Remember the time when you could pull your entire team in conjunction for a brainstorming session over coffee? It feels like an event from a parallel universe, doesn’t it? Well, that’s because things have changed drastically over the last year.
As we’re moving towards a post-pandemic era with more and more individuals getting vaccinated daily, organisations face an interesting problem. While some of their employees are working from the office, others are working entirely from home. A few have even opted for both and are oscillating between them.
As hybrid teams are a somewhat new phenomenon, managers are finding it super hard to find the right balance. In fact, the employees also find it arduous to communicate with their colleagues effectively. Unlike a full-time in-office team where employees sit and work closely, remote teams are trickier to handle. Managers handling a full-time in-office team can hold impromptu meetings. The same is slightly tougher to do with remote workers.
One of the biggest struggles of managers is handling inequality. At times, remote workers feel left out as they tend to miss important information because they aren’t present in the office. That is why managers need to ensure that in-office and remote employees have all the resources to perform their best. In no way should they feel that other employees are getting a preference over them.
However, that isn’t enough. As a manager, you’ll have to use unique strategies and tools to manage your hybrid team effectively. Read on to know about the tools and strategies on how to manage a hybrid workforce.
How to Manage a Hybrid Workforce For Better Collaboration & Communication
1. Project Management Software/ Team Management Software
The first tool you must consider for managing a hybrid team is project management software or team management software. This software is used for resource allocation, project planning, and scheduling. You can allot projects to your team members and set deadlines using this software. It allows employees to collaborate by sharing files, messages, and more.
Here are some of the software that effectively understands the status of projects and will help you manage a hybrid workforce.
- Liquid Planner
- Base Camp
- Zoho Projects
2. Messaging Apps
While video conferencing allows teams to work through sticky issues, messaging apps make day-to-day conversation going. They permit team members to share thoughts and vital files with each other. Some managers even use it to boost the morale of their employees by creating fun groups on messaging apps. You can also use it to receive feedback from your employees. Here are some of the potent messaging apps that you can use.
- Zoho Cliq
3. Cloud-Based Services
With the rise of remote teams, the trend of working across devices has also caught on. Think about it. We check our work emails in the morning on our smartphones. Post that, we move on to our devices only to end up with a tablet for some final check-ins. That is why it’s essential to use cloud-based services.
They allow hybrid workers to switch from one device or location to another swiftly. Plus, these services also allow you to save money. Wondering how to manage a hybrid workforce using cloud-based services? Here are some of the cloud-based services that you can utilise.
- Google Drive
- Microsoft OneDrive
4. Video Conferencing Software
There are times when remote workers end up missing out on vital information. As a result, they feel disconnected. Messaging apps help them communicate and stay in touch on an everyday basis. However, they are not enough.
Video conferencing is one of the best ways to avoid miscommunication. Compared to audio conferencing, where employees tend to zone out, video conferencing ensures superior levels of engagement. What makes video conferencing more personal is the fact that team members get to see each other and absorb nonverbal cues. Here are some of the video conferencing software that you can use.
Tips on How To Manage a Hybrid workforce
1. Trust Your Team
The thing that can cause immense damage to both you and your teammates is a lack of trust. In the current scenario, it’s super easy for on-site workers to feel that remote workers have more freedom. On the contrary, remote workers may feel that they aren’t are trusted by managers as on-site workers are.
As a hybrid team manager, you must provide all workers with equal opportunities and make them feel trusted.
2. Avoid Overcommunication
While it is alright to share the necessary details with your employees, over-communication can make them overwhelmed and annoyed. It might be the constant notification or phone calls. What overcommunication does is that it leaves them feeling anxious and with lesser time to do their work.
3. Stop Micromanaging
Stop micromanaging the work of your employees. While you’re only doing it to help them, micromanaging impairs productivity and makes team members feel dissatisfied. As a manager, you must ask your employees about how they’d like to be managed. Moreover, set clear expectations for all your employees and practise delegating tasks.
4. Don’t Adopt Too Many Tools
A common mistake that many managers make while handling a hybrid workforce is adopting too many tools. Doing so wouldn’t result in the better connectivity of your hybrid team. Instead, it’ll result in loss of knowledge and disparities. It’d require team members to switch between different tools for information and collaboration constantly.
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Strategies For a Managing a Hybrid Workforce
Most managers don’t know how to manage a hybrid workforce in the current work climate. Here are some of the strategies that can you can use. They’re efficient and encourage open communication across and within teams.
1. Sharing team updates
If you’re a manager who updates their team non-uniformly and irregularly, then you’re setting yourself for failure.
The reason being that these things affect employee morale and lead to miscommunication. In order to avoid this, you need to establish the right policies that ensure essential updates get shared with all the employees. Online team communication can be used to make employees aware of even the tiniest of details.
2. Give Employees Ownership
Not providing ownership to employees means not providing them with the required autonomy. While imparting feedback and guiding your employees is essential, you mustn’t handhold your employees all the time. In order to establish clear ownership in your hybrid team, you can decentralise command. Take the big decision by all means but ensure that both on-site and remote workers get enough responsibilities and freedom to make their own decisions. For a hybrid team, a result-based culture is the best fit.
3. Providing Opportunites For Social Connection
Man is a social animal. Our social connections play a crucial role in our happiness, stress levels, and performance. Your employees need social connections more than ever now when forging these connections have become a tedious task. Many people tend to get lonely working in a remote environment. That is why you need to provide social opportunities to your employees. Making them accessible for both remote and on-site workers is essential. So how to manage a hybrid workforce by providing them ample opportunities for social connections? Here are few things that you can do.
- Make a standing video conference where employees can jump in for coffee or lunch.
- Set up a faithful instant message channel for friendly exchanges like movie recommendations and fun trivia.
- Plan virtual events for your remote employees. It can be a virtual happy hour or a virtual quiz contest.
In addition to these techniques, you can also reserve time at the end of your virtual meetings for personal updates.
4. Remote-First Team Approach
As a manager, you’re looking to run things smoothly at the moment. That is why your best bet at the moment is to run a remote-first team. To put it simply, you must make remote work the default for your team. It’d enable your hybrid team to do great work by getting the right processes and systems in place. The emphasis must be on collaboration and not on location. But how to manage a hybrid workforce with a remote-first approach? Here’s how.
- Making use of tools that can be accessed from anywhere and any device.
- Including a video link with team meeting invites
- Asking both on-site and remote workers to join video calls from their own devices as they make interactions easier.
- Unifying communication in a specific platform so that employees don’t miss vital messages.
5. Offering Feedback Regularly
Most employees want feedback but have trouble asking for it. So, as a manager, you must schedule recurring one-to-one meetings with each employee at least once a month. In these meetings, you can connect with them about the challenges that they are facing, daily work, and broader career goals. It’d be an opportunity for you to understand what’s working and what isn’t. Afterwards, you can make the necessary amends in your hybrid work culture. Plus, your employees will also get an opportunity to bring up sticking points or concerns.
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Hybrid teams are a new reality that every manager must accept. As they’re a reasonably new concept, adapting to them can seem daunting and tricky. The good news is that there are potent tools available in the market that make managing hybrid teams easier. In addition to that, there are various strategies that managers can use to maintain strong team dynamics and ensure that no employee feels left out. You can test the tools and strategies mentioned in this article and figure out what works best for your organisation.