05 Oct Challenges of Managing Hybrid Teams and Four Solutions to Help You be a Better Manager
***Updated on 30 March, 2021
Hybrid teams are here to stay.
Many companies are preparing for a future workplace that combines remote work and time in the office, known as hybrid teams. Workers all over the world seem to want a mixture of remote and office working. Survey data suggests that 94% of employees want the option of being able to go to a physical office when they want and that remote work should augment but not replace the office.
Large consulting companies like KPMG and Deloitte are exploring the hub and spoke model, where they have a CBD hub and suburban spokes. This means that employees can have an office location close to home, if and when they want to go in. Employees who wish to avoid using public transport and can drive and park at these suburban spokes. For the employer, the hub and spoke model can mean lower rent expenses at central locations.
However, hybrid workplaces can magnify existing inequalities. Those with comfortable home offices may be able to concentrate better than those in cramped apartments or with caring responsibilities. Or, those who are in-person regulars may be more visible to managers working in the office and gain an edge over remote workers.
So what are some tips for the effective management of a hybrid team? Today we discuss four strategies for managing hybrid teams.
Strategy #1 – Set clear expectations
As a leader, you need to set clear expectations for your team. Is everyone expected to work the same hours, or core hours, to facilitate synchronous communication? Do you want employees to spend a certain number of days in the office each week? If you can offer flexibility over working location and hours, what outputs and outcomes do you expect from your employees? What problem do you want your team members to solve? Do they understand the purpose of their work?
Depending on your organisation, the answers to the above questions will differ. Still, it’s essential to clearly define expectations for the team so that everyone knows what they need to do.
Strategy #2 – Transparent communication
For managing hybrid teams, clarity and consistency around procedures is important for avoiding conflict. For example, you might ask all employees to dial into team meetings on their individual devices, even if they’re in the office. This can help to foster a sense of equality between remote workers and office workers and means that everyone can be seen and heard.
Another common challenge is that those in the office may have informal conversations that change task specifications. For example, you may have agreed on outputs with the whole team, but your boss pops over to your desk during an office day to change the goalposts. As a leader, you need to have a process to capture and share important information with both office and remote workers.
Strategy #3 – Designate team office days
Ideally, team members would be in the office on the same designated days, if possible under social distancing rules. Office days means scheduled time for collaboration tasks and team meetings. Designating days avoids creating inequality between office regulars and remote workers. Furthermore, spending time together as a team plays a vital role in more effective management as it can promote team spirit and build trusting relationships.
Depending on the type of work that your team does, you may need less or more days together in the office. For example, if your team needs time for individual focussed tasks, they may be more productive working from home.
Strategy #4 – Build a supportive team culture
COVID-19 may have changed our perceptions about remote work forever, but effective management of a hybrid team requires buy-in and support from the whole team. For example, a lack of understanding about who is doing what and where can lead to isolation and lower engagement from remote workers, or feelings of resentment from office workers.
Employees may need additional training on how to work effectively as part of a hybrid team, such as how to maintain motivation and engagement while working remotely, or how to increase their productivity while working from home.
If we get it right, managing hybrid teams can give us the best of both worlds – effective collaboration and focused work. Hybrid work can help employees find the right work-life balance for them and maintain high productivity.
At PEPworldwide, we have been helping teams increase their productivity for over 30 years. We have tailored programs to help you and your team be more effective, regardless of working location. Learn how PEP can help you and your team increase productivity and improve wellbeing.
By Simon Nicholls