10 red flags of a toxic hybrid workplace

These are clear signs that a company isn't prepared for a healthy hybrid culture and environment, according to a new FlexJobs report.

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Sixty-eight percent of companies don't have a detailed plan for what a hybrid work environment will look like, yet nine out of 10 companies plan to move to some form of this model, according to a McKinsey report. The move to a hybrid work environment—a blend of in-person and remote workplaces—is on the rise since the pandemic proved people can be productive from home, and 83% of workers now want a hybrid workplace.

Only 32% of companies have started the conversation about the hybrid workplace, which is leading to anxiety among workers returning to in-person jobs post-pandemic, according to job site FlexJobs.

SEE: Wellness at work: How to support your team's mental health (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

The company has identified 10 red flags that it said could signal a hybrid company will become a toxic place to grow a career. 

1. There is no real plan for creating a functioning hybrid workforce within the company.

Winging it isn't an option when it comes to creating a high-functioning and fair hybrid workforce. If the company hasn't committed to a clear set of actions to integrate remote and hybrid teams, build a hybrid work culture, or treat hybrid and in-office workers inclusively, it is unlikely that this will be a healthy, equitable place to work for remote workers.

2. There are no senior leaders who work remotely.

A company that truly values remote work will have people at all levels of the company who are working remotely, including senior leaders. If only lower or mid-level career employees are allowed to work remotely and all of the senior leadership works in the office, it can be assumed that remote workers cannot progress within the company and stay remote. Be sure to examine every level of the organization to see if remote employees are found throughout the organization's hierarchy.

3. Digital communication tools have not been prioritized. 

In a hybrid or remote work environment, people can't just pop into someone's office to check on things or have impromptu conversations. This, of course, can put remote workers at a disadvantage. However, there are plenty of synchronous and asynchronous communication tools, as well as powerful collaboration tools, to help address the gaps that can occur when some people are not physically present. If management has not deployed digital tools and teams haven't been advised on how to optimize them, then they are not equipping teams for success. 

4. Celebration, praise and rewards only happen in the office. 

A big part of company culture is having celebratory activities to show appreciation for employees and make them feel valued. A red flag for a hybrid work environment is if these events are only taking place in the office and there aren't strategic efforts to make people working remotely feel included as well. Collaboration platforms make it easier to share praise and encouragement for the whole organization to see. There are also many easy events and activities that can be done virtually as well. Companies that take the time to do these are showing their commitment to the remote work environment. 

5. Your manager doesn't have a solid communication plan for remote team members.

Communication is critical to the success of hybrid teams and remote employees should be included in any meetings or activities being held at the office. It is vitally important that the remote employee and in-office manager have a clear communication plan-- who, what, when and how. If you believe your communication with your manager specifically is lacking, then there is a problem. 

6. Team- or company-wide meetings are scheduled at odd hours.

Companies that allow employees to work remotely need to consider the varying time zones where everyone is located and try to schedule important company meetings and events at a convenient time for everyone. If management is setting meetings at 5 a.m. or 8 p.m., then they clearly do not value or respect their remote employees' time or contributions.

7. Information isn't accessible.

Lack of information for remote employees is a sign of a toxic hybrid environment. If information isn't shared on a digital platform for everyone to access, there is a good chance you could be out of the loop on something important. A company that is doing hybrid work well will share information. This could be through an internal email newsletter, a company intranet, a company shared drive or some other digital platform.

8. There's not a clear career path for remote employees.

If the professional development and career paths for remote workers are less clear than for in-office workers, including promotions and raises, there's a problem. If it seems like opportunities to learn and grow within your company are reserved for in-office workers, that's a sign your hybrid workplace doesn't value remote workers or see them as part of the company's larger strategic plan. 

9. Employees are told they need to use PTO or take a pay cut to work remotely.

As some companies start to navigate their hybrid working model, they may create certain stipulations that could negatively impact those who want to work remotely, such as cutting their pay or making them use their time off. To maintain an equitable environment for all employees, companies should only cut pay for a legitimate reason such as a cost of living adjustment if employees move away from their headquarters and that should be fully explained and made transparent.

Additionally, employees shouldn't be "punished" by having to use days off because they chose to work remotely. Working remotely should count as a regular workday as if in the office. Ultimately, employers that are truly committed to the hybrid work model will not put up roadblocks that negatively impact an employee who opts to work remotely.

10. Remote workers aren't given the appropriate equipment.

With a hybrid model, companies need to consider what office equipment and technology to provide all employees, regardless of where they are working. This could be done with a home office stipend, loaning out mobile equipment or providing accommodations for employees to work at co-working spaces. A successful hybrid organization will ensure that employees everywhere have access to the technology tools and resources they need to do their jobs successfully.

A toxic workplace may not have all 10 of these red flags, FlexJobs said. Some may only have a few. Likewise, if a company has one of these red flags, that's not necessarily proof of a toxic workplace--but rather an indication that the transition to hybrid is still bumpy.

"At the very core of all successful remote and hybrid workplaces are leaders that are taking very conscientious efforts to intentionally consider and then thoughtfully build their company's work environments,'' said Sara Sutton, CEO and founder of FlexJobs, in a statement. "Job seekers and workers should be aware that hybrid workplaces can be toxic on a number of levels if they're not being carefully managed."

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