Many managers found themselves facing an unusual management dilemma during the pandemic: hybrid teams. The skills needed to manage people in person differ from those needed to manage virtual and remote employees. Blending both teams together to work toward common goals requires a high degree of commitment, communication, and clarity. Here are our tips to hiring for hybrid and remote work and successfully managing hybrid teams.
Structure Jobs Around Responsiblities (Not Hours)
One of the biggest shifts in thinking when it comes to managing remote workers is thinking about their work in relation to the work product, or responsiblities, rather than the actual hours the employee puts into the job.
You cannot manage people who work remotely as you do people who work on-site. You will not have the ability to monitor their productivity, see how long they’re taking for lunch, or whether they are making personal phone calls throughout the day. What you can do instead is create goal-based work. In goal-based work, an employee and manager agree on goals and work outcomes each week. Typically, Mondays are days for meeting one on one or in small groups with virtual teams and coming up with the week’s goals. Wednesdays are a good day for a quick check-in, with work products due on Fridays. The work product may not be the entire project, but instead, milestones that can be easily achieved on a weekly basis.
This is a form of “agile” project management coined from the book Scrum, a system of project management and team management derived from the tech world that has been successfully deployed in many other industries. It is ideal for managing remote employees and hybrid teams, especially in highly skilled industries such as accounting, marketing, fundraising, operations, and so on.
While much more can be said about this style of management, as a manager overseeing hybrid and remote workers, it is imperative that you stop thinking about them in terms of hours spent on the job and instead think about what they’ve accomplished for the week. This distinction and focus will ensure that your hybrid workers have clear, unambiguous goals to reach which can then be used as performance metrics for evaluation.
Set Firm Boundaries and Expectations
With everyone on instant messaging platforms and connected 24/7 via smartphones, it’s easy to meld personal and professional time together in ways that a decade or more ago would have been unthinkable. Setting clear boundaries and expectations around communications is an important step in ensuring that hybrid teams work well together.
Establish guidelines for returning messages, whether they are on text or messenger platforms of email. One good rule of thumb is that all texts or messages must be returned within 24 hours on business days and by Monday, if sent over the weekend. Emails should be answered within one business day. Stating these guidelines will help the entire team understand their communication commitments and communicate easily and clearly with one another.
Make Hybrid Workers Feel Part of the Team
Lastly, it takes effort to ensure that hybrid workers not only feel part of the team but understand the company culture. Yes, even if someone works 100% remotely, they can still feel the company culture.
What is your company culture? What can you do to infuse it into a hybrid workspace?
First, be sure to take your time onboarding remote employees effectively. Provide an orientation to the company just as you would for an in-person role. You may not be able to physically walk them around the office to show them where the break room and supply cabinet is located, but you can orient them to the organization’s chart, so they know who does what, help them understand their tech stack, and locate items on the cloud drive.
Another important step toward ensuring that hybrid employees feel like they are a part of the team is to ensure they are included in all company get togethers. Plan virtual gatherings as well as in-person ones. Catering lunch in for birthday? Offer them Grub Hub (or whatever is available in their area) and get them on a video call to join the festivities. Keep them updated on company happenings and ensure that from day one, they feel part of the team, too.
Managing any workforce takes skill, but it takes a special manager to ensure that a hybrid team feels and acts like one cohesive unit. With time, patience, and consistency, you too can successfully manage hybrid teams.
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