Managing hybrid teams is a must-have skill for the future
The world of work has been forever changed by the global pandemic and the resulting emergence of hybrid teams. Where once whole teams would be co-located in a single office, holding meetings face-to-face and interacting in person, now the workforce can be spread far and wide. Employees no longer need to clock in at an office at 9am to be counted as present and productive.
With no clarity in sight about the need or desirability of going back to offices full-time any time soon, companies are coming up with their own solutions for keeping things running. More and more, the term ‘hybrid’ is being used to describe a mix of home, office, and site-based working.
Remote teams bring opportunities and challenges
There are real opportunities for those organziations which can crack the code of hybrid team management. Lower office overheads, a flexible workforce, and a better work-life balance can all be attractive to both managers and staff.
Running a hybrid team throws up a series of specific management challenges, however. There needs to be a move away from presenteeism towards outcomes-based management, with targets and milestones acting as the yardstick for performance. The question of whose needs drive the hybrid policies, employees or managers, needs to be resolved, and the whole of an organization still needs access to accurate information no matter where in the world the employees are.
How to effectively manage hybrid teams is therefore one of the hottest management topics of 2022:
1. Ensure information is centralized, standardized, and shared
An organization runs on information, but with employees spread across different geographical sites and perhaps across several time zones, it can be a challenge to ensure that all staff have access to the information they need to do their job.
It’s vital, therefore, that data is centralized into one single platform which can be accessed by all. This helps ensure that decisions are taken based on accurate and up-to-date information. The standardization of processes across an organziation can also help in this regard, as employees can rely on pre-existing structures and processes to carry out their roles as opposed to waiting for real-time direction from management.
- 2. Introduce tight team management processes
Team management processes are incredibly important in a hybrid work environment, whether that be a work team in a department, or a project team within a program of work. In-person meetings will not always be possible and therefore tasks like work allocation, that may traditionally have been done face-to-face, need a different solution. Being clear about the way that the team operates can help employees perform when based away from the office.
It’s also important that managers set clear objectives for staff, with tangible and measurable outputs. All team members need to be aware of the objectives both for the team and themselves individually, with project management software acting as a useful tool to assign tasks to individuals and to track completion. The use of PM software can give managers an overview of progress for their team or project, and allows employees to feel accountability for their part in the hybrid team’s achievements.
3. Focus on excellent communication
With a disparate workforce coming together irregularly or perhaps not at all, a strong focus on communication is needed to keep everyone in touch. Good communication is an incredibly vital part of team management, and an excellent communication plan is a must-have for any project.
Software can again help in this regard. Using an online communications tool such as Asana can give managers the ability to set up whole programs of work, with discrete tasks assigned to individuals, and to keep track of when those tasks are completed. Online tools like these can be very handy to keep the project team going and can operate separately to an overall project plan or schedule, which is a much more technical route to allocate resources.
- 4. Utilize the advantages that remote working offers
Now that staff can be based anywhere in the world, the traditional barriers to finding employees do not apply. You now don’t need to cross your fingers and hope that a qualified candidate lives locally; instead, staff aren’t geographically restricted and you can recruit from anywhere in the world. Access to talent has never been higher.
The cloud is also the friend of hybrid work teams. The construction industry is moving to the cloud for good reason, with 24/7 connection to information from anywhere in the world and a secure hosting environment keeping data secure. Adopting cloud-based working for your hybrid team encourages collaboration as team members can access the information they need from their own and related teams whenever they need it.
Hybrid teams thrive on information, communication, and collaboration
The rise of hybrid teams is introducing challenges for managers, but is also presenting real benefits and opportunities. Sharing standardized information and processes, focussing on communication, and capitalizing on the advantages that hybrid working brings, can all help managers lead their teams effectively.
Our expert staff have years of experience helping managers run project teams with a remote element, making us uniquely placed to help businesses move forwards with this new hybrid style of working. For a conversation about how you can help your hybrid team achieve their best, get in touch today.