Now that organizations are starting to return to the office, they’re considering their options and thinking about what would work best for their employees. This return to the office lead to the challenges of managing hybrid teams.
Currently there are three main choices:
- Everyone comes back to the office.
- Everyone works remotely and there is no longer an office location to go to.
- Offer a hybrid model where employees can work wherever they wish – either remotely or in the office or a combination of both.
The third option is rapidly becoming the preferred choice for a vast majority of employees. A recent survey by KPMG Canada reported that over three in four Canadians like the idea of a hybrid model and 71% believe a hybrid workplace should be the standard.
What’s clear is that the hybrid workplace is here to stay. What’s not clear is how to deal with the challenges that come with it. The KPMG Canada survey also found that 81% of employees say their managers need to be better trained to effectively manage a hybrid workplace team.
Four challenges for managers of hybrid workplaces
If you’re a manager, you know that the hybrid workplace offers attractive benefits for your staff as well as your company. But it also poses a number of challenges to be implemented effectively. Companies have to be careful not to create a two-tier workforce where the in-office people get preferential treatment and better career opportunities than remote workers.
It is possible to create the best of both worlds for your entire team. Here are four key challenges you need to address.
1. Avoiding unconscious bias toward more visible employees
49% of employees are concerned they could be discriminated against or be overlooked for job opportunities if they wanted to keep working remotely. As a manager how do you ensure that your less visible remote workers are treated the same as the people who come into the office every day?
Periodically ask your team members if they can identify any patterns of negative bias in the team. Then act to remove them. You can help to prevent proximity basis during a meeting by having a predetermined agenda. Circulate the agenda ahead of time and ask for ideas to ensure that everyone has a chance to contribute.
Ask each team member to answer the following questions: “What resources and support do you need to make your work-from-home experience better?” and “Where might we run into challenges that we haven’t considered?”
At Virtual Team Builders, our training course Managing Hybrid Organizations Successfully helps managers explore challenges to hybrid teams and brainstorm practical ways to deal with them. You’ll determine the best hybrid model for your team based on your role, tasks, personal preferences, and work styles and discover how to adapt your leadership style based on the needs and the configuration of your hybrid team.
2. Maintaining company culture
The meaning of work has changed for people since becoming remote. What happens to your workplace culture when ‘office life” for your teams can be anywhere? How do companies adapt their culture to align with changing attitudes?
Our course Creating an Inclusive Hybrid Workplace provides training for managers on how to create an inclusive and connected hybrid team. You’ll uncover techniques to ensure intentional collaboration and discuss strategies to ensure equal visibility of face-to-face employees and remote staff.
3. Keeping everyone connected
Remote workers need full access to the same information as in-office staff. But how do you ensure that? There’s a huge opportunity for knowledge loss when not everyone is connected. Information from impromptu discussions after a meeting can end up being shared with face-to-face workers first and may never be passed along to virtual workers until much later, or not at all.
Technology is key for supporting seamless connectivity. A good place to start is by having everyone attend virtually on their computers whether they’re in the office or remote. Work with your teams to ensure that decisions are made while everyone is online or connected. Messaging platforms such as Slack and Microsoft Teams also work well to keep everyone in the loop with information sharing and necessary actions.
Our course How to Optimize Your Hybrid Team Meetings gives you strategies for designing and running effective meetings and events for all attendees, whether they’re remote or in-person.
4. Humanizing the workplace
Having good working relationships and building resilience are necessary for employees to be engaged and productive at work. But finding things that you have in common to create those positive relationships that humanize the workplace can be difficult when co-workers are operating in different locations. Finding a common personal link can be as simple as sharing an activity you are passionate about. Learning about others activates the parts of your brain that allow us to rapidly form relationships. By knowing someone’s story—where they came from, what they do, and who you might know in common—relationships are formed.
Look for ways to foster close working relationships for members of your hybrid teams. Encourage your staff to connect with each other outside of meetings. Suggest they schedule a virtual coffee or virtual walk with a colleague. Have a portal where people can share personal or professional information such as what they did that weekend and what they have coming up during the week. You can also create a task force that meets weekly to brainstorm ideas on how to boost team engagement or host virtual lunches where work isn’t discussed.
Our Humanizing the hybrid workplace training looks at how you can improve the emotional resilience of your staff and create high-performance hybrid teams that have the ability to “roll with the punches”.
Companies are recognizing the opportunities of the hybrid model, along with the challenges they present. What’s clear is that managers will have to work harder at connecting with all of their employees to create a consistent experience for everyone, regardless of whether they work in the office or remotely. This is how your company will be successful with the hybrid model.
At Virtual Team Builders we specialize in training leaders and managers how to enable virtual teams to work seamlessly. As hybrid workplace experts, we can help you address the challenges of the hybrid model and enable greater productivity, connectivity and satisfaction for your team. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Want personalized advice for how to take your hybrid team to the next level? Complete our Hybrid Team Performance Survey and get a FREE 45-minute consultation with our training team!