The world changed a lot in 2020 – you don’t need us to tell you that.
Some of those changes have been negative and others positive. For many, the realization that flexible working hours and flexible working locations are a real possibility is a positive outcome. That is why many businesses are now exploring how hybrid team working might fit into their future plans.
In this article, we offer some advice on how to manage a hybrid team in 2021.
What is Hybrid Working?
It might sound futuristic, but ‘hybrid working’ is a simple concept to understand.
Unlike traditional working which is typically 100% focused on in-office team working. Hybrid working finds a fine line between team members undertaking their roles in-office and out-of-office. This could work in any combination of ways.
For example, one business may undertake hybrid working where some of the team members work exclusively from home and others work exclusively from the office. Another business may choose to allow team members to work for a few days from home and expect them to be in the office for the rest of the working week.
How hybrid working would work for your business will depend on your individual circumstances. But regardless of how it works, anyone managing a hybrid team will face many of the same challenges – we offer some advice on how to overcome these below.
Define Responsibilities & Accountability
When your team is working from various locations, it can be more difficult to manage them and their time directly. As managers’ and team members’ in-office/out-of-office time may be different, hybrid working usually leads to less face-time between the two.
Therefore, it is crucial that each member of your team is clear on what their responsibilities are. This is simple to achieve if you already have a detailed job description in place. You could also set clear SMART goals and set up regular progress meetings to hold each team member accountable for achieving what is needed in their given area.
With working locations being flexible, boundaries can easily become a confusing subject.
As a team leader, it is your responsibility to ensure that all team members know exactly when and where they are supposed to be working. This can be delivered as a shared schedule, highlighting when each team member is expected to be on-premises and when they are working from home. Transparency of this schedule will also help other team members understand where everyone else on their team is and how to collaborate with them.
Find a Good Team & Project Management Tool
Out-of-office working has become easier to achieve in recent years due to the new and widely available team and project management tools. In fact, many of these tools are free to use for team management with limited features and users.
Just a few examples of these include:
These tools vary in their functionality, so are worth exploring to find which one best suits your needs.
Introduce Unified Communications
Unifying your communication tools such as your phone system, instant messaging, screen sharing, SMS, and more is crucial when ensuring efficient working within a hybrid team.
With unified communication tools, all these aspects of communication can be accessed and used from one central location on multiple devices such as a mobile phone, desk phone, or desktop computer. When these tools are hosted on the cloud, they can also be accessed from anywhere, meaning your team can seamlessly communicate with each other and customers whether they are at your office, sat at home, or sipping a cocktail on a beach.
Help Create Productive Environments
Businesses often spend a lot of time and money investing in their office space. This is because they know that a comfortable, enjoyable environment helps keep teams happy and productive. But this can be a little more tricky when it comes to home working.
However, investing time into understanding your team’s at-home requirements and investing in helping them meet these requirements will ensure motivation whatever the location. Practical tools like laptops, printers, and webcams are obvious considerations, but thinking outside the box and providing your team with items such as quality headphones and a standing desk can help create a truly awesome and productive office environment.
Cater to Individual Needs
As your team will be splitting their time between the office and home it can be a little tricky to ensure they always have what they need to get the job done. Setting regular meetings with all your team members, whether in person or via video call, is a great way to keep constant contact and offer them the support and resources they need.
Carefully splitting your time between team members is crucial, as it can be easy to focus on one individual or group who are easier to communicate with such as those who are in the office at the same time as you.
Encourage Social Interaction
Hybrid teams often suffer when it comes to social interaction levels. These interactions are crucial to keeping people motivated and working together closely as a team. As a team leader, it is your responsibility to provide a platform and encourage social engagement between team members.
If you opt to use team management tools such as Slack, simply creating a space for general chat and interaction can be a good way to encourage people to communicate about non-work-related topics.
You could also set up weekly team talks or online events which offer a welcome break from the day-to-day. This could be anything from a quiz to a general catch-up over coffee.
Managing Hybrid Working in 2021
Hybrid working is going to play a big part in the future of many businesses. As technology continues to develop, it will become increasingly simple to facilitate productive working from home environments.
The flexibility that hybrid working offers employees is also likely to grow in popularity, providing businesses that invest in this form of working a competitive edge in hiring new talent.