Managing a Hybrid Team: 4 Questions to Consider
9 Jul 20 by Sourced
With many businesses having been forced to embrace remote working in recent months, we will inevitably see a rise in the permanent adoption of hybrid teams going forward – teams composed of both co-located and remote employees or, more commonly, an arrangement enabling everyone to split their time between the office and home.
Many prominent tech companies are spearheading this trend, including Fujitsu, which recently announced that it was moving away from the conventional practice of working from a fixed office to allow around 80,000 of its Japan-based employees the freedom to choose where and when they work. However, this shift can result in a steep learning curve for many organisations as they figure out how to manage a hybrid team most effectively and tackle all the challenges that come along with it.
If your team is already a hybrid or soon will be, here are four questions you should keep in mind to get the best results from your employees, no matter where they are.
1. Is a Hybrid Team Structure Right for Your Business?
The hybrid structure has several advantages, including cost savings, improved employee engagement and greater adaptability, but it also has its challenges and is not going to be suitable for every business. Many IT teams are adept at collaborating across multiple locations but others, such as sales teams, rely on working in-person to get the best results.
When considering whether to adopt a hybrid structure, think about how people have performed in remote situations previously, how it could impact the team culture and whether you have (or can invest in) the technology to support effective collaboration. Do these tools even exist at present, or will you need to wait a period of time for technology to catch up with the new reality? What commitments do you currently have to office space that might be affected, and how will you compensate people for any expenses related to working from home?
It’s also important to determine the proportion of your team that can work remotely at any given time without disrupting operations, and whether there will need to be any restrictions or requirements around issues such as the minimum home-office setup or when it is and isn’t appropriate to work remotely.
This will help you identify if a hybrid team is right for the needs of your business and prepare for the potential impacts this arrangement could have.
2. How Will You Keep People Connected and Accountable When Working from Home?
It’s important to be aware that in a hybrid team, employees will often have vastly different experiences depending on where they’re working, so focusing on consistent communication and shared accountability is necessary to enable the team to collaborate and perform at a high level.
To keep everyone in the loop, it’s a good idea to define hours and ask people to share their calendars so the whole team knows who is working when and where, as well as run regular meetings where people report on priorities and share project progress. Create a good communication rhythm with frequent one-on-one check-ins and longer team meetings each week to ensure everyone feels included and avoid information silos. Video conferencing can be combined with in-person meetings to allow everyone in the team to be “present” despite the physical separation, ensuring you can share any news or updates with everyone at once.
Bear in mind that hybrid teams often have less opportunity for small talk and casual interactions, so consider how you’ll maintain strong relationships between co-workers – this could be through scheduled non-work video calls or create a dedicated channel on the team chat app.
3. How to Measure the Performance of Employees Post-COVID-19?
Evaluating performance can be a challenge when the team isn’t all in one place, especially when it comes to keeping the measures consistent across the workforce. That’s why one of the most important tips for managing hybrid teams is to shift your focus from hours at desks to quality, objectives and outcomes, using fact-based measures to ensure all members can be evaluated by the same standards. Aim to measure productivity by output rather than input, utilise self-evaluations and supplement with peer feedback to gain a full picture.
Of course, effective goal setting is a key part of measuring performance, allowing you to easily and objectively track progress. While individual performance targets are critical regardless of where employees are based, you should also be setting shared goals (and rewards) to keep everyone working together and moving in the same direction.
4. Will Remote Working Change the Way You Hire?
With a hybrid team, finding the right talent to keep the model sustainable is key, so you will need to focus on hiring for certain skills to ensure people are suited to potential remote work and can interact effectively with other employees working remotely.
When hiring for hybrid teams, look for candidates who are adaptable, self-motivated, accountable and results-focused, with excellent communication and organisational skills – not to mention prior experience with this type of structure. While this can be a challenging combination of qualities to find in the market, working with a specialist recruiter will help you secure people with the right soft skills to maintain strong team dynamics for the long term.
One advantage of this model is that supporting remote working allows you to significantly expand your talent pool – a huge competitive advantage in a market where certain skillsets remain difficult to find, despite the flood of new candidates available. For example, you will now have the opportunity to hire someone in New Plymouth for a role in Christchurch if they are the best fit for the position, rather than being restricted solely to local candidates.
Managing a hybrid team is both an art and a science. By focusing on clear goals, open communication and consistent standards, you can get the best out of your team members, no matter how their jobs are structured.
Are you hiring for your hybrid team? Get in touch with the Technology recruitment specialists at Sourced to learn how we help businesses across Auckland and Christchurch secure the talent they need.