How to Manage Hybrid Teams in 2023
I get asked this question lately "How hard should I push employees to return to the office?" "Is this work-from-home thing going to last? Do I need to get used to it?" It is no longer a question; the recent data suggests that many companies will have at least some parts of their workforce that work remotely, creating a Hybrid Team. Many companies need to learn how to manage hybrid teams as they have yet to set up their company to do so; they needed to adjust due to the pandemic, and did so.
I ask more questions to get to the root cause of the problem - like why do you want employees to return to the office? Asking a few more "why" questions, I often arrive at the core of the challenge: I think if employees come back, they will be more engaged and accountable for what they need to deliver.
Here is what I think. If your core issue is getting employees to engage and be accountable to deliver work, then discussing whether they should be in the office or be allowed to work from home is being distracted by the symptom. The real question you should ask is, "How do we get employees to fall in love with my company and be sincerely interested in what they deliver to my customers?
What is a hybrid team?
A hybrid team is one where you have both local and remote workers working together. This type of team is becoming increasingly popular because it allows companies to achieve better productivity while still having access to talent worldwide. In fact, according to Forbes, there are now over 2 million people employed remotely across the globe.
But what about those people who aren't able to travel? What about those who live too far away from the office to make commuting worthwhile? What about those who want to spend more time with their families? Or maybe they're simply looking for a lifestyle change. Whatever the case, being part of a hybrid team means you'll experience various work-life balance options.
The biggest challenge with managing a remote team is dealing with people with different work experiences daily. Some days, we'll spend hours together in person. On other days, you'll find us spread out across the globe.
3 Steps to Increase Employee Engagement
Communicate Clearly and Often.
Let's start with how you engage with your employees. If you do not show that you love and care about them as people first, don't expect them to fall in love with you. Hybrid teams are made up of employees who work at different locations and times. They're often used when there's a need for flexibility, speed, or cost savings.
But managing hybrid teams requires communication skills that many managers lack. Employees may be located across the country, working long hours, or traveling frequently. And because they're not physically together, they may feel isolated and disconnected.
To help keep everyone connected, managers must communicate clearly and often. This means being available to answer questions, providing regular updates, and ensuring that the team members understand the goals and priorities of the organization.
Managers should also encourage open lines of communication between team members. This includes encouraging informal conversations, sending emails, and holding meetings.
Finally, managers should create a culture where employees feel comfortable sharing ideas and concerns. This helps them stay engaged and motivated throughout their career.
Make Work Purpose Driven
Demonstrate through your actions why your customers are important to you, even more, important than making money. Take care of your customers first, and focus on giving them the value they signed up for. If they have questions about the value they received, feel free to engage directly and help them see the value you provided or make it suitable for them. Think of the lifelong value of the customer, not the profitability of any single transaction. This is why we call them customers, not a series of financial transactions.
Your employees are watching you and model how you treat customers and the people around you. Do you treat your customers like lifelong customers, or do you treat them like transactions? My goal is to inspire employees to become engaged at work because when employees feel valued and appreciated, they're happier and more productive. And happy employees lead to great results for everyone involved.
Create and Set Expectations Clearly
I don't know anyone saying, "I can't wait to go to work today and screw up or make my manager mad at me. I love being a low performer!"
Nope - I don't know anyone who says that. Usually, they need help understanding what they need to achieve. They need to see the goal and how to surpass it. Managers must also establish clear expectations for each member of the team. This includes defining individual goals, providing feedback, and setting performance standards.
It is easy to be distracted by symptoms and miss the big picture. If the big picture is getting employees engaged and reducing attrition, figure out how. Believe me; if you lose employees, you will continue to lose them even if they return to the office.
There are good points for both coming back or staying home. Much depends on your work culture. Figure out what work environment and culture work best for your company. Then answer the question if you should accelerate employees back to the office or embrace the cost savings that come with working from home or the hybrid model (Some days at home and some days at the office).
Learn more about navigating the challenges of a hybrid workforce in these popular articles:
- 4 Essentials for Successful Hybrid Work
- Hybrid Work Strategy: Work Smarter with Hybrid Work Software
- Meeting Best Practices for Hybrid Teams
- Company Culture Checklist for Remote & Hybrid Teams