Hybrid working has become the norm in many companies across the globe. In the US alone, 74% of companies currently use or plan to implement a permanent hybrid work model. This unique work model is a blend of remote and in-office working. While it offers numerous benefits, it also comes with challenges. Credico, the Chicago-based broker of outsourced sales and marketing, understands that to make hybrid working models work, they must create an effective alternative to in-person communication to bring together team members working in different locations.
Understanding the Hybrid Work Environment
For employees, hybrid working means they can choose where and when they work. This flexible approach to the working day can improve work-life balance and increase job satisfaction. This, in turn, can increase productivity.
Employers can also reap the benefits of employing a hybrid workforce. Companies can access talent globally without geographical constraints rather than being restricted to a specific area. This opens up a whole new pool of potential employees with diverse skills.
However, hybrid teams also face unique challenges. How do they implement effective communication and collaboration among team members who are physically dispersed? And how can they avoid a disconnect developing between remote and in-person employees?
There’s no doubt that disconnection can create a divide in team dynamics. To counteract this, organizations must establish clear guidelines and policies promoting inclusivity and equal opportunities for remote and in-person employees.
It’s important to remember that it isn’t about replicating an office environment but finding ‘new ways’ of working. Thankfully, Credico and many companies worldwide are navigating this hybrid journey and finding ways to keep hybrid teams happy and productive. What else can be implemented to help hybrid teams work well collectively?
Credico looks after its hybrid teams, so they have invested in digital tools to help keep the team connected. To make it easier to collaborate, businesses such as Credico can implement communication tools like Microsoft Teams.
Microsoft Teams: Microsoft Teams is a comprehensive collaboration platform that offers a wide range of features such as chat, video conferencing, file sharing, and project management tools. It’s straightforward to use and integrates easily with other Microsoft applications.
Other communication tools utilized for hybrid working include:
Slack: Slack is a popular team communication tool that allows 1-1 messaging and group calls. Users can also share files and integrate them with various apps and tools. It’s an excellent tool for facilitating communication and reducing reliance on email.
Zoom: Zoom is a popular video conferencing platform offering high-quality video and audio communication. Zoom can be used for large-scale meetings, webinars, and screen sharing, making it suitable for small teams and larger organizations. Zoom’s features include breakout rooms, recording capabilities, and collaboration tools like virtual whiteboards.
Google Meet: Google Meet’s features make it an excellent Zoom alternative for video conferencing. It runs in your browser rather than an app and provides a simple and user-friendly interface, making it an accessible choice. Meet allows users to share screens and integrate with Google tools such as Google Calendar, Google Drive, and Google Chat, which can incorporate Slack-like functionality into the ecosystem.
These platforms have enabled businesses to operate efficiently with hybrid teams by helping foster unity and keep everyone on the same page, overcoming the challenges of distance and time zones.
Setting Clear Expectations and Goals
To lay the groundwork for successful hybrid working, it is crucial to:
- Establish clear roles
- Set tangible goals and milestones
- Regularly check in with employees – even on a weekly or daily basis
- Create a comprehensive communication plan
With team members working both remotely and in-office, it is essential to establish a shared understanding of what needs to be accomplished.
Managers must adopt a more outcome-focused and impactful approach to create and maintain successful hybrid environments. At the same time, they must empower employees to figure out their own path toward achieving these outcomes and take full ownership of their work.
What are the advantages of focusing on outcomes and establishing clear expectations? It helps all those working in a hybrid environment avoid confusion and misunderstandings. By setting goals, teams can have a clear roadmap of what they need to achieve and what is expected of them, creating a sense of direction and purpose. This boosts productivity and enhances collaboration and teamwork, as everyone knows what they are working towards.
How can managers create a clear roadmap to follow? Developing a comprehensive communication plan to establish these guidelines is key. This plan should outline how and when team members are expected to communicate through email, phone messaging, video calls, and project management tools. It should also address the frequency of check-ins and team meetings to keep everyone updated.
It’s also essential to define the boundaries for remote work, such as availability during specific hours and response time for emails or messages.
Building Trust and Relationships
Credico has established a happy and connected workforce and understands that building trust in a hybrid work environment can be another significant challenge for employees and employers.
Team building activities and fostering personal connections are not just feel-good initiatives; they are essential for the success of any organization, especially in a hybrid work environment. These activities help break down barriers and build trust between colleagues.
By engaging in team-building activities, employees get to know each other personally, which can lead to increased understanding and empathy. This can make all the difference for teamwork and collaborating on projects. What types of activities can be included?
Some ideas include:
- Virtual team happy hours
- Online games
- Birthday celebrations
- Seasonal activities
- Virtual coffee breaks
- Escape rooms
These activities go a long way in strengthening relationships and nurturing a positive work culture.
Managing hybrid working is a journey that requires ongoing effort, but with the right strategies in place, employers and employees can enjoy the benefits of flexibility without compromising productivity.