Founder and CEO Vibrant Thinking
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Hybrid teams: how to set them up for success

Remote working may not be possible 100% of the time for 100% of employees going forward, but many businesses are now considering a hybrid model, where some work in the office and others work from home. How, then, can organisations get the best from these kinds of teams and avoid a ‘them and us’ culture creeping in?

1st Sep 2020
Founder and CEO Vibrant Thinking
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“Arguably, the Covid-19 pandemic has changed the world of work more radically than any other single event in our working lifetime” – that was the finding of a new report, Resetting normal: defining the new era of work, a global study of 8,000 participants conducted by Adecco.

To create a successful hybrid organisation means moving away from old structures, processes and methods of communication and being prepared to discover a new way of working.

The study found that 77% of executive management think their business will benefit from increased flexibility around office and remote working. Employees on average want to spend nearly 50% of their week working remotely, with 75% of them feeling it was important to maintain flexibility over their working schedule.

Flexible working and hybrid teams (some working in the office and some working remotely) are not a new phenomenon but they are set to become the new normal for office working post Covid-19.    

Opportunities and threats of hybrid teams

Benefits to organisations adopting this new way of working include increased productivity, motivation and retention of employees. Those who choose not to change risk being left behind.  

It does not, however, come without challenges. These include a ‘them and us’ culture creeping in which in turn leads to a reduced motivation to work as a team, misunderstandings, withholding of information and lack of trust.  

To create a successful hybrid organisation means moving away from old structures, processes and methods of communication and being prepared to discover a new way of working. Organisations that embrace this change and show agility and creative thinking in their approach will reap the rewards of retaining talent in the short term, and attracting top talent in the future (from anywhere in the world).

Here are ten things you can start to action in your organisation to get ahead of the curve for hybrid working.

1. Understand first

Invest time to really understand your employee’s preferences with regards to their working environment. Ask them what their challenges have been and what positives they experienced through working remotely during lockdown. This can inform a starting point for a new working culture.

2. Remember that there are no rules

If there is one thing the Covid-19 pandemic has taught us, it’s that the impossible is possible. Back in January, who would have believed it was possible for the vast majority of office workers to be working from home? As we move forward to create a new working culture, it’s critical to remember this and not be constrained by rigid mindsets or rules that shaped the way we worked previously.

3. Encourage shared goals

Strong teams feel a sense of identity, working towards a common goal. In a hybrid environment it’s even more important that the shared goal is understood and individuals can see how their work contributes to that goal and value the work others do to achieve the aim.

Culture Pioneers link

4. Create a daily habit to work on redesigning your organisation

Find 30 minutes every day (ideally at the start of your working day) to focus on this project. This will create momentum.

5. Learn fast

Trial different approaches and processes, learn what works and what doesn’t by implementing quickly. Don’t be tempted to spend weeks or months perfecting an intervention – speed of learning is key here.

6. Create shared experiences

Adopt the same working principles for everyone whether they are working from home or the office to reduce the likelihood of a ‘them and us’ culture creeping in.      

7. Measure output

Performance is measured on results and not on where or how the work is done. Central to achieving this is to have work and development plans for everyone, with specific and measurable goals for them to deliver, which ladders up into the overall team and then company goals

8. Set out your meeting etiquette

Decide how meetings with any virtual participants are to be run upfront.    Potential options include:

  • Everyone connecting separately so it’s a shared experience.
  • Attendees in the office connect together from a meeting room but with an etiquette that includes only talking to the camera, not having side discussions, facing the screen not each other.

9. Encourage informal virtual lunch and coffee/tea breaks

Don’t underestimate the power of informal virtual get togethers over lunch or for a coffee/tea break. These breaks can stimulate that osmosis of information that would occur naturally in the office. This should be encouraged as mixed groups comprising of those in the office and working remotely.

10. Recognise, celebrate and capture everything the organisation has achieved over the past few challenging months    

It’s always important to take time out to celebrate achievements, but at this juncture it is also important to recognise just how much change has happened over such a short space of time to inspire the organisation for the future.

In summary, hybrid teams could offer a solution for businesses looking to reap the benefits that flexible and remote working bring in terms of employee experience and retaining top talent. It should, however, be applied mindfully to ensure that all members of your team feel included and that communication between office and home based staff flows effectively.

Interested in this topic? Read Employee experience: why teams of the future will be more dolphin and less worker bee.

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