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Do you supervise hybrid workers? Learn how to do it effectively

Illustration of woman in hybrid work place sharing her time between an office and working from home remotely

Many Ontario employers are embracing the hybrid work model. As employees get used to this new way of working, supervisors must adjust how they manage their teams. “Hybrid work can take a number of different forms, which can bring new challenges for supervisors,” says Tova Larsen, Health and Safety Consultant with WSPS. “The key ways to manage them are flexibility, organization, communication, and trust.”

Hybrid work is a broad term. “Often, the term is used to describe employees who work from home on some days and work from their employer’s location on other days,” explains Tova. “However, it can also refer to someone who works primarily from home and visits other locations for employment purposes, such as client sites. It even refers to someone who travels out of town to events or client locations on a regular basis.”

When staff can be anywhere—and are no longer within eyeshot—what does it take to effectively manage them? “First, change your mindset from solely supervision to team leadership. Of course, you still need to ensure organizational policies and procedures are being followed, but your goal is to ensure that everyone is set up for success. Help your staff organize their work and troubleshoot, act as a communication hub for your team, and help them build purpose and connection in their work.”

Tova offers these ten tips for effectively supervising a hybrid team.

10 tips to successfully supervise a hybrid team

  1. Different hazards, different locations. First, know that you can’t properly supervise higher-hazard tasks from a distance. For example, when tasks involve dangerous machines, toxic chemicals, or heavy lifting, you should be able to see the work being done and be available for hands-on guidance to ensure it’s being done correctly. “The same goes for young workers,” says Tova. “They’re at higher risk of injury and tend to require more support. That type of active supervision simply cannot be replicated virtually.”

  2. Make day-to-day work location and meeting availability transparent and easily accessible. Location is important because it will determine how best to manage potential hazards from a supervisory standpoint and in case of emergency. “It also helps build trust between supervisors and staff, and between teammates, while allowing everyone to coordinate and collaborate amongst themselves,” notes Tova.

  3. Help create a presence with purpose. “Nothing is more demotivating to in-person work than going to the office simply to meet a ‘days per week’ requirement, only to sit alone on Teams calls all day,” says Tova. “Work with your staff to plan their in-office days and maximize value with meetings, brainstorming sessions, and group work. Leave quiet, focused work for home office days if workers prefer”.

  4. Be flexible. “Forget 9-5. With team members travelling and working at different sites, meeting diverse customer needs, commuting, and juggling family responsibilities, understand that some work can be done when it works best for the employee,” says Tova. Establish core work hours, such as 10am – 3pm, when you expect everyone to be available each day for collaboration. Let staff arrange individual work around their unique personal circumstances outside of the core work hours.

  5. Be reliable and available. Often, supervising virtually means being available to answer questions and help solve roadblocks staff may be facing. While you may not work the same hours as your team, especially if multiple time zones are involved, you should still be available during their working hours for a quick call if an emergency arises. This becomes especially important if an employee is working outside of their home. “The last thing you want in an emergency is your staff facing that emergency unsupported,” says Tova.

  6. Agree on standard response times. As mentioned above, when you have employees on different schedules working at different locations, they may not be available to answer emails or phone calls right away. To ensure everyone is on the same page, determine standard response times for emails, Teams messages, phone calls, etc.

  7. Communicate on-site hazards. For staff working in the office, educate them on basic ergonomic principles, show them how to adjust hoteling workstations for maximum comfort, and ensure everyone is clear on emergency protocols. For those doing off-site work, use customer management systems to communicate any site-specific hazards and employer programs regarding these hazards.

  8. Check your proximity bias. “It can be tempting to view staff who are in the office more often as more committed and offer them better opportunities. Spread mentorship, engaging projects, leadership opportunities, and responsibilities across the team equitably,” says Tova.

  9. Stay consistent with check-ins. “Check-ins should happen on a regular schedule. Don’t skip them just because you’re not in the same location. Hybrid is all about flexibility,” reminds Tova. “Have a face-to-face on camera if you aren’t in the same space but be sure to meet in person as well from time to time.”

  10. Set staff up for success. This is probably the most important aspect of effectively managing hybrid workers. Ensure staff have the tools and resources they need to complete their tasks safely. Have policies and procedures that clearly outline what is considered work and what is not, how to effectively communicate with each other, what to do from a health and safety perspective in each type of work environment, and when to disconnect.

How WSPS can help


Connect with a WSPS expert for guidance on developing effective health and safety programs and creating a mentally healthy workplace.


Check out these training courses to help your supervisors understand their responsibilities and give them the tools to supervise successfully.


The information in this article is accurate as of its publication date