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Tips to Managing Hybrid Teams Effectively

Hybrid Team

Are you ready to step into the future of work, leading hybrid and remote teams towards emotional, financial, and professional growth? Or perhaps, you’re still harkening for the good old days of cubicle banter and corporate politics to return? While the former is ready to tackle the challenges of managing hybrid teams, the latter must adjust to the new normal. 

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has transformed our lives, and the corporate sector has witnessed numerous tumultuous changes. However, not at all these changes are disruptive, especially the work-from-home and hybrid workforce shifts. Research reveals that the last 1.5 years of remote working have enhanced productivity, satisfaction, focus, and wellbeing. 

Hybrid teams are a more viable and functional model to ensure project management efficiency, provided they are managed effectively. However, despite its advantages to employees and corporations, managing remote teams isn’t easy. Business leaders responded to these challenges by introducing the hybrid model – some employees co-located in the office and some working remotely. 

Keep reading to pick up some valuable insight into managing hybrid teams. 

Identifying & Overcoming Challenges 

Embracing the future of work and adjusting to the emerging trends is crucial for successfully implementing hybrid norms. Executive leaders, managers, recruiters, and employees must move past brick-and-mortar offices and stop using hybrid environments as temporary adjustments. Leaders and managers must understand their employees’ unique and varied challenges to navigate hybrid teams through obstacles. 

First and foremost, it’s crucial to avoid making decisions based on assumptions. Managers shouldn’t assume that all employees are content and comfortable with the work-from-home model or co-locating to the office. Unraveling the mindsets and attitudes of the employees is crucial to learning how to manage hybrid teams effectively. 

Millions of professionals worldwide struggling with social isolation are enthusiastic about returning to their desks and cubicles. Some employees are struggling with the lack of daycare and the remote learning challenges of their kids. Others are overwhelmed by health concerns and a heightened COVID-19 risk that prevents them from returning to the office. Managers and leaders must understand these unique circumstances and help employees overcome their challenges. 

Employees eager to stay home must constitute the remote team, while those who will likely perform well in the office can return. The more significant challenge is maintaining connectivity and collaboration between employees in the office and those working at home. Managers must help employees mark smooth transitions into the hybrid model with effective stress and workload management. Treating everyone fairly is another challenge that can weaken morale and undermine the company’s employer’s brand. 

Eliminate the “Us versus Them” Mentality 

Businesses need a united hybrid workforce to ensure active communication and collaboration between in-office and remote teams. Managers encounter numerous challenges while delegating responsibilities and maintaining accountability around deadlines and productivity. Employees working at home are bound to feel disconnected and demotivated, and employees co-located can resent their lack of active participation. 

These unhealthy emotions and stress responses are natural given the adjustment and adaptability challenges of the hybrid transition. But if neglected, they give rise to an “us versus them” mentality, similar to the culture of employees serving in different branches. Negative attitudes that undermine the challenges of remote employees or glorify the contributions of in-office teams are damaging for morale. It’s crucial to fight off prejudice and unhelpful attitudes and prioritize hybrid communication to strengthen the team spirit. 

Appointing hybrid leaders within in-office and remote teams can help tackle this issue. Managers should also organize meetings and events for in-office and remote employees to meet, interact and share their challenges. Geographically distributed employees are bound to face coordination, communication, and team collaboration constraints. But the right project management tools and a powerful hybrid conference platform can tackle these challenges effectively.

Lead with Compassion 

The human race is struggling to emerge from the shadows of a deadly pandemic, gripped with anxiety, stress, and overwhelming uncertainty. Every time we try to return to normalcy, another COVID-19 wave erupts and confines us inside our homes again. Employees working remotely and in the office are stressed and anxious about their well-being. Business leaders and managers must lead with compassion to maintain team cohesion and help employees combat stress. 

Managers must pay attention to the work experiences of remote and in-office employees to find strategies to empower them. Lending support is crucial in helping employees cope with the financial uncertainty, social challenges, and overwhelming stress of the ongoing pandemic. Managers must engage and communicate with all employees, scheduling one-on-one video calls with homebound professionals. 

Checking in on your employees and having candid conversations around their physical and mental health is crucial to showing concern. Ask your employees to share their routine challenges current circumstances and investigate what worries them. Offer support and advice, and if company policy allows, make provisions to ease their burdens to enhance their productivity. 

Tackling Resentment & Personal Struggles 

The global healthcare crisis and its tumultuous transformations have left us struggling to find our balance and move forward. Some employees are anxious that the remote work arrangement creates professional disadvantages to thwart their career advancement. Others are profoundly resentful and inconvenienced by the calls to return to the office space. Resentments, negative attitudes, and employee struggles will get in the way of productivity and profitability. 

Before undermining organizational decorum and productivity, managers must tackle these negative attitudes and struggles. The wisest strategy is creating a safe space for employees to share their feelings without fearing judgment or penalties. Let them open up about their worries, stressors, and anxieties to help them feel safe. Most importantly, show your willingness and ability to make improvements and provisions to ease their circumstances. 

New Protocols & Organizational Practices 

Shifting away from the comforts of familiarity is challenging, but take this opportunity to transform the organizational culture. The traditional norms and protocols that governed the corporate sphere are no longer applicable to hybrid models. It’s time to create and set new expectations by ushering in new strategies and corporate protocols. 

Building a savvy communication system equipped with digital tools is crucial to promoting connectivity and collaboration between in-office and remote teams. You need to set new protocols around communication, data access, meetings and feedback, decision-making, and leadership. Managers must also create new protocols around working hours, workloads, deadline management, and team collaboration. 

Final Thoughts 

Flexibility is a crucial ingredient as managers will have to compromise to ensure the success of the hybrid model. It’s time to lead from the heart to steer employees away from stress and encourage them towards enhanced productivity. 

More on this topic: 

The Importance of Employee Appreciation in a Remote Setting

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