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Managing a newly hybrid team

With lockdown restrictions around the world gradually easing, many people are left wondering how their work life will change post-Covid. While there are still many questions left unanswered, it seems inevitable that many businesses will adopt a more flexible approach to working.

Variations in employee circumstances, preferences and requirements will influence whether staff are keen to return to the workplace or not. As a result, It is likely that, especially during the restricting phase, many organisations will consider the adoption of hybrid teams.
This creates a new challenge for Managers, as each day could be different with some employees staying at home and some returning to the workplace. Successful leadership of a hybrid team boils down to practising fairness with each member of staff, regardless of where they are working. This can be achieved by:

1. Be clear about expectations and accountability
Set expectations and be clear on accountability from the start, so that home and office-based staff can work together productively. This may require daily or weekly meetings to ensure key updates are shared with the entire team.

2. Establish clear working hours
This ensures everyone knows who is working when and where. Sharing work calendars will also enable team members to know what others are doing at any given time.

3. Discourage a ‘them and us’ attitude
When managing a hybrid team it can be easy for negative attitudes about the ‘other’ group to occur. To prevent this, encourage both office-based and remote workers to proactively develop working relationships.

4. Commit equal time and focus to each member of staff
The amount of support you give to each team member should not depend on where they are working. Remote staff should not receive less of your time.

5. Be conscious of communication
Those working remotely miss out on face-to-face interactions with colleagues. Because of this, you should choose video calls where possible for virtual meetings, to make everyone feel more included.

6. Consider how you will measure performance fairly
Regardless of the location of your employees, you should concentrate on the quality of work they produce, rather than amount of time spent in the office. It is also crucial that career progression paths are equal for office-based and remote employees.

7. Keep your remote employees informed about company and office decisions
Staff working remotely may not know all the decisions that on-site employees make, so set up regular time with them to share such information. This will help reduce a sense of feeling out of the loop.

8. Ensure rewards are fair for all employees
Offering rewards or office-based benefits remote workers are unable to participate in can be demotivating. Instead, offer rewards that both office and remote staff can benefit from.

9. Create occasions to bring your team together
Once it is safe to do so, arrange opportunities for your hybrid team to get to know each other face-to-face.

10. Hire wisely
When hiring for a role that will involve a lot of remote working, you must ensure you hire the right person. Desirable qualities include being a ‘self-start’, punctuality, responsiveness, and ideally previous experience of remote working.

As we look forward to a new era of work after Covid-19, our workplaces may become more flexible than before. This may cause the dynamics of teams to change day-to-day, requiring careful management. As a leader, it is important to start off on the right foot now, by planning how you might lead your newly hybrid team in the near future.