In a post-pandemic era work environment, many teams have decided to adopt a hybrid working model. A hybrid working model has become a popular choice for teams as a middle ground between fully remote and returning to the office.
The pandemic has shifted how both managers and employees view a work environment and many studies are being conducted on productivity and team communication. A hybrid team involves team members working a combination of both in-person and from home on a set schedule. There are numerous benefits of a hybrid workplace for both employees and employers, including more flexibility, increased employee happiness, and recruiting from a larger talent pool.
How do you manage hybrid teams?
In addition to a shift in the work environment itself, being either at home or in the office, a shift has had to be made in management styles, too. When you’re meeting face to face with your team every day, some things are easier than when you’re fully remote. It’s essential to take into consideration both in-person and remote team members when managing a hybrid team, as it’s not a one-size-fits-all.
Tips to Manage a Hybrid Team
1. Have the Right Tools
If not everyone is going to be in the same place, you need to ensure you have the right tools and technology to stay connected and collaborate. A video conferencing tool is key to ensure employees can join meetings regardless of location. Even more so, if meetings are taking place in person while some employees are remote, the conference rooms should be equipped with a phone or video/audio capabilities to keep everyone connected in one place.
2. Implement Tactics to Run Effective Hybrid Meetings
It’s always a good idea to come to meetings prepared with an agenda and talking points to make sure it’s the best use of everyone’s time, but there are more things to consider than just an agenda for a hybrid meeting. To run an effective hybrid meeting, consider the following:
- Assign tasks clearly so everyone knows what to do
- Be inclusive of participants regardless of location
- Be on video so everyone can be included, even those who are together in-person
- Communicate any meeting etiquette expectations ahead of time
- Be aware of cultural differences that could impact meeting behavior
3. Include non-work-related conversations in your daily routine.
Without a water cooler to chat around, a kitchen to hangout at lunchtime, or conversations that happen in passing around the office, it’s important to make time and space for conversations that are not work-focused. With a hybrid team, some people will be having those in-person small talk conversations, while others who are remote will miss out on that. This can create a divide between the team if remote employees feel left out. Ad-hoc conversations, regardless of subject, are important to the function of any team.
4. Be communicative about work schedules.
It’s important that you, as the manager, know when and where your team is working. Who will be in the office, what hours do people work across time zones, and other similar details important to the “where” and “when” questions should be a priority to keep organized. It’s not just important for you to be fully aware of these schedules, but also the rest of the team. When scheduling meetings, everyone should be aware of where everyone is located to be able to provide accessible dial-in details or meeting notes. Some helpful tools for this are setting working hours and location on Google Calendar, listing time zone in your Slack profile, and creating a spreadsheet or schedule available for everyone to see when the team will be in-office.
5. Establish core hours for work.
If your team is distributed and there is a possibility of overlap in hours, make sure to set those as core hours for your team to be online and working. Whether that’s in office or remote, having established time that everyone can be together is important. Even if that accounts for just 1 hour of time, make a point to schedule all-team meetings then to ensure the whole team is able to communicate and come together.
6. Give equal time to each team member regardless of location.
If you are working in-office with your team, it will seem natural to spend more time with them. However, it’s important to give your entire team equal attention and time regardless of location so as not to play favoritism. Schedule regular one-on-one meetings with everyone on your team, ask for honest feedback, and make a point to check in regularly and consistently with them.
7. Create and follow specific rituals for your day.
As a manager, there are things you need to do regardless of location and making a ritual out of them can be helpful in staying organized and on task. For example, the first hour of your day being spent checking in with everyone on your team – sending a Slack message or visiting their desk – and asking where you are needed to support them on the day’s tasks. Daily or weekly stand-up meetings for your team are a great ritual to implement, too. A set time where everyone is in the same meeting, sharing updates, asking questions, and being made aware of what’s going on outside their realm of work is important for team communication.
8. Create “meeting-free” times.
In a hybrid world, calendars are more jam-packed than ever. Conversations that could be had ad hoc by visiting someone’s desk in the office now need a designated meeting time put on the calendar. This can lead to Zoom fatigue and meeting overwhelm. Designate specific times that are meeting-free so your team can focus on their work or utilize other means of communication like Slack or email in the interim.
9. Encourage a healthy work-life balance.
Be supportive of your team’s life outside of work and they will be more appreciative of their time with you at work. Disconnecting is important to maintain a healthy work life balance. Ask your team regularly what their bandwidth is like, and encourage honest answers. If you get feedback that your team is feeling burnt out, stressed for time, or overwhelmed with tasks, step in and address those pain points immediately. If you have other team members who can step in and support, push a deadline back, or dive in with your team to accomplish a task, the work may not seem so overwhelming. Be encouraging of vacation time use, which is sometimes easier said than done for people to decide to disconnect.
10. Be flexible and change team norms as needed.
In a hybrid world, things change often and quickly. Be flexible when things come up that require a shift in plans. If someone needs to work from home instead of in the office or the office needs to shut down entirely, you’ll be prepared and not stressed at the change in plans if you’ve mentally prepared for change.
Common Challenges Managing Hybrid Teams
Productivity: Inherent trust is key for managing remote or hybrid teams. Without trust, micromanaging tendencies can creep in. If you’re not in the office with your team, you really don’t know if they’re working and being productive. Instead of micromanaging or checking in too frequently, move all of your productivity metric trackings to a digital platform. Project management tools to easily communicate tasks, deadlines, and time tracking are helpful.
Communication: Clear communication and documentation will be at the forefront of your success as a hybrid team. Easy to access information will save a lot of time and help your team without them having to come to you with questions. Communicate clearly, transparently, and as soon as possible about any changes in workflows, project updates, or need-to-know information for the team.
Culture: How do you keep a team feeling centered and connected when they’re distributed and segmented? Don’t lose sight of the importance of culture in a hybrid team. Consider team building activities that can be done in person AND remotely to bring your team together. Teamraderie offers dozens of experiences tailored specifically for your hybrid team to come together, bond, connect, and collaborate.