With modern technological advancements in place, today’s healthcare landscape favors employing a hybrid workforce that consists of virtual and in-person staff. While this approach offers many advantages, like burnout mitigation, time and cost efficiency, and higher productivity, it can create distinctive hurdles for office managers and practice leaders.
Managing a team spread across different locations demands a strategic approach. To propel the practice forward, leaders must take specific measures when working with and managing virtual and in-person staff members. Here are the recommended actions they should and shouldn’t undertake:
Do: Establish Clear Communication Channels
Effective communication is the cornerstone of successful remote and hybrid teams. For this reason, practice leaders need to establish clear communication channels to ensure everyone is aligned. They can use various tools like email, instant messaging, video conferencing, and project management software. Moreover, practice leaders should regularly engage with their teams to promote collaboration, address concerns, and give feedback.
Don’t: Rely Solely on Email
Email is undoubtedly valuable, but relying solely on it is not advisable. Over-reliance on email can lead to misunderstandings, slow response rates, and hinder collaboration. A better alternative is to encourage the use of real-time communication platforms, which are far more effective in facilitating swift and efficient information exchange.
Do: Set Clear Expectations
Clearly define virtual and in-person team members’ roles, responsibilities, and expectations to promote accountability and productivity. By explicitly laying out guidelines and performance metrics, they can gain a clear understanding of the significance of their responsibilities and how they can effectively meet given objectives. Team members perform optimally through this approach and push the practice’s trajectory forward.
Don’t: Assume Understanding Without Confirmation
To ensure team objectives are met, it’s essential to always establish that everyone is clear on their roles and tasks. Practice leaders should avoid making assumptions. Instead, they should consistently confirm that instructions have been well received and understood. They should also encourage team members to voice their concerns and seek clarification when they are in doubt.
Do: Foster Team Bonding
Fostering camaraderie and trust is crucial for team success, regardless of each other’s physical distance. To build these essential bonds, practice leaders must consider organizing virtual team-building activities, encouraging informal conversations, and creating opportunities for employees to connect beyond work-related topics. These efforts will foster a positive team culture and enhance collaboration.
Don’t: Neglect Relationship Building
Doing away with efforts to build team relationships can lead to feelings of isolation and detachment, especially considering the significant distance between virtual team members and their in-person counterparts. For this reason, practice leaders must prioritize relationship-building to ensure a cohesive and productive team dynamic.
Do: Provide Adequate Resources
Equipping virtual and in-person team members with the right tools and support is necessary so they can thrive in their roles. To achieve this, practice leaders must invest in dependable communication platforms, project management software, and cybersecurity protocols. In addition, they must consistently assess and improve these resources to stay ahead of team members’ evolving needs.
Don’t: Overlook Technical Support
When dealing with EHR systems, adequate support is critical for maintaining productivity. Practice leaders must ensure that both virtual and in-person teams have access to technical assistance and resources to troubleshoot any issues that may arise. They must also prioritize training so team members can effectively navigate the practice’s choice of EHR system.
Do: Celebrate Achievements
Acknowledging the achievements of virtual and in-person team members is crucial to boosting morale and motivation and creating a sense of unity. In line with this, practice leaders must celebrate individual and team successes, big or small. Furthermore, they must implement a rewards and recognition system to highlight outstanding contributions.
Don’t: Neglect Feedback and Recognition
Failing to provide feedback and acknowledgment can cause work disengagement and reduced productivity among virtual and in-person teams. To avoid these negative outcomes, practice leaders should consistently offer constructive criticisms to assist team members in their growth and advancement.
Do: Foster Inclusion
To have dynamic team members, practice leaders should create a welcoming and inclusive workspace that prioritizes diversity and individual viewpoints. They must foster open and constructive communication among all team members to ensure that each voice is heard. Moreover, practice leaders should provide equal opportunities for professional development and career advancement within the organization.
Don’t: Allow Discriminatory Practices
Creating a diverse workforce is important for today’s medical practices, and any form of intentional or unintentional discrimination has no place in the workplace. To eliminate these issues, practice leaders must address any exclusionary incidents promptly. Additionally, they can also provide sensitivity training programs to promote a culture of respect and inclusivity.
Do: Encourage Continuous Learning
A successful practice requires leadership that prioritizes professional development and provides ample opportunities for skills and knowledge enhancement. To achieve this, practice leaders should offer webinars, online courses, and conferences. The organization and its people can thrive by nurturing a learning culture emphasizing personal and professional growth.
Don’t: Limit Learning Opportunities
Limiting learning opportunities hampers individual growth and stifles innovation. Practice leaders must motivate employees to discover new individual interests, skills, and competencies that can be utilized in the organization’s roles. To support continuous learning, they can offer resources and mentorship to strengthen and expand team members’ knowledge.
Do: Establish Clear Boundaries
Promoting a work-life balance for virtual and in-person team members mitigates the chances of them experiencing burnout and unproductivity. For practice leaders, it’s crucial to define work hours and availability expectations so that team members can draw a clear line between their personal and professional lives.
Don’t: Encourage Overworking
Encouraging a work culture beyond reasonable limits and ignoring personal boundaries can negatively impact employees’ productivity. To avoid this, practice leaders should encourage team members to make use of their breaks and PTOs as they can enrich their personal relationships while growing their professional lives.
Do: Lead by Example
As a practice leader, it is vital to set the tone for virtual and in-person team members by embodying the values and principles they want to see. Moreover, leading with integrity, empathy, and transparency is crucial to creating a positive and productive work environment. By exemplifying these traits, leaders can inspire their teams to follow and strive for excellence.
Don’t: Ignore Leadership Responsibilities
Effective leadership is essential in virtual and in-person team settings, and ignoring leadership responsibilities can result in a disengaged team with poor performance. For practice leaders, it is important to consistently develop and improve leadership skills while providing guidance and support to team members for their personal and professional growth.
Successfully leading a hybrid virtual and in-person staff team requires a strategic and equitable approach. By following the dos and don’ts outlined in this article, office managers and practice leaders can foster a cohesive and productive team environment. These are just a few of the key factors that contribute to a successful hybrid workforce, and by embracing these principles, organizations can leverage the strengths of virtual and in-person staff, creating a dynamic and thriving team.
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