Chances are your company was pleasantly surprised to find that pandemic-induced remote working went quite a bit better than expected. Both employers and employees everywhere are realizing that working from home does come with a fair few benefits.
No more stressful (and possibly expensive) commutes, easier child care work-arounds, time to get out for a walk at lunchtime, and of course, the joy of being able to live and work in jogging bottoms!
Of course, like anything, there are a few disadvantages to working from home too: the isolation, the ‘forgetting’ to take a shower, and the interruptions from kids, partners and Amazon deliveries to name but a few.
However, we’re not here to talk about the pros and cons of working from home, we’re here to take a closer look at hybrid teams, and specifically how you can make this model work for you.
Because while some companies have decided to take the plunge and go fully remote, others have decided that they still want some in-person employee interaction and are adopting the hybrid model in which employees go into the office one or two days a week
So how can you go hybrid and still ensure your success?
How to create a hybrid team set up that works
Implement your hybrid and remote work policy
If you already have a remote working policy you will need to update it if you’re adding in hybrid work. If you don’t have a policy, you’ll need to develop one from scratch. Here’s what to include:
- Who is eligible for remote and/or remote hybrid work.
- The times you expect your employees to be available when working remotely.
- The specific days and times each week that you would like employees to be in the office.
Clarity and being crystal clear is key here and some logistical shuffling is to be expected so that departments and teams are able to work seamlessly and everyone knows what to expect and what is expected of them.
Set remote hybrid workers up for success
If you’re moving to a remote hybrid model, you might almost want to onboard your existing employees all over again so they know what to expect.
If you’re hiring new people to work under the remote hybrid model it’s essential that not only are they adaptable and conscientious but that you make it very clear what you want from them, particularly on the days that they’re working from home.
Ensure people can still communicate and collaborate
Put simply, hybrid remote (or pure remote) work isn’t going to, well...work if your teams are struggling to communicate.
Dropping by someone’s desk to ask a quick question isn’t an option on remote days, so it’s crucial you have systems and tools in place to ensure that office work and remote work are seamless, and that work still gets done - and gets done in the same amount of time it would in the office.
Think Google Drive for sharing documents and spreadsheets, Slack for communication, Jira for support tickets or tasks and Trello for visual Kanban-style organization among teams. Of course there are many more tools and software solutions out there and each company will have their own go-to.
Make sure your people can actually work
Check in with your employees and make sure they have the tools and circumstances to be able to work properly.
For example, if they have young children at home who they’ve taken out of daycare on the days that they’re working from home to save money, does this mean you’re only going to be getting half an employee for those days?
When it comes to physical needs, consider offering your employees an allowance so that they can purchase a printer, if needed, or a chair that allows them to work comfortably. Or contribute to their internet or phone bill. To make the hybrid work model a success your people need to have the right set-up to be productive.
Don’t forget about team building
True, your employees will probably still see each other a day or two a week, but make sure there’s no room for a disconnect to grow. Especially if new people have since joined the team. Team activities are a must for forging personal connections, a bond, and a willingness to collaborate.
If your people are still all in the same geographical location more or less, think monthly get-togethers, team lunches, happy hour or other activities.
If the hybrid remote model sees you hiring people who genuinely are remote and who may only visit the office once in a blue moon, virtual team building can ensure they still feel part of the team.
Of course, you’ll still be holding team or departmental meetings virtually, in-person, or via a combination of the two if you have meetings on the days when most people are in the office but one or two are remote workers.
But fun events that encourage people to let loose and get to know one another are a viable alternative when happy hour or a coffee meet-up just isn’t possible.
Virtual quiz and games nights can help build camaraderie and will contribute to your company culture, even if your employees aren’t in the same location.
How to create a hybrid team set up that works: conclusion
For a lot of us, hybrid remote work is a new experience so remember that at first it will be a work in progress. Collect employee feedback as you go and be open to suggestions and willing to make tweaks and changes if there are things that just aren’t hitting the mark.
Make checking in with remote employees part of your regular routine. Partly because you want to make sure they know that your lines of communication are as open as they would be in the office. And partly because you need to be assured that they’re online, working, being productive and not taking advantage of the new way of working.
Cynical? Maybe. Sensible? Absolutely.