A Guide to Hybrid Working for Teams
We’ve learned so much about hybrid working over the last 18 months or so through the pandemic.
Firms that would have never considered letting people work from home at all have had no choice.
And then there are companies that have been doing that all along, and so the transition was quite natural for them.
Now, as employers and employees co-create a “new normal” in the workplace, hybrid working is an option for more of us than ever before.
This guide to hybrid working will help you and your team to collaborate, enhance your individual and collective wellbeing, and work as efficiently and effectively as possible. It will also support you in making the most of the opportunities that hybrid working can bring when it’s done well.
You might also be interested in my article here on how to facilitate mixed mode or hybrid meetings and workshops.
My six tips to help you get the best from your team that I wrote as a guest article will also help you by making sure that your team leadership foundations are in place.
What is hybrid working?
“Hybrid working, which is sometimes referred to as “blended working”, is a form of flexible working that allows employees to split their time between attending the workplace and working remotely (typically from home).”Personnel Today
I think we’ve learned that, in many cases, some people can be much more productive working from home.
For jobs that are not location-dependent, there are so many benefits of working from home, such as not having a commute, flexibility on your daily schedule, being in your own environment and many more. I love this guide on “Working from Home: A Guide to Creating a Healthy and Productive Workspace” which is packed with great tips.
But when it’s not managed well, hybrid working risks disrupting team dynamics and creating performance issues.
In this article, I provide you with ideas to consider and important conversations to have with your team about hybrid working as we all emerge from the events of 2020 and 2021. These will be helpful, even and especially if you have been working remotely for some time and are in the process of opening up your workplace again.
Using these prompts, ideas and tools will ensure that everyone on your team is on the same page, and that there is buy-in for your hybrid working philosophy and values.
Hybrid working conversations to have with your team
There are a number of conversations about hybrid working that I recommend you have with your team in a workshop or meeting environment.
- Asking and answering the question: What does hybrid working mean for us in practise?
- Co-creating a team charter to achieve consensus and agreement on how everybody’s going to work together in this new hybrid working world.
- Agreeing how you will all ensure effective communication in hybrid working team environment.
- Protocol for managing meetings.
Checkout each of the sections below for more guidance on how to approach these four themes with your team.
1. Ask: What does hybrid working mean for us?
Of course, what hybrid working means in practise will vary from team to team and from the jobs that people in the team do.
You and your team will need to consider the impact of hybrid working on what you do and how you operate.
Identify those times when you do need to be physically present together and, if you can, agree on a regular day and time that you can all meet up to work in-person.
Consider any hours or locations that you may need to cover via an in-person presence, and agree how best to organize responsibilities for that coverage.
If you’re a leader of a team that’s about to start hybrid working more formally, or even if you’ve been doing it for a while, I would encourage you to think through the lessons you’ve learned in lockdown, what’s worked well, what can you keep doing, and also what might be good to change and do differently.
2. Co-create a Team Charter
Dedicate a session, or an entire team meeting, to co-creating your Team Charter in the context of hybrid working. Use a Team Charter canvas, like the one I have created below.
Discuss and agree each item as a team. You could start off by everyone working individually to add their own sticky notes (either into a flip chart in a physical meeting, or a virtual whiteboard such as Miro in an online session) under each heading. Then facilitate a team discussion and visibly capture the points you all agree as a team that you’ll commit to.
Here are some discussion prompts for each heading in the Team Charter canvas.
1. Purpose – Define the purpose of the team
- What are you there to do?
- What are your priorities?
- What’s important for you as a team?
2. Values – Define what you believe in
Values are the important principles, important beliefs, ways of behaving and seeing the world that connect everyone. They represent how the business does business.
If your organization already has a set of defined its values, think about how those values apply to your team and how you’re going to continue to bring them to life in the hybrid working environment.
If your business has not defined it’s values, then work together to determine what values you’re going to share. If you’d like some specific activity suggestions for this, along with some examples of values, my article Facilitation ideas for mission, vision and values will be super-helpful.
3. Challenges, opportunities and solutions
Map out all the hybrid working challenges, opportunities and solutions you think you may face as a team. Then, decide how you’ll handle them together, if and when they arise.
If you put it out there and talk about it, you can find solutions to fix it. Better to be proactive and find solutions early than wait for things to happen and then just react.
4. What we do in-person
Make a clear and comprehensive list of all those things you really do need or want to be together for in-person to do.
5. What we do remotely
Remember also that some things might actually be more effective if they’re done remotely, such as quick updates or action-planning sessions. Make an agreed list of all these things, too.
3. Hybrid working and effective team communication
Communication a significant topic that is worthy of its own specific conversation as your team works towards a more permanent hybrid working approach. Communication is the glue that keeps teams together and makes a big difference to overall team performance and individual wellbeing.
Communication prompts for you to discuss with your team
- How you will manage informal and formal communications when hybrid working is in place
- Communication priorities – i.e. what does everyone have to know, what would it be nice to know and what communication could be optional, perhaps available for people to access if they’d like to?
- What current and potential communication gaps and challenges does the team experience or foresee? What solutions could you put in place to improve them?
- Inclusivity. How will you make sure that everyone feels appropriately included, and that conversely you also don’t include people in communication for the sake of it. It’s not great if the people who are on site on a certain day or more often than others get to find out about nd get involved in more decisions or more projects than those who are working remotely.
In summary, collectively consider what needs communicating, when and how to involve every team member appropriately.
4. Protocol for managing meetings
It is important to also have conversations about the types of meetings you will have and how you’re going to collaborate during them.
Meetings generally fall into two categories, convergent and divergent.
Convergent meetings are where we’re exchanging information, providing general updates and making decisions.
Convergent meetings are fairly straightforward, you just need to make sure you include all the right people so that everybody’s informed.
Divergent meetings are where we’re creating new ideas, collaborating or exploring topics.
With divergent meetings, it is important to think through the best way to manage them and to really work on the balance of participation from both remote and physical attendees.
Both convergent and divergent meetings can be done online and/or in-person, subject to good planning and organization. Here are some tips to help with your preparations:
Tips for successful hybrid meetings
- Come prepared
- Provide all attendees with an agenda in advance of the session
- Clearly state the objectives of the meeting
- Encourage virtual attendees to have cameras and mics on
Interesting fact: research shows that remote-only teams have far more meetings than teams that work in person or on hybrid teams.
Make sure you outline what meetings you’re going to have and when, minimizing the number and length of meetings.
It is easy to book meetings back to back to back when you’re online. But, people need some space between meetings to refocus and have a quick break. We all need to be mindful of screen-time, too.
With hybrid working, make sure you’ve got the right balance. Have a meeting when you need one, but make sure it has a purpose, is productive, and that your meetings are well-spaced out and that the overall workload for everybody is appropriate.
I hope this guide to hybrid working is a useful start for you and your team, whether you’re continuing existing arrangements and want to review them, or adopting the approach for the first time.
You might also find this article interesting too: Leading collaboration in remote teams
If you’d like regular facilitation and team performance tips, techniques and training, join my free, private Facebook group, Idea Time for Workshop Facilitators here.