The pandemic made people realize that they can be productive regardless of where they work from. Now that organizations are opening their doors for employees to return to work, some workers are reluctant to go back.
In many cases, employees are demanding some form of flexibility with some preferring to work fully remotely and others a few days in the office and the remaining ones remotely.
This means that managers now have a task to manage a hybrid team where some members are working remotely and others on location. Of course, this comes with a set of unique challenges.
As an employer or manager, you need adopt a range of foolproof strategies in order to manage your team effectively. Here are seven tips that are likely to make you successful.
1. Strive for inclusion and fairness
The ‘them and us’ culture can easily creep in when team members work from different locations. The part of the team working remotely can feel isolated and left out, especially where the manager predominantly works on-premises with the other part of the team.
Making every team member feel included is important for productivity and teamwork. That is why you should strive to make everyone feel as part of the team.
Here is what you can do:
- Offer equal support and time to each team player
- If giving rewards, ensure that they are fair to all
- Share decisions made at water cooler meetings with remote workers
- Find ways to bring everyone together physically
- Include and involve all members in team meetings
2. Develop the necessary skills
We can agree that managing hybrid teams comes with new challenges. You have to make everyone feel like they are part of the team even when working from different locations. In addition, meetings with some people working remotely and others on-location can be challenging.
For these reasons, you need strong time management skills, facilitation skills, project management skills, and communication skills. Now is the time to improve on these skills if you haven’t already done so.
The good thing is that you can get most of the training that you need online. For instance, if you want to improve your project management skills, you can access PMP training online from wherever you are.
3. Provide all team members with the right tools
When workers have the right tools for their work, you are setting them up for success. Make sure that you focus on each member’s individual needs and situation.
For instance, for remote workers, it might mean providing others with computers, webcams, headsets and Wi-Fi. This will help ensure that they get their work done and keep in touch with the rest of the team as required.
4. Set clear rules and expectations
When team members are working from different locations, ensuring that everyone knows what to expect eliminates speculations and allows people to focus on productivity.
Be clear on the time that you are going to communicate and through which channels, how workers need to structure their hours, time for synchronous work where workers work in different time zones, which people need to be in which meetings, which questions have to wait for a meeting, and which warrant a phone call or text and more.
5. Foster proper communication
In addition to setting clear rules and expectations, proper communication is key to the success of hybrid teams. Without proper communication, you risk confusion finding its way to the team, stalling and delaying projects.
For proper and clear communication, decide on the communication tools for your team and the best time to use each of them. Involve the team in choosing the tools that they are comfortable with.
In addition, keep in mind that communication is asynchronous most of the time. Communicate important updates in meetings, but have a channel for written communication where each member can follow the conversation when they go online.
6. Hire the right fit
How difficult or easy your work is as a manager depends on the people that you are managing.
If you are hiring a remote employee, your work will be much easier if you find a person who is cut out for remote work. Find individuals who are self-driven, results oriented, punctual and responsive on top of prior experience in remote work and academic qualifications.
Moreover, strong teamwork and adaptability skills are ideal for all candidates whether working in the office or remotely.
7. Don’t forget mental health and wellbeing
Working in a hybrid team isn’t easy for employees either. Members working in the office might feel the pressure to work harder since they are in close proximity with the management.
On the other hand, remote workers might feel as if they are required to work more to prove their trustworthiness. Whichever way, employees have to adapt in some way.
You as a manager have a task of ensuring that everyone is well mentally and physically. Take your time to listen to what they feel about their work and offer support whenever needed.
It is clear that hybrid work is here to stay. Managers are better off finding ways to cope and manage their teams best. Each team is different and so are the needs and requirements. Find what works for your team and capitalize on it. The above points can be a great guideline to get you thinking about what you need to do.