COVID has changed the culture of the workplace irrevocably. Even as offices open up, the benefits of hybrid teams and working patterns have been made apparent to both employer and employee. No wonder employers are struggling to get their team to return to the office.
Hybrid teams are teams that utilise a mixture of in-office and online work. They’ve existed for years, long before COVID, and have been a constant presence at the senior level of corporations when teams are dispersed across the global.
Whilst we encourage organisations to embrace both the employee experience and practical advantages of hybrid teams, there is one obstacle that can result from hybrid-working – maintaining engagement and connectivity.
Here are 5 tips, tricks and pitfalls to watch out for to ensure that you can get the most out of the new working norm.
Routines and touchpoints are key.
Having structure within your week is key to ensure there is consistent connection week-in, week-out. Whether these take the form of weekly team meetings where people share and celebrate their recent project progressions, or whether they are strictly informal meetings where people connect on a more personal level, these can be great opportunities to ensure connection on a regular basis.
Without these established communication points and routines, it can become very hard for individuals to connect, both on a personal and a transactional level. Make sure your team is clear on the daily work patterns of their colleagues and when they can reach them.
Resist transactional relationships.
“I need you to do x, y and z, great got to go bye”.
How many of these conversations have you had over the last 2 years?
Whilst with sometimes getting straight down to business may be their preferred method of communication, many people don’t like to engage in this way. More often than not, employees want a balance of “work talk” and personal connection. This way they feel more valued, engaged and motivated.
Make sure face-to-face is available when needed.
Even if people are pushing for almost entirely remote working patterns, face-to-face meetups should be insisted upon if there are extended periods of time without contact. This is not just to drive engagement, but also concerned with ensuring employee wellbeing, as it can be hard to gage how an individual is doing when they are pixels on a screen.
Create informal communication channels.
This is a key emerging lesson that we have seen very few companies adopt. Most companies limit themselves to very few communication methods, such as Zoom, email and sometimes a privately hosted server or drive.
The problem with these communication styles is that it is incredibly difficult to differentiate between the quality and type of message you are receiving. However, you can use different communication channels to differentiate between different types of communication. For example, something that needs a quick yes or no can be sent as a priority rather than sitting behind 10 emails that require detailed responses.
Make sure everyone has the tools for the job.
We’ve been delivering live online learning since before COVID and are well-versed in the advantages – as well as the difficulties – technology can bring.
It’s no secret that to ensure online and hybrid teams can succeed, team members need access the right technology and software to get the job done. Even more important than that is the knowledge of how to use them – what may be intuitive to some can serve as a serious obstacle to others and can leave them feeling confused and reluctant to reach out.
This goes just beyond communication, having the right hardware like multiple screens can boost productivity by up to 42%. Kit your team out with the right tools and the knowledge of how to use them.
These 4 trends are the key obstacles that we expect teams to face in 2022. Over the coming weeks, we’re going to explore these themes further and suggest some tips and tricks for you to put into practice, so watch this space!
By Jenni Miller and Rowan Page