You might have heard something about hybrid companies and hybrid teams that allow people to choose whether they want to work from home or remotely, in the morning or the evening, etc. So what are these magic companies?
Hybrid companies allow people to choose their way, time, and place of work and even allow workers to alternate between different models. This way of working provides employees with great flexibility and control over their work hours, which can have a very positive effect on productivity.
Giving this much control to employees might sound like a recipe for failure and chaos. You might be having questions like “Won’t people slack off?” or “Won’t people take advantage of their employers?” In reality, employees love this system and report greater feelings of focus, dedication to work, and productivity. People who work according to a hybrid work model report more productivity and better engagement with their work. However, it’s still necessary to manage hybrid teams, which is not an easy task. How to be a good manager in a hybrid work model?
1. Set up the main structure
For many companies and professionals, a hybrid workplace is the new normal they want to keep alive; therefore, it’s important to change your management style to fit this new situation. It’s important to provide people with a consistent way to reach processes and achieve smooth workflow. To manage a hybrid workforce, managers and IT experts need to predict issues, break work into smaller elements, and allow workers to be confident and independent when working remotely.
It’s great for workers to be creative and decisive, but it’s also important to give them structure. If you create a strong main structure, everyone will know everything about new activities and tasks and be mindful of priorities and mechanisms necessary to notice problems and solve them quickly. The main appeal of the hybrid work model is that employees can get things done their own way, as long as the entire team resonates with the idea.
2. Provide visibility
Managers are often suspicious of their employees’ work, but if you employ tools that provide visibility, all mistrust will disappear. There’s no need to follow your employees’ every move virtually (micromanaging is never a good idea), but it is important to inform your team of their roles and responsibilities and the fact that you can see their progress towards your collective goals.
If the work everyone does is visible, people will often check the status of shared work. You can employ different tools that track work and writing and use team updates to keep everyone in the loop. These tools provide 100% visibility for all people present in the team, and everyone can see what’s going on, pitch their ideas and add valuable information to the team.
3. Set rules and daily rituals
Working in a hybrid model is full of surprises that can often be quite overwhelming. To reduce stress and boost productivity, it’s smart to set clear rules.
- Everyone needs to know which questions and issues can be solved with emails or private messages and which require team meetings
- Let people know how many times a day they will be expected to check-in
- Daily stand-up meetings are also to be expected, especially for teams that are not co-located.
No matter which rules you choose to set, stick with them so that employees can enjoy a clear and consistent daily routine.
4. Choose the right tech tools
When everyone is in the office, it’s easy to expect good communication, but with a mixed bag of in-office and remote workers, it’s necessary to create communication channels for employees. The manager should do some research into effective and accessible communication channels that allow employees to reach each other as well as people in higher positions. Video conferencing software can be quite helpful here. Other tech tools useful for hybrid work models are online check mailing and printing services that provide total transparency of payments, payment flow, estimated delivery dates, etc. This also allows easy bank account management and white-labeling.
5. Be mindful of meeting practices
Standard meeting practices include going through your agenda, discussion of next steps, and summarization of finished work. However, these measures are not enough for hybrid teams—it’s necessary to think deeper. Hybrid team meetings need to keep people working remotely in mind because they can’t see the entire room and get included in every conversation. Best managers know how to “translate” sidebar conversation, summarize the meeting, and give other clues that are useful for people attending the meeting remotely. In case someone tells something funny quietly, it’s important to repeat it and include every member of the team. Another important thing to consider when managing hybrid team meetings is how to give space for remote team members to give their input.
6. Onboard smarter
In a hybrid era of work, traditional onboarding processes won’t work their magic. It’s not possible to expect that people will pick up the corporation’s intelligence and culture in time because they are simply not present. And since company culture often goes undocumented, this can be a big problem when hiring new people.
Managers of the hybrid teamwork model need to be mindful of the workplace culture and dynamics. If most of the information related to an individual’s success goes unwritten, new remote workers will be at a great disadvantage. They might pick up cues more slowly and exhibit work dissatisfaction. Plus, the team won’t benefit from the new addition. To level the field, it’s important for all workers to receive the same onboarding experience no matter if they work from the office, from home, in the morning or at night.
7. Don’t neglect team culture
Photo by charlesdeluvio on Unsplash
Team culture is an important part of running a successful company, and hybrid teams require special attention in this department. The pandemic sparked things like Zoom happy hours and remote team-building exercises, it’s much smarter to incorporate culture-building activities into everyday team communication instead of investing in new activities. For instance, allowing team members to catch up on Mondays is a great way to improve teamwork, especially for people who can’t see their coworkers and have these conversations next to the cooler or vending machine.
No matter the location of your employees, it’s also important to have occasional face-to-face meetings (in person or over video calls) and use them to discuss issues and how to solve them. Every employee is different and will have different job satisfaction levels, but it’s important to check in with everyone regularly, regardless of their past satisfaction or dissatisfaction.
8. Offer support
Most managers know this, but it bears repeating—your primary role is to support your employees no matter what kind of work model your company is using. The past two years have been very hard on everyone, and 2022 will most likely continue the trend. Workers experience tons of stress and shock, so it’s crucial to reach out and offer support in hard times. Show genuine interest in people’s circumstances and discuss their worries and fears. At the beginning of the pandemic, managers used to do this frequently, but now many have stopped for no reason.
Many people feel stress and anxiety, and even resentment, from the request to return to their office while others might want to go back to the office to catch up and have better control of the current events. People will admit how they feel when you give them a safe space to open up. Make sure not to use the information you receive against the workers, but try to come up with a beneficial situation for everyone in the team.
To sum up, here are a few basic principles to stick to when managing a hybrid team in a hybrid company:
- Have clear goals and priorities to make it easy for everyone to focus on important things first
- Practice inclusivity by holding meetings online, even when some people are in the office—this achieves complete fairness.
- Be fair and shake your biases. Ask yourself whether there are people in your team who are not being given a fair shot and try to offer them just that.
- Flexibility is the most important thing in a hybrid work model so make sure to practice it.
- Stress is a real problem in teams that work according to a hybrid model so don’t ignore the signs of burnout. Set your priorities straight and make sure everyone is thriving.
- Don’t forget about having fun. Work is not all bleak and boring—connecting with your team, being playful from time to time, and boosting your team culture are crucial to professional happiness and employee retention.
There are many things managers can do to keep track of their hybrid team and maintain a productive and positive atmosphere. Whatever you do, try to use your skills to remove barriers between in-office and remote workers and allow people to be more flexible and autonomous—the results might surprise not only you but also your team and everyone involved in your projects.