According to the CIPD, the pandemic has brought the hybrid workplace environment forward by 4 to 5 years. People have always wanted greater flexibility, but it wasn't until we were forced to work from home during national lockdowns that the majority of people realised how easily remote work contributes towards their overall job satisfaction.
Presenteeism is no longer a prerequisite for productivity, so our concept of where work should take place has changed for good. Hybrid work facilitates some employees working from home, while others work from the office.
The Hays Salary Guide 21/22 reflects this change in the global psychology towards office work. Just 7% of people wish to return to the same full-time office work they held before the pandemic. Everyone else wants some degree of hybrid flexibility, which may involve:
- Whole teams who always work remotely, or always work in the office.
- Employees who work some of their time at home, and some of their time in the office.
- People who do most of their tasks from home, but perform specific tasks in the office.
Likewise, Hays also reports that 63% of employers envision their employees working at least some of the time remotely within the next 12 months. Remote work is now the norm, so hybrid work is here to stay for the long term.
How Should Your Business Manage A Hybrid Team?
Organisations need to implement agile policies to establish a strong hybrid work ethic. Everybody should feel like their contribution is valuable, without compromising on their personal productivity or losing sight of their own career progression.
Take a look at our 6-point framework for managing successful hybrid teams below:
1. Set Clear Expectations for Accountability
Accountability makes or breaks the hybrid team. There needs to be clear guidance on how workflows should be implemented. Employees must know their deadlines, and should feel comfortable with what they themselves are responsible for doing each day.
It's equally important for the successes, failures, and daily progress to be measured and shared amongst the team. This avoids people passing the blame. It gives people a sense of security to take better control over their day.
2. Be Intentional About Communication
Hybrid teams need to be fully intentional about communication. Clear rules of engagement define what actually needs to be a meeting, and what can be kept less formal via chat or email.
Office workers should balance spur-of-the-moment informal meetings, and when these do happen, managers must be proactive about communicating the minutes to those working at home, so as not to leave anybody out of important updates.
Successful hybrid communication is about being disciplined with presenteeism.
Employees need to be included in meetings regardless of where they are, and those live streaming to an in-person meeting should be linked into the side-line banter, which should be curbed where possible.
Appropriate chat, open messaging hours, periods of focus time, and the correct procedure for collaboration will go a long way towards making everybody's work experience positive and productive.
3. Have An Unwavering Company Culture
One of the biggest challenges hybrid teams face is a natural 'us and them' mentality, which can cause a casual rivalry between the home workers and the office workers.
While this may spur teams located in the same place to form a healthy bond, it can be harmful when one team is made to feel inferior.
Successful hybrid teams are all about creating a unified culture, with strong interpersonal relationships across all locations. When you give people a sense of belonging you give them a reason to feel valued, which makes them love their job and the business they work for.
The trick is to hire for agility. Look for self-starters who are output-focused, punctual, and reliable to get their work done autonomously. If you choose people who genuinely enjoy working in hybrid teams, then you don't need to reinvent the wheel to manage them effectively.
4. Facilitate Fairness & Empathy
Rewards culture is about having flexible rewards which are perceived as equal. This can be a physical reward, such as bringing in a box of donuts to praise those who have worked hard on a tedious project. It may also be attention reward, like giving your time to employees who have questions or need support.
While rewards can be different for teams or individuals, it's essential that people feel they carry the same weight. Everyone should have the same opportunity to succeed, and everybody wants to feel recognised.
Fairness in hybrid teams requires management to think outside the box.
If the office team gets a free lunch, then the hybrid team should perhaps have their lunch delivered, or be given a coupon to redeem a bought lunch closer to home.
Essentially, all rewards need to be given on output quality, and all employees must be given the same opportunity to produce quality work. This keeps things fair, and motivates all employees to perform at their best.
5. Nourish The Sense Of Inclusion
Inclusion inspires hybrid teams. Inclusion gives people a reason to work well at home, and it stops those in the office from feeling like they don't see their colleagues.
Managers and individuals are equally responsible for avoiding isolation, and for fostering enthusiasm.
If quality brainstorming happens on the fly, then let people know and send info to those who didn't attend. Ask for feedback, so those who were not included also have their chance to contribute.
Keep an eye on mental health. People do well when they're informed, included, and valued for their contribution. If teams are feeling demotivated - or complain that they never know what's going on - then nourishing their sense of inclusion will almost certainly rectify the situation.
6. Implement The Right Hybrid Structure
Hybrid working is the future, but every business is different, and every team requires a unique way of working.
Help your teams to understand how they work best and support them to achieve productivity. If people can see how their work is benefiting from hybrid working, then they're likely to develop that success even further themselves.
Regardless of your hybrid team dynamic, all hybrid teams need thoughtful structure.
Give your teams clear guidance on core hours but allow flexibility whenever possible. Have a system in place to communicate where people plan to work so they can plan the best moments to be in the office or home.
Also set boundaries for home and work.
People shouldn't feel guilty about unplugging at the end of the day, even if they're just moving to a different part of their own home.
Managing Hybrid Teams Is About Having Thoughtful Application
Balancing presenteeism, expectation, inclusion, accountability, mental health, and performance output is a continuous juggling act. People might feel like they're spinning all the plates, but the right tools can help.
DuoMe offers a scheduling tool for hybrid teams to help people understand when are the best days to work from the office. This lets people collaborate well, and plan their best work for the right location.
Hybrid Teams Are Here To Stay.
With the right support and clear policies to navigate individual needs, hybrid teams create a positive experience with enhanced output. This benefits both individuals and the people they work with in equal measure.