We've all lived and breathed hybrid working studies and reports, so now it's time to hear from leaders who have embraced hybrid, tested the waters, and provided us with practical advice for employers:
It’s all about collaboration and communication, enabled by great technology. With hybrid, teams will rarely be all together in the same place and maybe not even in the same time zone. Platforms such as Slack allow teams to share updates, work on documents, and start instant meetings. Be rigid on this and don’t leave anyone out by having side meetings with those in the office.
Firstly, ask employees what they want before implementing a hybrid working plan.
Scondly, don’t be too rigid in that plan.
Thirdly, trust your employees.
Some employers are dictating to employees a minimum number of days that they have to be in the office each week. That’s fine if other people and/or teams are in the office on the same day but if someone has a day of video calls there’s little point in them coming in just to sit on calls. The time taken to travel into the office is usually dead time (commuting time can be productive for some but not for all) not to mention stressful so make it worth it. Good leaders are listening to their staff and challenging their own views and preferences to work out how best to accommodate employees’ wishes. They are also seeing the value of hybrid working for them and their staff and are looking to get the right balance of home and office working for the right reasons – as well as trusting staff to do the same.
- The first is the needs of the individual. These will have changed over the course of the pandemic. It's important to understand what has changed and how hybrid working supports those changes.
- The second is the needs of the team. Having recruited an entire team through the various lockdowns, I am acutely aware of the need for team bonding, storming and forming phases. The chance for newer members of the team to learn from existing or more senior members of the team as well as understand the culture of the company they have joined.
- The third is the needs of the business. To understand what the business need from us, in a hybrid working pattern, to support goals and objectives.
Always ask 'Why should we come into the office?'
It is a fine balancing act to be able to blend these three groups into a workable hybrid working scenario. However, it is important to stress that a one size fits all does NOT work. What works well for a test team, for example, may not work for a team of architects or product owners. But there's no getting away from the connections we all need as humans to our colleagues and work friends as a primary driver for hybrid working.
1. Create a diverse team/board to build and launch into hybrid
2. Create a cadence and rigour in meeting with this team, every day is fluid
3. Gather intimate 1:1 feedback from as many employees as possible and ask what flexibility means
4. Recognise that you may need to invest in the right technology to make your team/s wildly successful
5. Think through the WHY and HOW to maximise being at the site/office… make hybrid work, work for the team and the business
I think the most crucial part is to actually engage and listen to your team. A sense of value in a workplace comes from hearing your voice and having your opinions considered, so... it’s a case of just asking... “team we’re thinking of implementing hybrid working… thoughts?” It’s as simple as that! By doing so, you're giving your team autonomy to determine how they want to work and creating a workplace that serves the business and your team.
A large percentage of communication is non-verbal, which means it's essential for leaders to not only communicate more precisely and intentionally, but also be mindful that the deck is stacked in favor of the in-office team. Minding the gap is super important.
It sounds paradoxical, but leaders who want to successfully lead a hybrid team need to recognise that there's no such thing as a hybrid team. There are remote teams that happen to have some teammates working in an office. This mindset is an absolute must because it ensures that you're serving the least common denominator on your team. It's much easier to ensure that in-office employees feel included than remote employees, so it take extra effort to make sure remote employees are included. If one person needs to call in to a meeting via Zoom, that meeting takes place on Zoom for everybody.
In order for hybrid to work you need to set communication guidelines. How quickly do you expect your team members to reply to you, when and what hours do you expect them to work, and what are you covering during your deeper weekly syncs?
In our research and discussion with clients and thinking about the future of work, we (and a lot of our clients) have already moved or are moving away from the terminology of hybrid working. This is because as a concept/reality it is not available to all parts of the workforce for those organisations that have operational/physical customer facing roles etc and the risks associated with that in terms of two tier systems, perceptions of unfairness etc. The other issue is that the term is limiting in terms of what it describes (geographical location/mode of engaging with work and others – virtually or face to face). This misses the opportunity to consider the broader ideas of genuine flexibility and inclusion in terms of how work is designed and carried out. So instead, we are viewing it as Smart Working (or a similar moniker) to describe the whole ecosystem of work.
Would you like more help with your hybrid strategy?
Our upcoming course Leading Hybrid Teams will teach you how to handle the most common challenges of hybrid working including:
- how to communicate with your team to maintain productivity, engagement, and inclusivity
- how to host successful hybrid meetings so no-one feels excluded
- how to manage conflict and favouritism
We’ll also provide you with:
+ practical tools
+ wealth of research
+ practical examples
+ other leaders’ insights
+ space to network
Book your place here: Leading Hybrid Teams