The event of a global pandemic has radically accelerated the uptake of remote working. As a result, hybrid working is here to stay.
The hybrid working model enables employees to combine both working from home and working on location. It’s a model that supports autonomy, flexibility, high performance and collaboration.
HR leaders and managers can establish hybrid working models that best suit the needs of both employees and the business.
What you’ll learn
- Why connection is important in hybrid teams and how it can improve team performance
- What role communication plays in connecting a hybrid team
- 6 strategies for connecting hybrid teams through improved communication
Why is connection important in hybrid teams?
Positive working cultures lead to a host of benefits over time, including improved employee performance, well-being, and staff retention. A major element of creating a positive working culture is to ensure employees feel connected to each other as a team.
A connected team drives collaboration, nurtures healthy working relationships, and promotes knowledge-sharing. The more connected your teams feel the more efficient the workplace will be.
Connection can be supported with the right communication techniques.
Communication techniques for connecting hybrid teams
1. Embrace diversity
Finding the best way to use employees’ work styles can help to foster innovation and sustainability. If everyone had a linear, analytical and planned approach to working, communication would be easy but bold new ideas might be minimal.
Diversity in the work styles of team members is something every manager of a hybrid team needs to think about. Susan may like to wake up early to catch up on emails before hopping on Zoom calls in the afternoon. Tony may prefer to get his meetings out of the way early so that he can delve into project work in the afternoon.
The trick is to leverage everyone’s diverse working styles.
2. Analyse your current communication channels
Working in a hybrid team means managing asynchronous schedules. Not everyone receives your messages when you intend them to. Add to that different communication channels and the different variables are even more complex.
Employees need to have a deep understanding of how to choose which channel for different types of communication. Without it, employees will simply choose the channel they are most comfortable with, which can lead to poor communication.
Take the time to analyse current communication channels that your hybrid teams are using. Create a list of preferred channels and try to avoid any overlap. You might choose Zoom for weekly team meetings and brainstorming sessions, Slack for small project updates and giving kudos, and Microsoft Teams for company announcements.
3. Think about daily communications
What does your team do every day to communicate? Is body language a requirement for success? Will a verbal conversation do? Does the activity require clear documentation of every detail? Would a virtual whiteboard help?
Having made an overarching plan for your key communications you can then look at the everyday communications within your organisation and assign each type to a single channel that will produce the greatest outcome.
4. Hold hybrid teams accountable
Once you’ve communicated the reason for introducing clear communication protocols you’ll need to determine strategies that will hold employees accountable for choosing the right channel when communicating. If team members get comfortable breaking protocols and defaulting to their preferred communication style, your hybrid working model can quickly become disjointed again.
To introduce accountability, consider the four C’s:
- Common purpose
- Clear expectations
5. Aim for consistency
When setting virtual check-in meetings, try to keep it to the same time each day or week (depending on your preferred frequency). Ask them what they got done yesterday, what they’ll be doing today and what others can do to help the completion of upcoming tasks.
When employees know they have a meeting coming up they can store their queries rather than clog up other channels. If you document what’s said during these meetings then all updates can be stored in one place so that everyone is on the same page.
With regular meetings, teams can identify potential issues early and adapt to changes or updates accordingly.
6. Accept feedback
If your team has feedback regarding the communication protocols, welcome it. They might have some valuable insights you hadn’t thought about.
Effective feedback has benefits for the giver, receiver and the wider organisation. Asking for feedback can actually motivate employees to perform better and it’s an important tool for continued learning as you navigate the world of hybrid team management.
Managing a hybrid workforce
Hybrid work is poised to be the darling of the modern workforce but it doesn’t come without challenges. Managing different variables such as individual work styles and timezones can result in muddled communication and a disconnect when interpreting certain messages. That’s why clear communication protocols are so important.
Managing a hybrid workforce is part art and part science. It can be influenced by leadership, hiring choices, work environment, values and how employees connect with one another. Instilling a shared set of behaviours in team members is a critical part of any hybrid team.