Hybrid work teams, just like in-office teams, need opportunities for connection and professional development in a team-based environment. It is part cultural, part social. In the hurry, haste and ambition to move away from co-location as a team, it’s easy to forget the amazing connection that occurs when groups come together, and that’s something we’re going to dig into today.
The transition to a Work From Anywhere or hybrid team structure might result in dramatic cuts in time wastage, but it also reduces the possibility of serendipity, especially around cultural and relational conversations. This ‘water cooler’ conversation and unplanned connection has often been the backbone of traditional office-based teams, so if you’re adopting WFA you’re going to need to make time for intentional connection. Let’s explore the principles of impactful hybrid team gatherings.
How to host impactful team gatherings in a hybrid work scenario
Step 1: Gather with real purpose
Using gatherings to move past transactional work and form deeper personal relationships and personal growth is going to be the playground of world-class teams into the future. This means gathering with real purpose, each and every time.
Whether these gatherings are yearly or monthly, the rhythm is largely going to be determined by budget and geography. Regardless of how often you decide to gather as a group, it’s important that you have a clear theme or objective, whether it’s social connection first, reconnection to organisational values or ideating and creating new solutions as a team.
Step 2: Forget transactional
Don’t fall into the trap of gathering your people to do work they could have easily done through a virtual or remote platform. What a waste of time! Create some clear principles that the time you spend together face to face is critical to connection, culture and trust-building rather than business as usual tasks.
When we mentioned ideating and creating, we meant true ideation and creation. Coming up with exciting new concepts as a team can be invigorating. Using design thinking to come up with solutions to new challenges as a team can bring people closer together. You also may simply want to gather as a team to reconnect and engage in social conversation; that is truly a valuable use of your time, especially if your team is spread across the globe.
When we work with organisations to craft inspirational and impactful team offsite experiences we focus on a blend of social and cultural activities to create a well-rounded schedule that engages all members of a team.
Step 3: Focus on culture and connection
You can fast-track cultural understanding when you have the speed of face to face to harness. Sure, communicating via Zoom calls and other mediums can be speedy, but for rapid-fire feedback and group discussion, few could argue that there isn’t something a little magical about the cultural connections that can take place when humans are in one another’s physical company.
Use your time in hybrid team gatherings to double-down on the narratives and values that drive your culture and create the emotional heartbeat people are drawn to. At PT we’ve got our own values that we often reference during our team gatherings and offsite experiences, and we’ve also got our Work From Anywhere philosophy and framework that we refer back to regularly to make sure we’re on the right path.
All in all you want to make it a positive, connected experience for everyone in your team. Ensure that activities allow all types of people to interact and add to the conversation. When coordinating social gatherings make sure that your experiences are suitable for all team members and that you’ve got the right atmosphere to allow people to interact on a 1:1 and group basis.
Looking towards the future it’s time to begin carving out some plans for future hybrid team gatherings. Like some organisations you may wish to have formal, large team offsite events quarterly or perhaps you need a more frequent rhythm like us at PT with our bi-monthly catch-ups. Whichever rhythm you choose, the most important thing is to create impactful experiences grounded in purpose, culture, and connection. And if you’re looking for 10 not lame virtual team building activities, we’ve got you covered.
For more guidance and hands-on strategies for creating a high performing hybrid team take a look at our training program of the same name. We’ve worked tirelessly to create a well-structured, science-based program for hybrid teams looking to achieve new levels of high performance.