Hybrid teams are becoming the norm for a lot of industries. Having office-based employees split their time between working in the office and from home requires companies to adopt more flexible business practices for managing their workforce. Leading a hybrid team can present challenges that in-office or fully remote teams do not.
Managing a hybrid team can present many challenges for managers. By putting in place protocols that ensure that both in-office and remote workers can stay in sync, you will give your team the best chance at success. Hybrid work environments are likely here to stay. The ability to manage and engage individuals while fostering a positive work environment is a skill worth practicing.
Here are six strategies for successfully managing a hybrid team.
Strategy #1: Communication is Key
Effective communication is the most important ingredient in successfully managing a hybrid team. When you have employees working together from different physical locations, they all need to understand where their colleagues will be and their roles.
A daily or weekly meeting that includes a virtual component can go a long way in helping the members of your team who are working from home feel included. Choose video or voice communication over text or email whenever possible. Your staff need to work together productively and understand their role and the roles of others.
Talk with your employees about how and when you communicate, how meetings will occur, and any relevant decision-making processes. Prioritize learning about your team members’ needs. Seek feedback from your employees, as it is essential to help your remote workers balance their workday, home responsibilities, and personal time.
Strategy #2: Digital Tools for Hybrid Teams
For employees to work effectively from home, they need to have the right tools and setup. This might include physical components like a laptop, headsets, and webcams. And don’t forget the digital tools that will enable all team members to work together effectively.
A digital workplace platform, such as cloud collaboration, team messaging, video conferencing apps, and project management tools, will ensure your remote workers can always stay in touch with the office.
Strategy #3: Develop Clear Expectations
Setting expectations for each team member is a crucial management component in a hybrid work environment. It is more challenging to monitor the performance of your remote employees, and therefore, they need to take on greater self-responsibility.
It is essential to review your expectations for how your team will structure their workday when working remotely. When you lay out your expectations for overall performance and individual projects, you give your team members a better sense of direction and a source of external motivation.
Strategy #4: Build Hybrid Team Culture
Encouraging your office-based and remote workers to be proactive about building working relationships is key to building a positive team environment. As a manager of a hybrid team, you must ensure you facilitate this as much as possible. Weekly video calls, for example, are a great way to bring the whole team together and foster respect and mutual support.
Look for opportunities to get the entire team together for social events. A happy hour or chat over coffee can encourage coworkers to bond with each other. If possible, host an in-person team-building event. These events allow employees to get to know each other outside of the work environment and can make everyone feel appreciated. Friendship in the workplace can measurably boost productivity and efficiency.
Strategy #5: Shift How Performance is Measured
Measuring performance can be complex, no matter what kind of team you are leading. In a thriving hybrid environment, leaders need to focus on goal-oriented management. Empowering your employees to determine how they achieve their objectives allows them to fully own outcomes. Knowing how to measure productivity and success in a hybrid work environment is crucial to a company’s success.
One way to track employee productivity and determine if company goals are being met is to use SMART goals. SMART goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. A good manager must regularly assess if each employee’s goals remain relevant and make adjustments as required.
Strategy #6: Foster Trust and Cooperation
Trust and cooperation are key ingredients in supporting the members of a hybrid team. To build trust, a manager must treat each team member fairly and respectfully. In a traditional workspace, a manager may have walked the office floor, chatted at the water cooler, or taken employees out for lunch.
While you can certainly still use in-person workdays for bonding with your team members, it is important to go beyond that for the most success. Workplace trust arises from sincerity, reliability, and competence. This trust goes both ways; you must model these to your team first and foremost. One-to-one conversations are an invaluable tool in building trust and cooperation. Listen to your team members with empathy and strive to understand their needs.