Six Red Flags of a Potential Toxic Hybrid Workplace

Remote work is here to stay, but many companies still wrestle with the idea of how it fits into the post-pandemic workplace. For some employers, a hybrid workforce may be the answer. Hybrid combines aspects of both in-person and remote workplaces and appears to be the preferred long-term arrangement.

According to a recent McKinsey survey, nine out of 10 companies say they plan to adopt a hybrid-working model, but 68 percent of these companies don’t have a detailed plan on how to execute it, which could lead to trouble ahead. An Inc. Magazine piece appearing

A recent Inc. Magazine article by Marcel Schwantes lists these six warning signs from as potential signals of a “toxic” workplace:

  1. There’s no real plan in place – Winging it isn’t an option when it comes to creating a high-functioning and fairly treated hybrid workforce. If the company doesn’t seem 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 this will be a healthy, equitable place to work for remote workers.
  2. No senior leaders work remotely – A company that values remote work will have people at all levels of the company who are working remotely, including at the senior leadership level. If only lower or mid-level career employees are allowed to work remotely and all senior leadership works in the office, it’s practical to assume remote workers cannot progress within the company and stay remote.
  3. Digital communication tools have not been prioritized – In a hybrid or remote work environment, people can’t have impromptu conversations, putting remote workers at a disadvantage. However, there are plenty of synchronous and asynchronous communication tools to help address the gaps that can occur when some people are not physically present. If digital tools have not been put in place or prioritized by management, and teams haven’t been advised on how to optimize them, then the company is not equipping employees for success.
  4. Celebration, praise and rewards only happen in the office – A big part of company culture is having celebration, praise, and reward activities to show appreciation for employees and make them feel valued. A red flag for a hybrid work environment is if these things are only taking place in the office and no strategic efforts are mad to include people working remotely.
  5. Management doesn’t have a solid communication plan – Hybrid teams need to pay attention to communication, making sure to include remote employees in any meetings or activities at the office. It is vitally important the remote employee and in-office manager have a clear communication plan.
  6. No career path for remote workers – If 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 the company are reserved for in-office workers, that’s a sign the hybrid workplace doesn’t value remote workers or see them as part of the company’s larger strategic plan.

A toxic workplace may not have all these red flags. Likewise, if a company has one of these red flags it’s not necessarily proof of a toxic workplace, but rather an indication that the transition to hybrid is bumpy.