity to collaborate, create and innovate, experts stressed.