Adapting to managing remote teams was a difficult task, so it is essential to understand how to manage hybrid teams if your organisation is planning a flexible return to work.
What is hybrid working?
Prior to the pandemic very few organisations offered remote working, with just 5% of the workforce in the UK working remotely. Now, 63% of employers are expected to offer some form of hybrid working to employees.
Some employees have found that working from home is suitable for their needs and has improved their work-life balance. Others, particularly younger employees, miss the social element of the office. However, the majority of employees want a balanced approach to work with a degree of flexibility.
Sounds simple enough? Unfortunately not quite. From the practical considerations and safety details to your team’s mental health and wellbeing, there’s lots to consider when it comes to managing a hybrid team. The CIPD advises that a move to hybrid working is likely to require a significant culture change, and managers need to be prepared.
What is a hybrid team?
Simply put, a hybrid team uses a flexible style of working, as opposed to the traditional 9 to 5 week based in the office. A hybrid team can take any form, from alternating teams on alternating days to flexi-hours or a build-your-own style of scheduling.
Post-COVID and the success of remote working for many organisations, a hybrid team is commonly referred to as a blend of working from home and working in the office. But this new style of working is unchartered territory for many managers and raises questions about the best ways to manage hybrid teams.
How to manage hybrid teams
Hybrid working is likely to put an even greater strain on managers who will have to manage and support employees and build team understanding in new ways. Some managers may need additional training and support to understand how to manage hybrid teams.
Managing a team of people who are located in different places presents a variety of challenges. For example, geographically dispersed teams may struggle to communicate across different time zones, you may face difficulties with engagement, and the dreaded “us vs. them” mentality where friction appears between the majority in-office workers and the majority home-workers.
A good first place to start is choosing the right hybrid strategy for your team. Luckily, there are a few options you could try.
Different teams on different days
A rota with a few members working the first half of the week and the remaining members working the second half is a great way to keep your team safe and healthy, especially during Covid. If either group comes into contact with Covid and needs to isolate at home, the other half of your team will remain protected.
Everyone in on the same days, with the rest of the week at home
For some employees, the office is an opportunity to socialise and collaborate in a group setting. Lockdown has hugely restricted our social lives and had a significant impact on company culture.
Working from home on set days, such as Monday – Wednesday with Thursday and Friday allocated for the office will give you the opportunity to manage everyone in your hybrid team under the same conditions.
A build-your-own schedule
Probably the most flexible approach for your team would be an optional rota, where employees can book in the days they would like to work each week. However, you need to ensure you have both the capacity and health and safety regulations in place for potentially your entire team, or a system for limiting these numbers.
One week in the office a month
A suitable option for more geographically dispersed teams, one week out of every month allows team members with families or those living further away the opportunity to spend 3 weeks a month at home whilst still contributing to the in-office company culture.
The pandemic has shown that 9-5 isn’t always the most productive time for everyone. Early risers can be raring to go first thing in the morning, whilst night owls may find themselves working extra hard after lunch.
Many organisations are taking a new approach, where employees can work between 7am-7pm, and fit their preferred working hours into this time frame. If it’s feasible in your office, you could combine the flexi-hours approach with any of the above, allowing your people to truly build their own hybrid employee experience.
Communicating with your hybrid team
Communication will be essential for successfully managing hybrid teams. All employees should receive information at the same time, regardless of their location. If your “in-office” employees hear any of the latest news or updates before you’ve sent out a team memo then your remote employees may feel ostracised and resentful.
Lines of communication should stay open at all times for your hybrid team. If someone requires help from home, it should be a simple process to contact you for assistance. This could be as easy as keeping your slack alerts open and visible throughout the day, or giving your team full visibility of your diary to book a private meeting.
Furthermore, meetings should be conducted fairly, giving everyone an opportunity to talk. It can be easy for the “in-office” team to hijack a meeting when the other half are tuned in via video conference. It is essential that one is not given preferential treatment over the other to avoid conflict in your hybrid team.
Managing your Hybrid Team’s Wellbeing and Engagement
Similarly to adapting to remote working, not everyone is going to be pleased with a new, hybrid team arrangement. But as a manager, staying on top of your people’s needs is vital to maintain a productive, healthy and happy environment.
Frustratingly, a lot of the time employees can’t pinpoint an exact reason for feeling subdued, disengaged or demotivated. Often this is because we have a lot of subconscious feelings about work and our relationships with the people around us.
WeThrive Bubbles are the ideal solution to help understand how to manage hybrid teams. The Bubble gives each employee a personal space to identify how they feel about work with a self-help survey. Employees receive instant feedback and recommendations for resolving these needs, whilst managers also receive recommendations for big picture changes they should make to support their team. Furthermore, managers also receive targeted learning content, and have the option for additional eLearning training.
Try the free demo survey now to get a quick insight into your employee experience and see how it works. No email, no credit card, no nonsense required.
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