With the lockdowns imposed upon much of Australia over the past year, many professionals have been forced to work remotely. This mode of working has become quite popular. Research shows nearly 40% of Australians would consider quitting their job if it didn’t allow them to work from home, at least some of the time. Hybrid teams have become the next big thing.
In order for this new working arrangement to function effectively for both employer and employees managers must adapt to this situation. Maintaining inclusiveness, cohesion and a happy team is of utmost importance.
To help you out, we’ve compiled the best 7 tips for managing a hybrid team.
What is Hybrid Working?
Let’s start with the basics. Hybrid working, also called a ‘hybrid team’ or a ‘hybrid working model,’ refers to a workforce made up of remote employees, office-based employees, and those who do both.
The pandemic has forced many of us to at least partially work from home. As the workforce gradually returns to the office, many split their time between in-person and remote working. For other organisations, the move to hybrid teams is a result of being unable to hire the required talent within their state. This talent shortfall then motivates the organisation to look overseas or interstate for employees to join the team.
Whatever the reasons, this arrangement is great for employees’ for work-life balance, and many employers have found that their team can be just as productive when working from home.
The Future of Hybrid Teams
With a hybrid working model, employees are given a sense of independence and an improved work-life balance. That’s great for both recruitment and retention. Smart employers adapt to their teams needs instead of expecting them to be staring at their screens from 9-5. If your employee needs to pick up their kids from school and make up those hours later, trust them to make these decisions.
Hybrid working isn’t just good for the workers either. Organisations gain access to a much larger talent pool when hiring for hybrid teams, as mentioned in our recent article about recruiting during COVID.
It seems that the hybrid working model is here to stay, and this presents a new challenge for leaders managing a hybrid team.
Here are some tips to get you started.
How To Manage a Hybrid Team
Clearly Establish Expectations and Accountability
Who is doing what? Things can get easily muddled when managing a hybrid team, so setting clear expectations and accountability is key to keeping your organisation organised.
Communicate workflows, key deadlines and share progress regularly to keep everyone on the same page. Daily or weekly meetings can get the team up to speed on what’s happening and is great for team building.
Set and Share Work Schedules
Despite working from different locations, you want your team to collaborate effectively. Having the team know when each member is working, and what their schedules are, can facilitate better communication between team members and help avoid delays. Otherwise, you may have an idle employee waiting on contributions from a team member who has prioritised another task, is on a break or isn’t even working on that day.
Take Care Not to Alienate Remote Workers
When managing a hybrid team, it can be very easy for a ‘them and us’ culture to form if one group feels the other is being prioritised. The last thing you want is for those in the office to see the remote workers as a different part of the team. Take care not to associate more closely with one group, and facilitate collaboration through video calls and chat groups.
For example, one of our clients had a cheese and wine tasting event in the office. They mailed wine and cheese packages to their remote teams who were then able to join in the festivities remotely.
Communication is Key
Don’t underestimate how much knowledge was previously shared internally from non-organised communication. Getting to know your colleagues through those Monday morning conversations or the client feedback shared around the water cooler can all be lost as soon as teams go remote.
Make up for the face-to-face interaction that remote team members miss out on by thinking about how you can include them in other ways. Virtual meetings, as mentioned, bring a more human element to your communication and will help remote workers feel more like part of the team.
Before holding an impromptu office meeting, think about whether you’re excluding anyone. Scheduling a call with the entire team may seem like an extra effort, but more perspectives are always better for problem solving, while providing an ever-important opportunity for team building.
At TalentVine, when Covid first arrived, we had new team members that weren’t able to get to know each other in the office. In response, we had a different team member each week create a presentation on anything that they love, from boating and rock climbing to their cats. The team would then have a quiz on the subject afterwards, which proved an effective way to build familiarity and rapport.
Adapt Your Hiring Practices
When hiring a hybrid or remote worker, there are a few skills that you should consider placing more value upon. Motivated, results-focused candidates are highly desirable as you can trust they’ll put their time at home to good use.
Look for employees that are adaptable, responsive, and can work on their own initiative. Prior remote work experience is also a plus, as they’ll have a handle on collaborating and managing time from a home environment. Hiring remote workers gives you access to a much larger pool of talent, so take advantage of it!
Prioritise Mental Health
Despite the benefits of a hybrid team, remote workers may still begin to feel isolated, anxious, stressed, fearful or depressed. When you don’t have regular face-to-face contact, it can be difficult to identify when a remote team member is struggling.
Take the time to understand what’s happening in your team’s lives so you know what they are dealing with. Are they having to juggle home-schooling for multiple kids? Have they been away from their family for two years? Are they working around the kitchen table with four other housemates?
The consistency of an office-based job may have helped your team to balance their work and home life. Without a clearly defined routine, workers are likely to fall behind in both, as they try to manage domestic chores and work simultaneously.
Designing a schedule to separate work hours from home life hours is vital. This ensures that your employees still have enough time to mentally switch off and recharge their batteries while eliminating unrequired stress and pressure.
As the humble cubicle gave way to the open-plan office, we now see remote working, or at least hybrid teams, as the next step in the evolution of the corporate workspace.
While hybrid team concepts provide many advantages, leaders must adapt to managing this new style of workforce. The tips we’ve provided above should give you a solid base for tackling these new challenges, including effective communication, maintaining fairness and building a positive culture.
Hiring the right people for your hybrid team is particularly important in this candidate-short landscape. TalentVine makes this easy. All you need to do is post a role. Specialist recruiters will bid to work on it, and you choose based on their peer-reviewed profiles. See their rates, ratings, recently placed roles and more to find the best recruiter for your business.