4 Subtle Signs That Your New Hybrid Workplace is Toxic (and It's Time to Advocate for Yourself)

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April 23, 2024 at 5:59PM UTC
As employees around the country return to their workplaces in various ways, there’s a growing awareness that even the hybrid set-up can be toxic.
A new report from FlexJobs highlights the red flags of a toxic hybrid workplace. With 68% of companies lacking a detailed work plan (and 32% behind the curve with planning), employees who once thought they were skirting the pitfalls of the office could be dealing with just as much stress working remotely. You may feel it in your own home. Here are the signs to look for.

1. Only some people are allowed to work remotely

Perhaps you encountered this scenario before the pandemic: Only certain workers were granted the ability to work from home on any given day — not everyone.
Obviously, the pandemic has shown that work can be accomplished remotely. But it’s important to notice who is working offsite because it could secretly stunt your professional growth.
“If only early or mid-level employees are remote or hybrid, it could indicate that off-site workers can’t move up the career ladder unless they move to in-person work,” the report warns. “Examine the organization to see if there are remote or hybrid workers at every career level. A lack of remote or hybrid higher-ups could indicate you won’t have long-term success at this company unless you are 100% in-person.”

2. Communication is inconsistent so key info is out of date

Many of the top CEOs at companies around the world have stressed the importance of in-person collaboration in order to move ideas into a product. It’s been argued that communication suffers when working remotely due to stunted collaboration.
As companies begin laying out plans for the return to the office, communication is perhaps more important than ever before. Remote workers need to stay in the loop with in-person employees, especially when it comes to projects with other workers.
“If remote and hybrid employees are always out of the loop, their careers may never thrive at the company. For example, if a project deadline is changed, but this change is not noted in the project management tool, remote and hybrid employees may miss deadlines or work overtime to get something done “now” that could have waited until “later,” which could make them feel undervalued or even taken advantage of,” according to the FlexJobs report.

3. Your meetings are scheduled during breakfast every day

The flexibility of working anywhere can be tempting — until it comes to meetings in different time zones.
While there are ways to make sure all workers are online at the same time, those who decided to live elsewhere and take advantage of their company’s flexible remote work policy have likely faced difficulties melding work life into another time zone.
The FlexJobs report says that if a company always holds meetings when it’s convenient for in-person staff, it could be an indication of a toxic workplace.
“Companies that value remote employees make it clear during the hiring process that there are core hours staff have to be available for meetings, so they know exactly what they are signing up for before they accept the job,” they said.

4. Your WFH policy isn’t actually a policy

By now, hopefully your company has a plan for either a hybrid or fully remote workplace. However, it could be dangled like a treat without ever being fully enabled.
Be mindful of what your company is saying when they announced their plans for a hybrid workplace — there could be hidden policies that discourage staffers from working from home.
“[A] company may say that if you work at home, you cannot work flexible hours and instead assign the hours you have to work,” the report advises. “Or, they may schedule meetings for days and times that are inconvenient for you and require your in-person attendance. Actions like these may indicate that the company is not serious about remote and hybrid work.”

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