Effectively navigating hybrid teams is a balancing act. Is your team at crisis point? Read on to discover the solution to happy hybrid teams…
When instructions to ‘work from home until further notice’ flooded our inboxes in March 2020, the concept of working remotely felt like setting sail to an unknown land, across unchartered waters, in a rickety boat.
Three years later, we’ve all grown accustomed to this new way of working. And with no morning commute, the ability to work in fluffy slippers and all that flexibility, many have vowed never to fully return to the office.
But what does the data say about the future of work?
It would be easy to assume that remote would be the future for most employees, but research suggests the hybrid working model reigns supreme.
In theory, hybrid encompasses the best of remote and traditional practices.
On the one hand, it addresses the desire for flexibility and on the other, guarantees visibility and personal contact.
However, where hybrid teams offer several benefits, such as increased flexibility and improved work-life balance, they also present unique challenges that can negatively impact productivity and team dynamics.
This begs the question of whether that ‘until further notice’ period ever ended, or if we’ve just adapted our working practices in an attempt to seek the best of both worlds?
The future is hybrid…
Hybrid working is certainly here to stay.
Yet, with 59% of employees forming part of a hybrid team and 65% of companies looking to maintain it permanently, striking the right balance in your hybrid team is crucial.
The future of organizations depends on finding a middle ground. Most hybrid teams face challenges, but a minority of companies seize the chance to address them with targeted actions.
The Global Hybrid Working 2023 Report
In order to assist in finding the balance, we asked ourselves the question: is the hybrid model really working?
We surveyed 1,750 team members and managers around the world to ask how employees feel the hybrid model is working? What challenges are they experiencing? And what do they feel organizations will need to focus on to make hybrid working a true success for everyone involved?
You can download the full Global Hybrid Working Report here or read on to learn why your hybrid team may be struggling, and what you can do to mitigate these challenges to ensure a happy sailing.
The report found that 2/3 hybrid teams use communication tools which conversely means: 1/3 do not.
Indeed, as many as 18% of managers find different working hours and locating the right tools to stay connected challenging.
Effective communication is the backbone of any successful team, and it becomes even more crucial in a hybrid work environment. Ineffective communication between team members with flexible work structures can cause misunderstandings, uncertainty, frustration and wasted time.
For example, Thomas, who works remotely, is feeling isolated. He believes he misses out on important information not being in the office. On the other hand, in-person Sophie feels disengaged as she believes the majority of important communication happens via digital channels.
Solution: establish clear, company-wide communication protocols and ensure that every team member is aware of the processes. Whether that’s announcing the policy in an all-hands call or asking employees to read and sign a document, it’s important that everyone’s on the same page.
Research shows that the biggest casualties of hybrid working are social connection and casual conversation.
Imagine a typical office routine: coffee runs, chats in the hallway and a joint lunch break. Although the primary function of the office is to work, the ability to wander over to someone’s desk to ask a question, be invited to after work drinks and to engage in general chit chat are crucial components of relationship-building.
These casual connections are missed in the home office. The report finds that those who always or mainly work from home ‘experience difficulty in establishing collegial relationships’.
‘Remote’ shouldn’t mean isolated. It’s important that hybrid systems are in place so employees know processes and protocol to ensure WFH and in-person members experience equality of opportunity and feedback. After all, you don’t want your team members who WFH to feel like they’re cast away on a deserted island.
With at least 37% of the companies interviewed encouraging occasional in-person meetings and team building events that allow employees to catch up and socialize, there are moves to incorporate these policies. But there is still a long way to go.
Uniting colleagues on a professional level is one thing, but connecting them on a personal level is another.
Solution: Organize face to face opportunities for your team to connect, collaborate and socialize.
A lack of trust can erode the cohesiveness of any team, and it can be especially challenging in a hybrid work environment.
It’s difficult to celebrate team success and build a basis of trust when your team is dispersed.
In this case, remote-working Thomas feels that he is not given the same opportunities as his in-person co-workers and that his contributions are not as valued. Similarly, office-based Sophie believes that those who work remotely don’t pull their weight and are not as invested in the team’s success.
This lack of trust is often a result of poorly defined communication processes and a lack of team-building opportunities.
In reality, all contributions and opportunities are celebrated via digital channels, so Thomas doesn’t miss out, and Sophie simply didn’t see how many extra hours the remote workers in her team worked on that project.
Solution: Foster a culture of trust, respect, and inclusion to ensure that everyone feels valued and part of the team.
Different working styles
Working styles and preferences have never been more essential than in the new world of work.
Preferences can vary significantly among team members, and these differences can become even more pronounced in a hybrid work environment. It is crucial to understand these differences and accommodate them.
For example, remote-working Thomas may prefer collaborative work, and so struggles with the disconnect he sometimes experiences. On the other hand, office-based Sophie prefers to work alone and get on with the task at hand.
Regular check ins and team-building activities can help promote team cohesion and understanding.
Furthermore, advocating self-awareness and introducing the language of color into your organization is a steadfast way to accommodate these preferences and bridge gaps in your hybrid teams. Find out more about how Insights Discovery can accommodate your hybrid team here.
Solution: Create a team charter that encompasses individual preferences, prioritizes team-building opportunities, and advances self and other awareness across your team.
A lack of established ground rules
Every third manager says their team has ground rules, yet only half of employees are aware of them.
This disconnect highlights a crucial challenge in hybrid teams: defining clear working practices.
It is critical to establish how your hybrid team should operate, and that all team members are on the same page with this process.
Whether that’s ensuring regular one-to-one meetings or team connects, scheduling in dedicated time for coaching and mentorship, or prioritizing open communication; ground rules are essential to the success of your hybrid team.
Solution: Ensure that meetings are inclusive and accessible for everyone. Determine what working elements are important on a team and companywide level and create a clear hybrid work protocol.
It’s time to future-proof
The Global Hybrid Working Report 2023 suggests that there are no hard or fast rules around what will suit every team.
Ultimately, the research demonstrates a common denominator when considering the success of hybrid teams: people.
When your people feel valued, understood and considered; your hybrid teams thrive.
With your workforce centre stage, organizations that wish to futureproof can’t ignore critical components of effective team building and crucial drivers of organizational growth: communication, engagement and collaboration.
Ready to put your people first, combat challenges and empower your hybrid teams?
Download the Global Hybrid Working report >