While hybrid working is becoming more prevalent and looks set to be the new normal in terms of work practices in a post-pandemic working world, this type of working changes the way that teams communicate daily and, therefore, the way in which they are managed.
Team leaders are getting updated training on how to manage hybrid work teams, which is a hugely important aspect of the transition.
While data is still emerging on best practices to manage hybrid teams, there are specific steps that managers can take in helping their teams to adjust to this way of working and encourage a transition that improves both employee engagement and productivity.
The steps that managers can take to support this transition and learn to be an excellent virtual leader, as well as an in-person leader, are becoming more evident, and the consequences of good and bad leadership in hybrid work are too.
1. Adapt Goals
Nevertheless, the ability of managers to adapt during this time is critical, and to experiment and be innovative with what works well for them and their teams within the context in which they work.
Adapting goals from being the number of hours worked to milestones reached and deadlines met is a more productive way to measure progress by workers’ output rather than their input.
2. Good Communication
Because team members have limited face time with one another, there are all sorts of non-verbal cues and communication that are missed out on, as well as more informal chat that can lead to team members feeling connected and valued.
Team members, specifically leaders, don’t have as many opportunities to give feedback as before and making a point of providing positive reinforcement, making themselves available, and communicating expectations in a transparent manner becomes a priority for teams to function optimally in a hybrid setup.
Ensure that the team is clear on the communication platforms being used.
Consolidate platforms if there have been multiple used in the past, and be clear and which are to be used when and for what so that employees feel comfortable communicating and that they are using the appropriate channels.
3. Encourage Group Cohesion
Encourage shared goal setting, team exercises, and engagement between team members.
For many people, working remotely can lead to feelings of alienation, disconnection, and being alone. Fostering connection, engagement, and communication between employees is vital.
4. Remain Connected And Available
Frequently check in with employees to ensure they’re getting what they need. During this time, particularly if it is a video call, be present. Y
es, you have a screen in front of you during the call, and therefore a million distractions, but remain focused so that employees feel like you are paying attention to their needs.
5. Build Trust
Micromanaging is most people’s worst work nightmare, and nobody likes feeling they can’t self-govern and need to be checked in on permanently.
Hiring managers should hire independent, motivated, and proactive employees that don’t require micromanagement, and managers should give their employees the space to prove themselves.
6. Clarity On Processes
Ensure there are processes to manage certain situations so that everybody in the team is clear on how to react and whom to communicate certain situations.
Without having colleagues around you, it could be easy to leave people out of the loop when new information, changes, or updates need to be communicated.
What Does Productivity Mean In The Hybrid Workplace?
Productivity has typically been measured by self-reported worker data and by worker activity data. While these metrics remained high during the pandemic, to the surprise of many corporations, both workers and companies have come to realize that productivity needs to be redefined.
As work pushed into homes, boundaries blurred, and most people worked longer hours when working from home. Employees began to feel overworked and exhausted, and this got people thinking more in detail about what it means to be productive.
A sense of well-being and feeling socially connected is essential to factor into productivity.
Allowing workers in a hybrid working model to work when, where and how they feel most productive means also allowing them to find a balance between family or home life and work life.
The factors that drive long-term, sustainable innovation need to be considered, and consequently, the way that we think about productivity needs to change to incorporate social connections and collaboration and the innovation that they bring to the success of businesses.
As a leader, giving employees the space they need to be productive on their own terms, as long as it doesn’t disrupt the team dynamic and they still meet deadlines, is key to maintaining high productivity levels.
Employee Trust And Engagement
Learning to trust employees and not micromanage them is part of helping them to remain productive and feel engaged.
Employees are reevaluating their relationship with work, and combined with the new generation of workers coming into the workforce who expect more flexibility and understanding of personal needs from corporations, placing trust in employees is one of the most important things you can do as a leader of a hybrid team.
Employee engagement is another crucial factor that leaders need to foster in their teams. Many managers underestimate the disconnect that many employees are feeling, both to their teams and to the company as a whole.
They are failing to see that there is no finish line or day when everything will return to the way it was, and employees simply need to ‘hold on until then, but that the manner in which we work and engage is changing to a hybrid model and that new activities, exercises and processes will need to be put in place to increase employee engagement.
Employers don’t know what a hybrid working model will look like for their companies and how it will affect leadership and engagement.
However, while this is unclear, there are specific measures that managers can take to improve engagement and productivity amongst their team.
Finding a new leadership style and practices during this time will depend very much on company culture and what works best for each company, and embracing a test-and-learn culture is key.