In today’s world, many teams are working in hybrid environments. The pandemic shifted how we work together for a lot of people. It’s likely that you’re already familiar with working remotely or in a hybrid setting (part of the time at home and part of the time in an office). However, team interactions and dynamics are experienced differently working remotely or semi-remote than when we work together all in person. And, you may have come to realize that managing a hybrid team comes with its own unique challenges and considerations. We’ll outline a few strategies that managers can employ to ensure success:
- Set regular check-ins. A common challenge for hybrid teams is feeling left out, for both team members as well as team leads. Personally, I am a fan of the daily check-in or sync. This doesn’t necessarily need to be work-related, but it’s a great way to maintain a sense of community for employees and managers, no matter where someone is working. This can be as simple as typing ‘hello’ in a team collaboration platform or tool such as Slack when you sign on for the day. No matter where your team is working from, a regular check-in is a great tool to help foster a sense of belonging and togetherness, as a team.
- Communicate. Communication is key. In addition to check-ins, ask people how they like to do work, how they communicate, and how they like to give and receive feedback. When in doubt, don’t leap to conclusions. We’ve all been on the other side of a vague request or statement, wondering what the other person really means. If you’re not sure, ask questions for clarification. If you’re that person who tends to be a bit vague, work to be more specific with your asks. This is the difference between asking someone for a brief one-off meeting without any further explanation (the other person might be thinking, ‘did I do something wrong? Am I going to be fired?’) as opposed to asking for the one-off meeting and sharing something further such as ‘I want to chat with you this afternoon. It’s nothing negative, but I want to review the latest project update with you.’
- Clearly outline expectations. Managers should make sure to provide clear direction and set expectations for their team. This includes establishing working protocols, such as the frequency and types of meetings that should be held, what the expectations are around working, when to follow up, and how often (and how) to check in on project status updates. Oftentimes we assume that everyone works the same way that we do, and that can lead to misunderstandings. Get ahead of potential conflicts by sharing work guidelines and expectations. For example:
- If you’re online, do you need to respond right away?
- Do emojis mean one thing to you and something different to someone else?
- If you’re running or participating in hybrid meetings, how do you manage the fact that participants are in different locations? Can someone be focused on ensuring that remote participants are heard through maintaining check-ins or back-channel support?
- Some managers have guidelines that if one person is remote, everyone should be online, even if present in the office. That may not work for you, but if your team is hybrid, consider what the experience is for everyone.
By taking the time to establish clear communication protocols, utilize collaboration tools, and be clear about your expectations, hybrid teams can reach their full potential and achieve success. Have you used any of these strategies, and to what degree of success? Do you have any other tips to share? Let us know!