Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, there were already companies employing hybrid teams. These are composed of remote employees, on-site employees, and those who have the flexibility to go to the workplace and do off-site work. This has helped businesses become more agile with the lowered costs and increased productivity that hybrid teams bring. However, managing them remains a challenge especially for those who are only used to leading in a traditional work environment.
Hybrid teams are considered to be part of the modern workplace allowing the company to enjoy the benefits of different work models, offering employees and managers room to maneuver with them and see what works best. It is therefore crucial for employers and team leaders to know how to effectively manage this system in order to avoid operational difficulties. Here are some ways to help you manage hybrid teams amidst the current uncertainty.
Set clear rules and expectations. There should be a set of unified rules for all employees whatever the work set-up they’re assigned to. This would help them understand that they are all still part of one team whether they are on-site or off-site. Be sure that you also get to establish the appropriate times and channels when communicating. You must be able to outline the expectations on all possible components of the arrangement not only to properly guide the team but also to boost email productivity considering it would be the main communication platform everyone will be using. Think about your hybrid remote work policy, ensuring that it holds the answer to the most expected questions.
Establish goals. When everyone has a specific and defined goal in mind, it would be easier for them to keep on-task and focused until they achieve it. You should also clarify the collective goals in addition to the individual ones, making everyone feel that what they do contributes to the business mandate and direction. Don’t forget the SMART nexus so everything is clear and realistic, which helps employees pace their work and outputs without the physical presence of a manager or coworker. Consequently, online meetings will be focused on necessary discussions.
Automate processes. It is no question that establishing a cloud-based system such as for example Google Workspace to centralize all processes and let everyone have access to resources anywhere is of utmost importance. These kinds of platforms save work hours while ensuring that all employees have timely access to needed information. Properly orienting and training the employees on the technology that the company adopted ensures success and a seamless work experience.
It is also important for the management to be in tune with the latest technology trends that would be useful in managing hybrid teams and avoid work burnout. Invest in the right tools for shared devices, video conferencing, project management, task delegation, etc. Make sure that you always consider what can work for both in-house and out-of-office employees.
Provide adequate communication tools. By now, after almost two years of remote working, you should have identified the communication tools and channels that optimize everyone’s work while encouraging collaboration. Some options are Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Slack, among several others. It is best practice to have two or more software ready for the same purpose in case one would encounter a glitch.
Of course, you should consider providing staff with company phones and establishing dedicated channels for different kinds of communication (i.e., updates, setting up a meeting, urgent matters). Clearly outline the appropriate use of each channel in order to not miss any important information. Be mindful of communication overload as well especially when teams today are heavily using online platforms, which can cause fatigue.
Encourage flexibility. Needless to say, being open to a hybrid setup empowers employees to have a choice of what can help them be more productive. You may want to offer them ‘flexitime’ arrangements instead of being rigid with the usual 9 to 5 system. Condensed workweeks might also work for your team. Have a sit down with the management and discuss the possible flexible arrangements that you can offer your employees to boost their morale and be at their best. The proper balance of managing the team while giving them more autonomy can actually translate to a healthy company culture that still encourages everyone to work towards the same goals.
These are only some of the effective ways to optimize hybrid working arrangements. Don’t forget to get feedback from the employees every now and then to understand the challenges they face. This will demonstrate workplace empathy and can give you valuable insights on how to better current systems and operations. Moreover, this will allow you to foster trust as they know that you are purposefully looking out for them. All the best!