What Is A Hybrid Team?
Traditionally, a hybrid work environment was made up of staff who worked in the office and those who worked remotely. However, the pandemic has shaken up the old rules, and today’s hybrid teams are comprised of staff who switch their time between the office and remote on any given day. Working remotely may mean home, a cafe, or in a hammock on a remote beach with a good WiFi connection. Which can make it hard to manage hybrid teams.
The key thing is that managers need to adapt to is this shift towards staff autonomy. With the freedom to choose where they work, on most days managers will not know where their employees are. And while it may seem daunting, it should be seen as an opportunity to reevaluate the status quo and implement new, smarter ways of working together.
So let’s take a look at some key points to remember if you manage hybrid teams.
Who is your team?
Your initial answer to that question is likely those underneath you, or in your work group. However, one of the biggest benefits, and perhaps most underutilized, of hybrid workplaces is that anyone can be in your team. Siloed teams are ineffective, and the best way to manage hybrid teams is by removing information silos and opening up cross-communication.
So think more broadly about who you can bring into your meetings, brainstorming sessions or projects. This may be anyone who can contribute ideas, thoughts or expertise. Of course, this strategy works best when you bring people in early in the co-creative process. So really think about what inputs you need to execute this project and who can you find to give them?
Build trust through emotional connections
Set up a quick Sweet & Sour check-in with your team before every team meeting. In just 30 seconds, ask everyone to share what’s going on now that’s good (sweet) and bad (sour). It opens up lines of communications, builds empathy while giving staff a chance to talk about something that might be bubbling away unresolved under the surface. Especially in hybrid teams where most of the communication will be done via email and chat, having this opportunity to share verbally ensures there’s no miscommunication.
Another idea shared in the book Leading at a Distance by James M. Citrin and Darleen DeRosa highlights the simple act of storytelling to create connections. During the pandemic, several leaders started sending weekly emails to staff with professional and personal highlights. These proved popular as a tool for trust-building.
Prioritize company culture
Without the long lunches, in-person workshops and team building events, company culture may get pushed aside in hyrbid teams. However, without these face-to-face connections, it’s actually more important than ever to build a culture that makes people feel valued, close, and aligned on goals.
If you manage hybrid teams, here are just a couple of ideas you may want to implement
- Branded merch: send everyone a branded water bottle, mouse pad or T-shirt that makes them feel like they’re part of a team
- Buddy-system: Allocate someone to be the point-of-contact for all new starters. This buddy can help direct questions to the right person and facilitate introductions.
- One pager: Create a succinct one-page document that highlights the company culture. Share it with all staff, and encourage them to stick it up in the workspace. Even better, run a collaborative session and write your own team charter together.
- Remote off-sites: Organizing an off-site gives everyone a chance to meet in person and build friendships
- Recreate the serendipity of casual office chats using a matching tool in Slack that sets up short 15-minute coffee dates with colleagues from different departments.
- Encourage social engagement: Create optional events such as weekly online trivia, book clubs, fantasy football leagues or charitable causes to get behind.
Use communication to manage hybrid teams
While communication is the crux of all successful teams, it’s especially crucial to effective in hybrid work environments. If you manage hybrid teams, make sure you establish clear expectation and guidelines around when, where, what, who and how information will be shared. And as a general rule, the more open, the better.
Setting a hybrid meeting agenda and sharing it in a shared document that everyone can access may seem basic, but it is so important as a ground-rule.
Without the chance to sit around a table and share documents together, a whiteboard such as Conceptboard allows you to add notes, @mention users, and streamline the decision-making process in hybrid teams. Hybrid teams should be “encouraged to leverage collaboration tools and document every change and decision that gets made. This helps everyone stay on the same page,” writes the HBR.
For upper management, the real key is sharing what’s going on at a top level. Consider sharing information from executive meetings by making the minutes available on the staff server. If there are big changes to the business, recording videos ensure everyone is kept up to date and can watch it in their own time.
How to manage hybrid teams successfully?
To sum up, if you want to manage hybrid teams that are close, trusting and effective, it comes down to flexibility. There has been a lot of upheaval in the past year, and hybrid work environments are completely new for most people. Don’t ignore signs of stress, focus on building empathy, trust and communication. And remember to have some fun along the way!
Continue exploring how you can create close-knit teams, especially in remote or hybrid work environments, take a look at these articles:
- The five essentials to running great hybrid meetings
- 10 Steps To Effective Teamwork With The Team Canvas template
- Why Communication Is the Greatest Challenge for Remote Teams
If you want to see how Conceptboard can help your team work better visually, sign up for a free 30 day trial now.