Remote and hybrid work has led to employees having more flexibility and less stress over a commute. Overall, people who work remotely tend to be even more productive after the initial learning curve. But this can create a headache for management when it comes to organizing and running a team. How do people connect when some are in person and some are in different cities or even time zones?
No one wants to feel left out, especially when it comes to working you’ll be evaluated on. A pre-pandemic study showed that many remote workers felt left out of the in-office group. They felt isolated and even ignored when it came to working on projects and collaborating. This has changed some with the growth in remote and hybrid workplaces. However, there is still a balancing act that leaders and managers need to address.
Remote and hybrid workplaces offer a lot of benefits for employees and employers. But it may take work to come naturally as people adjust to new schedules and workstations. However, working well with people out of the office is perfectly possible. There are a lot of great strategies to help remote team members still feel connected and a part of the group, even when they aren’t physically in the room.
Hybrid Work Most people have heard of working remotely and not going into an office at all, but what exactly does hybrid mean? It can take a few different forms and even change depending on company preferences as people work.
A hybrid work model generally includes some employees who work in the office and some working remotely. Sometimes it can mean employees come to the office a few days a week and then stay home on other days. Or it could also mean employees can choose to go to work or stay home depending on their preferred schedule. Regardless of the forms, some people may be remote, and others may come in more often. And this can lead to remote employees missing out on in-person interactions.
While it’s beneficial to allow staff some flexibility to build schedules that work for them and promote a positive work environment, it can be challenging to navigate a hybrid workspace. How do you ensure that everyone is caught up on projects and work that needs to be done? How do you make sure everyone is communicating effectively and efficiently? These steps can point you in the right direction when working with people in the office and at home.
Hybrid Team Tips When you offer hybrid work, you can keep employees happy, hire from a wider talent pool, and provide something for everyone. But those team members who work remotely can easily fall off the map if they aren’t looped in. Even when working in person, it can be easy to forget a meeting from time to time. That only becomes more complicated when some people work remotely while others don’t.
Whether you have one team member who works remotely a few days a week or half the staff works from home, centering your processes around remote workers will help include everyone.
When you’re accommodating team members that work in different places, you want to ensure everyone can access work tools wherever they are. If you work with many different documents, make sure they are shareable and available for all staff who need them. This is a great way to help everyone do their work remotely or in person and be able to share access. If someone cannot see something unless they are in the office, it isn’t remote-friendly and can leave people feeling dismissed or undervalued. It also inhibits work from flowing smoothly.
No one wants to be bogged down with emails, sending documents back and forth for projects.
Many great sharing tools, such as Google Drive or keeping things uploaded to your communication tool like Slack, are available. Find what works for your business, and be sure to consider what needs to be confidential and how secure you need your materials to be. Some tools are more able to protect your data and allow everyone to access it safely from anywhere.
Keeping up with everyone and ensuring they can reach out and converse is crucial when creating positive hybrid workspaces. Schedule weekly or even daily calls with all staff or certain team members to help people keep up to date with anything missed in the office or to check in on tasks. These can easily replace the day-to-day office interactions and become more efficient when you know exactly what needs to be covered.
Some people may feel left out when they miss those in-person interactions. Creating meetings for everyone in and out of the office can create a more inclusive space. And this allows people to communicate more readily with each other, so no one is lost or confused on tasks.
When scheduling staff meetings or other smaller syncs, include a Zoom link or video invite. Adding it as a habit will help prevent anyone from feeling left out and avoid any feelings of extra work. If you do it instinctively, you won’t risk missing anyone who might be remote that day or feel burdened by the simple step.
Communication is always one of the most important aspects of working on a team. But when working on a hybrid team, it becomes even more crucial. When you plan to add more structure and strategies for managing hybrid teams, be sure and start with communication. How will people get in touch with each other? Is everyone working the same hours? How do you accommodate different time zones if you need to?
When answering these questions, think about how staff in the office and out will reach one another and what can make that as easy and fluid as possible. Thankfully, with today’s technology, you can use many communication tools to help everyone stay in touch and up to date. It’s a good idea to find one that works best and have everyone use that. If you communicate through Slack, ensure everyone is on there and using it. Centering communication around a single app or tool will help people keep in touch wherever they are and make it feel less like there is a separate group for the office.
Engaged In Any Location
Increasing employee engagement with each other and leadership will help foster stronger connections and improve communication. This is important at any stage of the hybrid work, especially when hiring new staff. Providing opportunities to get to know one another and encouraging conversation among all staff, regardless of where they’re located, will improve relationships and form bonds. This allows people to work together more efficiently and can prevent remote staff from feeling left out.
If you are creating social events or opportunities, always make them available for staff in all locations. And if you have times when everyone needs to come into the office, make it fun and engaging so staff can have positive experiences in person.
Allow For Adjustments
Adapting to a hybrid space can take time, and it won’t be perfect immediately. You may design policies that work in theory but not as well in practice. Make sure you reach out to remote staff periodically to check in and see if there are ways you could adjust the workspace to be more inclusive and open to everyone. Take feedback seriously and stay on the lookout for new tools or strategies that might help people feel more connected and comfortable.
Team dynamics play a significant role in productivity and company culture. And positive culture has an impact on your company’s bottom line. So make sure you are working to provide a positive space for everyone, even if it’s virtual.
Build a Strong Hybrid Team Hybrid workspaces can offer companies a lot of benefits. They can hire from a wider talent pool, allow employees to find work situations they like best, and overall improve employee morale and productivity. But this won’t be the case when you first switch or hire new remote employees.
There are crucial steps to take so everyone feels involved and a part of the team. Keep communication at the forefront, schedule consistent check-ins to see how people are doing, and ensure the tools you’re using work effectively. Even shared calendars can make a big difference in helping staff feel more connected.
People like flexibility, and a hybrid space can provide the perfect option for everyone but don’t rush getting there. Set up the right policies and tools so people can keep in contact and not lose out on important conversations. Be open to change and work to be an adaptable leader your team can count on, even from afar. And if you want to know more about what employees may need, check out this webinar with Chris Dyer, a recognized expert on company culture and remote work.
CHRIS DYER Chris Dyer is a recognized company culture and remote work expert. As a former CEO managing thousands of people, his companies consistently were named a best place to work. They have also been named a fastest growing company by Inc Magazine 5 times. Chris routinely consults and speaks, and Inc Magazine ranked him as the #1 Leadership Speaker on Culture. He has two bestselling books The Power of Company Culture and Remote Work, and has been named #5 on the Leadershum Power List, a Top 40 Change Management Guru, a Top 50 Global Thought Leader, and a Top 50 leadership podcast just this year. As a leadership speaker his goal is to inspire audiences with a straightforward delivery, insightful candor, and engaging humor. His talks leave audiences permanently transformed, offering innovative perspectives on leadership to improve company culture, and empower organizations to discover new successes. Countless companies have unlocked productivity, performance, and profits by implementing his 7 Pillar Strategy.