Are your teams ready for the hybrid working model?

According to a study by Barco, a hybrid working model is the most attractive alternative for employees. Three days in the office and two in the home office is the optimal split identified in most studies in order to combine the best of both worlds. In this way, you stabilize social contacts and facilitate collaboration on the one hand and enable flexibility and freedom on the other.

Exactly how you design your personal model ultimately depends on your corporate culture and the goals you want to achieve with the hybrid working model.

However, there is a lot to consider in order to successfully implement hybrid working in a team. The following checklist is designed to help you assess your personal “hybrid readiness”:

Checkliste for hybrid teams

01 Clarify expectations

Don’t just send your team back to the office while others remain in the home office. Actively manage your hybrid team: clarify common expectations about how the next period will be organized and record important points, e.g.

  • which tools will be used
  • which meetings are binding for whom
  • what can be done in the event of sudden problems
  • how the exchange of information will take place
  • general communication channels and how everyone stays informed
  • how work results are documented and shared

Create guidelines together with your team in the form of a team agreement. This sets out how your remote team works best together, what roles and responsibilities there are, what information is shared on which channels and how, and which tools and communication channels are used for what. If such a team agreement is adopted by the entire team, there is a high level of commitment and fundamental questions have been clarified in advance.

02 Clear responsibilities

Especially when team members are present at different times, it should be transparent who is assigned to which role in the team so that chaos does not arise and important tasks are not left undone. However, as the allocation of roles is usually only carried out sporadically in everyday working life and is quickly lost, it helps to visualize the team structure with the corresponding allocation of roles in a way that is accessible to everyone.

  • Who networks the team externally?
  • Who can you ask when creative ideas are collected?

A look at the team line-up reveals who in the team is a “networker” or “innovator”, for example, and who can best help with certain challenges.

03 Work content and communication

Divide the upcoming challenges into clear, manageable tasks and define the desired result, responsibilities and schedule for each task so that you can delegate effectively and everyone in the team can work independently.

If the team has to ask each other too many questions, this slows down the entire team. Especially in hybrid team settings, every digital message causes certain disruptions. At the start of hybrid teamwork, not all employees have the confidence to use digital and physical communication channels in the same way or do not know how to behave. Make it transparent for everyone who is currently working on what in order to illustrate interdependencies.

Create a good mix of asynchronous and synchronous communication: Asynchronous time is important for concentrated, trouble-free processing of tasks. Synchronous times are necessary to generate ideas and solve problems together. However, if these two forms of communication alternate too frequently, this makes the team unproductive.

05 Feedback and appreciation

Depending on the type of team and industry, some roles may be more important than others. This also applies to hybrid teams.

  • The increased organizational effort that inevitably arises with hybrid teams requires a coordinator in the team to manage the processes. The coordinator clarifies questions such as: What can run autonomously? What needs to be approved by whom?
  • It is helpful to fill the role of team player. The team player always has the team’s common goal in mind and is happy to cooperate. They help to ensure that there are no gaps in knowledge and that everyone is on the same page, despite different levels of availability.

A targeted allocation and communication of responsibilities is essential here. This makes it clear at all times who is responsible for ordering technical equipment for home office time, for example, or who provides everyone with the latest information.

05 Feedback und Wertschätzung

Give feedback not only after the tasks have been completed, but also during the work process. This will keep you up to date, allow you to discuss interim results and clarify problems

  • Get active yourself and ask whether there are any ambiguities in the completion of tasks.
  • At a distance, many employees do not have the confidence to contact their manager when problems arise.
    contact them. It’s a different story in the office. Actively manage this imbalance in the team by giving all team members similar attention.

Monitoring team effectiveness

How do you notice whether effectiveness is suffering under the hybrid working model? And how quickly do you recognize new challenges for teams that arise due to the increased complexity of collaboration?

This is helpful:

  • Continuous surveys of team potential in the form of short team checks make it possible to regularly “listen in” on the teams and track their development. Team effectiveness is monitored despite physical distance. If an area of a team’s development deteriorates significantly, intervention can be carried out quickly.
  • It is easiest if the potential analysis takes place digitally and is carried out in recurring cycles. This means less effort and much easier scalability to all teams in the organization.

07 Special features of written communication

Collaboration in a hybrid team consists to a large extent of asynchronous communication, in which the sending and receiving of information takes place at different times. Written communication forms the basis for the exchange of information. However, it is much more difficult to express emotions and clear intentions in text messages.

  • It often happens that expectations are interpreted incorrectly or negatively, and answers or necessary actions fail to materialize.
  • Furthermore, the “free rider” problem regularly occurs in hybrid teams: “Someone else does it, nobody feels addressed”.

08 The right team meeting mix

You may be familiar with the following scenario: you use the right technology and tools to conduct online meetings with your team. The tools are intuitive, the technology is readily available and is usually not the main problem. Everyone is focused in the team meeting. However, the discussed actions are often not carried out afterwards, tasks are not completed or there is simply a lack of commitment.

  • Find the right mix of virtual meetings and physical presence.
  • Nothing can replace regular “town hall” meetings followed by face-to-face exchanges on site.

Conclusion: Hybrid working models offer flexibility and the opportunity to respond better to the needs of individual employees. An optimized work-life balance often leads to higher employee engagement. Before introducing hybrid working in your company, it is advisable to assess the current situation and consider the desired goals.

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