Hybrid work has become the most revolutionary change in the ways we work over the last few years. It is a great opportunity for employees to work more flexibly and create a work-style that suits their life-style. For managers and team leaders, it poses new challenges that require a new approach. This guide to hybrid work management will help you overcome challenges before they surface and create a hybrid work environment in which employees can thrive.
Defining hybrid work
The most important aspect of a hybrid team is trust and that requires good communication and a non-ambiguous hybrid work framework. If you can, you should include your team in the discussions that lead to the defined framework. That way, you will find out about their individual needs and preferences to embed them in the framework. Once it has been defined, it should be fixed in writing, there should be hybrid work HR policies, and all hybrid work guidance should be accessible for all employees at all times.
There is no right or wrong as hybrid work offers a wide spectrum of ways to work. The framework should include aspects like: working hours and schedules, meeting etiquette, ratio of days in the office vs. remote days, hot desk booking systems, expectations and accountability, how performance is measured and anything else that matters in your specific case or that could cause doubt and conflict in the day-to-day-work.
A leader is nothing without his or her team, that applies in hybrid work management as in any other context. If you created the hybrid work framework together with your team, they are likely to accept it with all opportunities and limitations. Now, it is up to the leader to maintain this as the team grows and changes. This means that new hires need to be a good cultural fit for hybrid work. Somebody who requires micromanagement is unlikely to be a good fit. You want self-motivators and people who take ownership and communicate well within the team.
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This brings us to the next point: Communication is key in hybrid work management. This starts with communication tools but also depends a lot on individuals and their attitude. It is the leader’s responsibility to communicate clearly and cascade information in a way that makes it accessible for everyone. Problems arise when important conversations happen at the coffee machine in the office that are not passed on to the rest of the team. Communication refers to information being passed on, and it also includes engagement in the team and problem solving. Does everybody in the team have the same opportunity to ask questions? Do they get an answer within a reasonable period of time?
When it comes to meetings, the same rules apply as in any work environment. Meetings should have a clear purpose and agenda. In a hybrid work environment, you also should think about the “how”. If the whole team spends one day per week together in the office, it seems easy to schedule a team meeting for that day and hold it in person. If the team is completely distributed without strictly defined office days, it gets a bit more complicated.
Your framework should include a meeting etiquette and clear rules such as the use of cameras, headsets and screensharing. If some team members are in the office and others work remotely, it is tempting to book a meeting room and bring those in the office together. This should be avoided though as it creates a non-inclusive environment. If some people are in the same room together, they communicate in non-verbal ways that exclude the team members behind a screen.
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Fairness and inclusion
An inclusive environment does not end with a meeting etiquette; it affects all aspects from working hours to employee benefits. Any rule in your hybrid work framework should be fair for everybody. If anything leads to exclusion, alternatives should be available. For example, if you take your team members for a coffee during your 1-to-1-meetings, you can offer those that join your meeting remotely a coffee delivery at home or the option to expense a coffee. The team leader also should keep the times spent with each team member equal, i.e. do not spend one hour with one team member in a café but only 30 minutes with another team member on a video call.
Words are also really powerful and with anything you say or do, you should not encourage distinctions between “us and them”. This will also lead to exclusion and toxic environments.
Take location into account
Depending on where your team members are, you should give them all the same opportunity and access to a workspace. Some might make use of your office, whereas others are geographically too far away. You might be able to offer them a membership for a local coworking space or another type of flexible workspace arrangement amongst the pool of hybrid work solutions.
Inclusion should equally be the key principle for any team socials and events. You want to create occasions where the whole team can meet in person, but they should be available to everybody. If some team members come from further away, the planning for the event should include how they get to the event venue and back home afterwards.
If you embed the above in your hybrid work management style, you will see that many challenges don’t even pose themselves. ou will create a team culture that lives and breathes the new way to work. Our team of hybrid work experts is at hand if you need help and can assist in finding the right hybrid workspace solutions.