With high hopes of returning to the office, we may find a rise in hybrid teams where team members work both in the office and remotely. While it’s a step in the right direction it’s another steep learning curve for many. What’s the difference from the whole team working remotely to having some of the team working in the office? Here are some challenges and opportunities you may not have thought of.
Harder to make decisions and manage conflict.
Harder to have effective and engaging team meetings.
Creating a level playing field for all parties. Whether they’re in the office of not.
Expanded work hours.
Increased innovation and productivity.
Technology that enables real-time collaboration over large distances.
Keystones for effective management of remote workers
Define goals clearly
Ask for feedback
Check-in regularly and do it via video
Lead by example
Make it easy to communicate and collaborate constantly
While many of the keystones for managing remote workers apply to hybrid teams, such as communication and shared vision, you will also need to ensure that each worker is treated fairly.
How to create a level playing field
People can feel left out for both real and imagined reasons. The missed office celebrations and getting company news and updates last can make a remote worker feel less important and disconnected from the team. Whilst the office workers can often feel like the remote workers are getting the better end of the deal by having more flexibility on their hours and dress codes etc.
As usual, there is a mix of accurate and completely insane perceptions at work here. As a leader, it’s up to you to identify potential problems and address them before things get ugly. Leaders need to be aware of these dynamics before they become the source of real problems, like broken trust or resentment that can damage productivity and lead to employee turnover.
4 helpful habits to keep things fair
Ensure company announcements are communicated to the whole team at the same time. It can be hurtful always being the last one to know and messages can become distorted if they are passed on from team member to team member.
When delegating, check if you’re delegating to the first person you see or the right person for the task. Have you given this person the task because they will excel and complete the task, or is it just convenient?
Let the team know when a task has been assigned to someone else. The perception of fairness is more important than actually being fair.
When holding a conference call by speakerphone, try actively soliciting input from the remote workers before taking comments from the room. It’s too easy to have the home team dominate the conversation, and the remote members think of themselves as excluded, even if that’s not the intent.
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