Remote career experts outline top toxic workplace warning signs for hybrid job seekers
Hybrid work has emerged as the leading workplace model for employers. In fact, FlexJobs’® 2023 Top 100 Companies for Hybrid Jobs list recently recognized an expanding number of companies for having the highest levels of hybrid job postings over the past year. At the same time, it’s also the preferred working style for the majority of young professionals, with nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of Gen Z and over half (52 percent) of millennials stating hybrid is their “ideal work arrangement” ahead of full-time remote work. Given the wide adoption and growing dominance of hybrid work, FlexJobs has shared the Top 10 Red Flags of a Toxic Hybrid Workplace to help today’s job seekers better assess whether or not a company has a healthy hybrid work culture.
Blending both in-office and remote work, a “hybrid workplace” is generally structured using one of three primary setups:
- Employees work in the office part of the week and at home part of the week
- Teams of employees rotate between in-office and remote weeks
- Employees have the option to work fully in-person or fully remotely the majority of the time
“Hybrid work can provide flexibility and support greater work-life balance, however if not managed intentionally, it can also intensify the challenging aspects of remote work and harbor a toxic work environment,” said Toni Frana, Lead Career Expert at FlexJobs. “We hope these red flags encourage workers to investigate how employers are approaching hybrid work and make more informed career decisions that support their goals now and in the future,” Frana said.
Top 10 Red Flags of a Toxic Hybrid Workplace in 2023
1. Hybrid Policies Are Actually Empty Promises
Saying that the company is a hybrid workplace is one thing, but becoming a successful hybrid company is another. If the values and plan set out for a hybrid working arrangement are spoken, but not demonstrated––it’s a red flag. A company may provide a hybrid working policy, but they can also create ways of discouraging staff from taking advantage of it. For example, the company may say that if staff works at home, they cannot work flexible hours and instead assign the hours they have to work. Or, they may schedule meetings for inconvenient days and times that require in-person attendance.
2. Work-Life Imbalance
Talking about the importance of work-life balance and being intentional in implementing work-life balance programs are two different things. While many companies do a great job at delivering, there are organizations or toxic managers whose actions do not support or prioritize it. Work-life balance should be available during in-office days as well as remote work days.
3. Poor Company Communication
If there’s any lack of clarity in communication, that’s another warning sign. Successful hybrid workplaces require clear communication channels and preferences. There should be clarity among all parties in terms of the channels used to communicate, employees’ preferences, and best practices for communicating both synchronously and asynchronously. Company messages should be communicated with all employees––including those who are working from home.
4. High Employee Turnover
High employee turnover is always a clear sign of a toxic culture and an especially strong indicator in hybrid environments. If a job seeker is considering a new role, use sites like LinkedIn to see other employees’ timelines working at the company and note any trends or differences between hybrid and in-person workers, if possible. For existing workers, monitor movement within the company to get a sense of the average attrition rate.
5. Hardly Anyone Walks the Walk
In a company that values remote or hybrid work, everyone walks the walk. That means it allows and encourages people at all levels—from entry-level to the C-suite—to work remotely or in a hybrid arrangement. If only early or mid-level employees are hybrid, it could indicate that off-site workers can’t move up the career ladder unless they move to fully in-person work. 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 workers won’t have long-term success at this company unless they’re 100% in-person.
6. There’s a Lack of Trust
Working remotely or in a hybrid arrangement requires a solid foundation of trust. Managers and coworkers should be able to trust that each person on the team will follow through on what is expected of them. Additionally, if challenges do arise, a healthy team will be in communication to work through and solve any problems.
7. Meetings and Celebrations Aren’t Inclusive
Companies that commit to and embrace hybrid and remote work make an effort to rotate meeting times and celebrations, so that all employees, whether fully remote, in person, or hybrid, are included. Communication tools make it easy to share kudos with the entire organization, and virtual events can be organized to include everyone. Companies committed to remote and hybrid employees use these tools to praise and include everyone equally.
8. Career Paths Are Unclear
Knowing the opportunities and potential for growth and career advancement is critical for all employees. If it seems that in-person employees have a more clear-cut path for career development or advancement compared to remote or hybrid companies, that’s an indication that the company does not value remote workers or see them as part of a larger strategic plan. The career paths for employees should not be based on whether or not an employee works in the office, remote, or hybrid, but rather a consistent methodology that works across all employees regardless of their work type.
9. Inconsistent or Confusing Meeting Times
Depending on the size of the company and where remote and hybrid employees live, some workers may be one or even several time zones away from the main office. While there are ways to overcome and work with time zone differences, if the company always holds meetings when it’s convenient for the in-person staff, this could indicate a toxic workplace. Scheduling should accommodate all employees, especially those in hybrid or remote roles. Meetings should be scheduled when everyone can attend, and it’s a good idea for some––or all––meetings to have everyone attend digitally when working with hybrid and remote team members.
10. Information and Technology Tools Are Inaccessible
For hybrid arrangements to work seamlessly, organizations should provide people with the tools and information needed to perform the duties of their roles successfully, wherever they’re working from. In a hybrid role, this often involves digital communication tools, document management tools, and project management software. Similarly, a lack of information is often a sign of a toxic work environment. When it comes to remote and hybrid workplaces, it’s not just a lack of information that’s a red flag. Companies that aren’t committed to remote workers may not make information easily accessible. When a company does not create and maintain a central platform for sharing crucial information with the entire company, it’s a sign of a toxic hybrid workplace.