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The Hybrid Future: Resetting Expectations

20th Apr 2021
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Over a year ago, many organisations had a quick ‘baptism of fire’ as they quickly adapted to working from home and virtual meetings popped up all over the world to flex to this new way of working. It’s fair to say some worked well, whereas others struggled, whether it was due to technologies, working practices or simply preferred styles of working.

In The News

In The News - Resetting Expectations
The Leadership Coaches

For many organisations, the future looks set to be a mixture of virtual and hybrid operating models. Last year, organisations had little choice and no time to plan for this; it was predominantly a reactive approach to leading virtually. This year, however, there is a choice, and in this blog, we’d like to share the idea of agreeing and resetting expectations as your organisation evolves to its next normal.

When things go wrong, it is often because expectations haven’t been met in one of these areas.

Adair's Action Centred Leadership Model
The Leadership Coaches

Achieving success, then, is about seeking, clarifying and agreeing on expectations about:

  • The task
  • The team
  • The individual

To achieve these mutual expectations, there is a need for an open and honest discussion on what is essential and agreed upon in terms of how people wish to work with one another in a hybrid or virtual environment.

Practical Toolkit

Below is an activity you can conduct with your own team to agree on expectations that can be used as a team charter for how you wish to operate going forward.

Before you start the activity, here are a few tips for facilitating the expectations meeting virtually

Tips for facilitating this virtually:

  • Be prepared with visuals and timelines
  • Send the questions in advance and share how you plan to approach this, for example, a series of bitesize workshops – we recommend two workshops; tweak and task and 1:1s for individual expectations
  • Where possible, have a PA present for minute taking and action planning
  • As a leader/facilitator, be prepared, try using online tools that others can contribute to e.g. Mural,, Padlet or the whiteboard on your video conferencing software – make it fun/interactive and engaging
  • Give people a voice, regardless of location, in the office, or remote, ensure each person has the opportunity to contribute 
  • Consider using a six thinking hats style or just two hats – positive/negative – it encourages all participants to think through alternative perspectives
  • Take breaks – encourage 5-15 minute breaks at regular intervals

Agree on Task Expectations

When discussing expectations about the task, you might wish to consider these prompts:

Clear expectations on the task, roles, responsibilities & timescales.

What does a good outcome look like from an organisational objective perspective?

What tools will be used to monitor and communicate progress?

How frequently does the task need reviewing?

How can the teamwork in an agile manner to achieve the task?

How can we ensure silos don’t continue/form? 

Add your own…

Agree on Team expectations

When discussing expectations about the task, you might wish to consider these prompts:

Where are the team based? Time zones? What does this mean for us?

Which communication tools do we prefer to use for our team communications?

What is our team meeting etiquette; the camera on/off, be prepared, run 50 mins not 60 mins?

What boundaries do we want to set for contacting others/expecting responses within the team?

What social activities do we want, how often, how formal/informal do we want this to be?

How will the team fail fast and learn from mistakes?

Where are our strengths and development areas – how do we support/frustrate one another? How will we open up these conversations virtually?

How will we embrace our diversity rather than seeing it as a blocker?

How do we further inclusion?

Add your own…

Agree on Individual Expectations

When discussing individual expectations, you might wish to consider these prompts:

What does each individual need to be their best? From their team, from the task, from you as their leader?

What has got in the way of them being their best before?

How do they prioritise their wellbeing?

What’s their idea of a good connection with their leader? Formal/informal, progress/personal/social?

What are your expectations as the leader of the individual?

How can this be achieved in the virtual world? Consider peer-to-peer co-working circles – online hangouts, in a different location, e.g. Coffee House, etc.

Add your own…

Once you’ve conducted these activities, each person has clarity about what is agreed and expected, and these are strong foundations to build on. We suggest making a note of these through a team charter or simply ‘agreed expectations’ and share with the team. Add it for a team meeting review once a month so that you can all review and identify what’s working well and what can be improved.

Good luck putting this into practice, and if you’re seeking further inspiration about leading beyond the pandemic, you might find our complimentary workbook on ‘Leading the Recovery with Emotional Intelligence’ a helpful resource.


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