As a leader of hybrid teams, we have a feeling you’d be interested in knowing the five most prevalent challenges that have been identified in our recent research of hybrid teams.
The five most pressing challenges, when addressed through meaningful action, training, and guidance, can be overcome. If you’re in the pursuit of high performance and a strong workplace culture we’d recommend taking note of the five key areas of focus shared in this article.
Let’s get straight to it, shall we?
Key areas of focus for leaders of hybrid teams
Communication between team members
According to our State of Remote Work Report 2.0, over 68% of people surveyed are finding communication between team members to be one of the most challenging aspects of hybrid work. As a leader, this is an important finding to explore because communication is the bedrock of all successful workplace relationships, and it can heavily impact the quality of outcomes in your hybrid team.
While there may be plenty of communication tools at the disposal of your team, it’s important that they each have a clear purpose and function within each of the teams you lead and the wider organisation. In our Virtual Leaders program, we make use of the SOCS framework as a way to help leaders and their teams categorise and discuss how each tool plays a role in hybrid team communication. Read our blog on the SOCS framework to get an idea of how this approach could be used in your workplace.
Collaboration between teams
In hybrid teams, it can be more challenging to facilitate meaningful team-based collaboration sessions, but it isn’t impossible. In fact, collaboration between different teams or departments can be more accessible when all hybrid team members are confident in the usage of digital collaboration tools.
Hybrid team members can use digital tools like Miro and Mural during video team meetings to recreate the traditional whiteboard brainstorming experience online. This approach also levels the playing field for all team members, enabling those working on-site and from home to share their ideas and concepts all at the same time.
Digital project management tools are pretty standard in hybrid teams, but regular usage of them throughout all stages of project management including feedback, progress updates, and reflection post-completion can make them much more effective. They present an opportunity for regular collaboration between different departments and individual team members and when used well can be a great tool in driving collaborative discussions. Consider how your project management tools could be better utilised to support collaboration – there may be features or templates that could provide value for your people.
Conflict isn’t an issue that’s exclusive to hybrid teams, but it can certainly run more rampant and have less chance of being resolved in a hybrid environment. Small misunderstandings and challenging moments that arise can snowball into feuds and rivalries if hybrid team members aren’t equipped with practical approaches to handle tough conversations with their colleagues.
In a hybrid workplace, individuals who don’t get along can simply avoid being in the office on the same days or may even go as far as to avoid group discussions and collaboration sessions in order to minimise contact with the person they’re struggling to work with. Gossip can also arise out of this situation and it can end up in quite a messy situation that leaders may struggle to deconstruct and resolve if left for too long.
If the skill of managing conflict and delivering challenging feedback is something that you’ve left out of your Learning and Development plans, or have recently found the need to prioritise, we’d highly recommend taking some time to check out our program, Dealing with the Tough Stuff.
Learning new tech
As you continue to build out your toolkit of software products and applications for use across your hybrid team, you’ll need to ensure that your workplace training is keeping up. When new team members come on board it’s very useful to have documentation around the different tools and software in your workplace so that new recruits can jump in immediately. We’ve found that creating short video tutorials with Loom can be useful for hybrid and remote working team member onboarding.
That isn’t to say that your existing team don’t need some love too. As the concern of learning new tech was listed in our survey conducted in March 2021, a year on from the onset of hybrid/remote work for many Australian employers, we’d say there’s a fair chance that there are some learning gaps that need to be addressed. Hosting short, informal training sessions for interested staff via video conferencing platforms can provide the necessary upskilling and understanding for your entire hybrid team to perform at a high level. Many software companies also have their own tutorial videos listed on YouTube or even their website which you can direct staff to for asynchronous learning.
Motivation levels can drop in a hybrid team environment, particularly when team members spend a lot of time working remotely. While this is an area that leaders should pay attention to through conversations with their people one on one, it is important that individuals are empowered to manage their own motivation levels when working in a largely self-led hybrid work environment.
Progress is one of our most powerful motivators as human beings, and in a hybrid workplace being able to chart progress on an individual and team scale is very motivating. For individuals, one of the best ways to create a sense of progress to bolster motivation is to simply write a to-do list. This could be a physical notepad to-do list each day or it could be a digital to-do list in a tool like Asana, Notion, or Monday. On a team level, creating weekly or fortnightly goals for projects and checking in on them during a regularly scheduled video meeting can help to increase motivation and reinforce positive action.
After reviewing these five key areas of focus for leaders of hybrid teams we hope you’ve been able to identify something (or a few things) that would be worth prioritising in your organisation right now. If you’re looking for more practical insights for leaders of hybrid teams, pick up a copy of our recently published book, Work From Anywhere. It’s an essential guide to creating a world-class hybrid team, and it’s brimming with strategies and techniques you can use to improve workplace performance and strengthen team culture.