There is no doubt that the COVID pandemic has changed the way we work forever. Many businesses almost overnight needed to shift to remote working. But as restrictions ease and employees are encouraged to return to the office, many are opting for hybrid working arrangements. This raises new challenges for leaders regarding how to engage and manage a hybrid team.
In previous years, you might have popped your head out of the office and asked everyone to gather in the conference room whenever you needed to meet as a team. Today, things are not as straight forward, raising several questions for leaders. For instance, how can they ensure everyone stays on the same page? When people aren't together physically, how can they foster a positive team culture?
Although managing a hybrid team may appear daunting, it is entirely possible. This article will explore ways for your entire team to be happy and productive, regardless of where they choose to work.
But first… What is a Hybrid Team?
A Hybrid Team means that employees can choose where they complete their work, and businesses allow them to do so. In other words, whether it is a few days a month or a couple of days a week, many workplaces have begun allowing office-based employees to split their working time between the office and home.
In the last year, employers have realised that employees remain engaged and productive when working remotely. The hybrid approach to working also helps employers attract and retain employees, allowing them to enjoy a better work-life balance. Your vacancies can also be opened to a wider talent pool that is no longer restricted by geography.
8 ways to successfully engage & manage a hybrid team long-term
There are some challenges when working with others who are not in the exact physical location. Therefore, as an employer, what can you do to engage and manage your team effectively?
1. Hire wisely
You must hire for the correct skillsets when you're recruiting in a hybrid model workplace. Candidates should be results-driven, motivated, and able to work independently. Additionally, punctuality, flexibility, and previous experience in remote work are desirable traits. Above all, adaptability and teamwork remain vital soft skills no matter where your staff is based, as it shows that the employee will be able to manage a good work ethic both remote and on-site.
2. Create and set expectations
Assign clear expectations and responsibilities in hybrid teams so that all the employees, whether they choose to be in the office or at home on that day, can work together effectively and know who is responsible for what.
3. Create a schedule
As staff members work from different locations, it is imperative that everyone knows and understands where team members will be located each week. Therefore, it is advisable to set up a shared group calendar to see their everyday schedules. This way, the team can arrange essential meetings for face-to-face collaboration on the days where the whole team is in the office.
4. Never overlook communication
If you employ a hybrid working model, you may have employees who work predominantly or exclusively from home. Therefore, they do not have the opportunity to interact with one another face-to-face. Whenever possible, communicate with remote team members via email, phone call or video call. Regular communication will help those who choose to be remote feel included as a part of the team.
Additionally, avoid unexpected in-person meetings. While a meeting with colleagues in person can be a valuable tool for collaboration, team building, and problem-solving, it excludes staff not at the office on that day. Scheduling a virtual meeting to involve all relevant stakeholders would be much better than making decisions at that given moment. The extra effort may seem excessive but involving all the appropriate people at the beginning will ensure that the best decision is made.
Most importantly, every remote employee must have access to the company's main computer system, cloud storage, and communication tools.
5. Focus on the mental health and wellbeing of remote employees
Even though hybrid workplaces offer many benefits, remote staff members may feel isolated or lonely. Additionally, it can be challenging to identify an employee with difficulties if you don't conduct regular video check-ins. As a result, ensure that you prioritise your staff's mental health in a hybrid workplace.
6. Ensure fairness in all working situations by understanding their benefits
Working mainly from home, may make it easier for employees to maintain a satisfactory work-life balance than those who spend most of their time at the office. Therefore, it would be beneficial for you to encourage your office-based team members to strike the same balance by giving them the ability to go pick up their children from school or go for a walk with their dog during working hours. In addition, it is crucial to set an example for healthy working behaviour yourself, regardless of where you work.
7. Ensure that rewards and benefits are equitable
Rewarding or providing office-based benefits to remote workers, like yoga classes at the office, celebratory lunches, or a discounted gym membership near the office, can demotivate remote workers who cannot partake in these activities daily. As a result, if you offer rewards that are not accessible to those who work mainly remotely, you should at least offer alternatives similar to those enjoyed by office-based employees. If, for example, lunch is being paid for by an employer, you might want to consider sending food delivery directly to your remote workers so that they are not left out.
8. Create opportunities to physically bring your team together
By arranging occasional opportunities for your hybrid team members to meet face-to-face, you can strengthen the team's unity and harmony. Having the entire team can provide an excellent opportunity for bonding.
With all things to consider, the hybrid model may be a viable option for you. If you are still on the fence about offering or maintaining the hybrid work model, we have consolidated the below list of pros and cons that may help in making that decision.
Pros of a Hybrid Model
1) Happier employees: Remote working might be popular with some employees, while others prefer the social aspect of working in an office. Providing them with autonomy over their environment is when they truly shine.
2) Bigger talent pool: Regardless of the location, you can search for the top talent when you have an opening on your team. When geographic barriers are removed, you have access to a wider pool of candidates. Non-hybrid companies struggle to fill positions because of skill gaps based on local recruitment.
3) Increased employee retention: The happier your employees are, the longer they'll stay. When you provide this level of flexibility to your team members, they will be less likely to seek out other opportunities.
Cons of a Hybrid Model
1) Strained social connections: Developing relationships with colleagues carries a lot of weight, and when everyone is spread out, it can feel difficult to forge these bonds. This can be especially hard for new starters and those new to the workforce altogether.
2) Lack of visibility: Managers have a more challenging time keeping track of their employees when they are dispersed. This is also a concern for employees. Some employees feel that being "out of sight and out of mind" may negatively affect their career prospects.
Over the past year and a half, the hybrid model has become something almost every company has had to consider. Need help finding employees that fit into the work model you provide? Our consultants have the customised solution for you. Reach out to our team today to secure the best talent that will fit into your company, whether have chosen to incorporate the hybrid model or not.