Hybrid Team Management: Effective Strategies
Elon Musk wrote an email to Tesla employees: “If you don’t show up, we will assume you have resigned.” And then there is Andy Jassy, the CEO of Amazon who asked: “When are we really going back to the office?” and “Do we need to be working in person together every day to collaborate and invent best?”
In March 2022, CEO Tim Cook outlined a plan to have Apple employees who had been working from home return to the office, something the iPhone titan has been trying to do since June 2021 but kept postponing due to persistent concern about the pandemic. In April this year, Apple began a phased approach to the hybrid work pilot plan.
The above statements are actually on the mind of every CEO globally: is Remote work the future? or how will a hybrid set-up (a combination of remote and in-office set-up) work efficiently? or should all employees be working from the office at all times?
We cannot afford to have a one size fits all policy so whether it is remote work, a return to the office, or a hybrid, the time is now to effectively think about how this will all work cohesively for companies and individuals. Managing a hybrid team can work.
And as the hybrid workplace endures, managing a remote team (a combination of in-office and remote) becomes a vital part of running an organisation.
According to JLL’s “Reimagining Human Experience” report, which polled more than 2,000 office workers worldwide, 66% anticipate working in a hybrid paradigm after the pandemic. Now increasingly businesses are realising that the cohesiveness of their teams’ interactions matters more than where they are physically located.
Here are a few tips that will help in managing hybrid teams:
Establish clear engagement ground rules and create a daily routine.
Everyone may know what to anticipate when clear norms of participation are established up front, which promotes a productive work environment. For instance, team members need to understand what questions require a team meeting and which ones may be answered by email or instant chat.
Establish a work schedule
Decide on core hours during which team members must be available and attentive to their tasks. Discuss your team’s needs for synchronous work time (i.e., what hours can everyone be online at the same time) and what hours team members will be working asynchronously if you have members who are dispersed across several time zones. It’s also beneficial to talk about how much freedom there is in determining what those asynchronous hours are for asynchronous work.
Deploy a productivity management software
Studies have shown that using a workforce analytics solution that effectively manages hybrid teams will always help in fostering a productive work environment.
Establishing rules for using messaging apps.
Establish status indicators to help team members signal when they are available for collaboration and when they are trying to finish concentrated work and wish to avoid distractions. Think about “silent hours” or a moratorium on chat applications. Outlining the specific messages that the team wishes to manage via email as opposed to a messaging app can also be useful. Quick queries or real-time project status updates, which are more suited for a messaging app, are better communicated via email or even a team wiki as opposed to longer updates.
Be tenacious in your pursuit of efficient meeting facilitation techniques.
Leaders in a hybrid team must be careful in their practice of efficient meeting facilitation. This entails going above and beyond conventional best practices like adhering to an agenda and making sure that the follow-up actions are properly summarised.
Build a culture
Team culture needs special consideration while leading hybrid teams. Even if remote team-building events like Zoom ‘happy hours’ became popular in 2020, it’s important to integrate culture-building into already planned team get-togethers rather than creating new ones. Even just a little personal catch-up on a Monday morning team call can go a long way, especially for remote workers who are unable to have that kind of talk on the elevator ride to the office or around a water cooler.
Set aside times that are “meeting-free”
To ensure that everyone has enough time for autonomous, concentrated work, designate “meeting-free” time periods throughout the week. This also acts as a motivating factor for everyone to be more selective about when a meeting is necessary and when email or other forms of communication suffice. Naturally, if your team members are spread out across different time zones, the parts of the workday that don’t overlap frequently function as an automatic meeting-free period.
Always be ready.
With team members dispersed across many places, emergencies can and do occur. You might not be aware of them if something such as a weather emergency or other unusual circumstance occurs in another location. Establish emergency communication protocols, to help guarantee staff members are safe and secured in the event of an emergency or other catastrophe. Never assume something in such cases.
Hybrid work culture is here to stay
It’s important for managers and organisations to think about how they can best provide an accessible and supportive environment for all employees, whether they work in the office or remotely, even though productivity barriers vary by individual (e.g., stage of life, type of r9iesidence, parental status). Set the expectation that everyone should be actively involved when “at work” and take advantage of whatever downtime they require outside of regular business hours, wherever you and your team may be. Management of comfort, confidence, and performance for managers and individuals alike benefits from a strategy that prioritises complete openness and clear expectations.
While there is much more to be said about supporting team members as individuals and encouraging effective teamwork, these possible measures ought to assist in removing typical obstacles to success. Hybrid teams are here to stay, therefore as leaders, to do well it is important to keep honing management, engagement, and culture-building skills regardless of where the teams are physically located.