Much has been said about managing and leading teams. However, hybrid teams present a different set of challenges that require managers and leaders to step up their game. More recently, the Covid-19 pandemic has changed the rules of the game, and handling hybrid teams may no longer be an option but a necessity. That being so, this article takes a close look at how best to navigate a work environment with hybrid teams.
What Are Hybrid Teams?
Simply put, hybrid teams are a group of employees that can be divided into those who work in the office and those who work remotely. In most cases, employees get to decide which environment suits them best.
In the past, part remote teams were usually set aside for employees living in areas far from the workplace. However, as mentioned earlier, because of the Covid-19 pandemic, most organizations have had to approach the matter with more flexibility. For starters, some employees are hesitant to return to work full time as this increases the Covid-19 risk. Although this saves resources for both the company and employees, it also means hybrid team managers may encounter the following problems:
Communication breakdowns can easily happen when you manage hybrid teams. Keep in mind that collaboration is all about teamwork, but that can be hard when your team is spread out.
It’s common for employees to band into groups. Office workers are able to quickly get your attention and socialize in the breakroom. Meanwhile remote workers are somewhat isolated and may end up feeling like they’re not a priority.
Failure to adapt.
Office workflow differs from remote working environment practices. Not knowing the difference can lead to the failure of part remote teams.
If you’re a manager or leader who likes to keep a direct eye on your team, having some members out of sight can make it challenging to gauge productivity.
Top Tips To Help You Lead And Manage A Hybrid Team
So, what’s the best way to lead and manage hybrid teams and still keep your business thriving? Here are some strategies that help you build an empowered and efficient hybrid team:
Encourage a Culture of Accountability
When leading hybrid teams, it’s important to set crystal clear priorities, goals, and objectives so your team stays on track. This is especially important when dealing with remote workers. While it’s easy for hybrid team managers to handle in-office workers, the lack of visibility of remote workers can make it seem like these workers are unaccountable and slacking on the job.
However, this can easily be remedied by having clear communication lines, regular check-ins, and catch-up meetings. There are also tools you can use to virtually manage remote workers. For instance, you can use an app that lets you track your employee’s time at work.
This can also be a great idea to implement in the office since it eliminates the need to micromanage. In essence, it fosters a work culture that encourages openness, visibility, and accountability.
Invest in Social Technology Tools
Things would be pretty difficult for hybrid team managers without the use of social technology tools. We all know the popular ones like Zoom and Slack, and they have been a lifesaver in terms of streamlining communication and strengthening work relationships. Whether you plan to have regular online meetings or need your members to work on shared projects, subscribing to the appropriate platform can be well worth it.
Provide Support for Remote Workers
Odds are your office environment is already well-equipped to handle local employees. However, you need to consider your remote employees as well. Do they have the right tools at home? Are their personal computers up to the job? Do you make your remote workers feel like part of the team?
Find out areas that may be lacking, and make sure you spruce up the problem as much as possible. For instance, you can invest in ergonomic chairs and up-to-date office equipment that guarantees increased productivity.
Establish Flexible Working Environments
When you manage hybrid teams, flexibility should be a top attribute. That’s because you’re essentially running two teams, but work processes still need to stay cohesive. The important thing is to not apply the same expectations to both remote and local workers. The problem faced by most hybrid team managers and leaders is the inclination to only trust workers that are in your line of sight.
However, just because remote employees are not working under your watchful eye doesn’t mean they’re not putting in as much effort as local employees. Therefore, it’s essential to give them the freedom they need and let the results speak for themselves.
Also, keep in mind that work patterns can be affected in a home environment, so you may need to adjust work hours and schedule meetings in a way that accommodates everyone.
Bring The Team Together Occasionally
Although supporting your remote workers is important, it’s often necessary to bring the whole team into the office if the budget and circumstances allow. Otherwise, you might find your remote employees gradually feeling disconnected and losing focus since they’re not right in the mix of things. Be sure to keep things fun with ideas like work trips, company retreats, small-talk meetings, shared lunches, training programs, and work celebrations.
These occasions help your team bond together and discover or build important interpersonal relationships. Even if it’s not always possible to bring the whole team physically together, you can schedule fun zoom meetings or virtual activities that require everyone to play along, for instance, trivia quizzes. This will still go a long way towards forging strong bonds that keep your team focused on the same agenda.
The Bottom Line
Leading hybrid teams is all about understanding that your team doesn’t have to be all in one place for your organization to be successful. Use the above tools and strategies to adapt to this new reality, and you’ll find that having part remote teams can bring its own reward.