28th September 2021

Are Your Leaders Ready to Lead in a Hybrid Workplace?

Exclusion. Inequality. Inefficiency. Isolation.

These are a few of the challenges of a hybrid workplace.

To lead a high-performance, engaged hybrid team requires that leaders assure the employee experience is the same whether team members are in the office two days a week, five, or never.

Here’s how:

Emphasize inclusion. 

  • One of the challenges of a hybrid workplace is proximity bias which leads to the incorrect assumption that team members who are in the office are more productive than team members who are working remotely. Create a culture that supports and enables remote workers to be visible, engaged, and active contributors to the team.

Conduct all team meetings via Zoom.

  • A meeting where some of your team members are in person and other team members are joining via video conferencing technology creates inequities. The team members who are in the same physical space can readily observe their colleague’s non-verbal communication, a shoulder shrug or outstretched hand, while remote team members only see a flat face on the screen. Video conferencing is the great equalizer. Everyone is on the same level – in a small Brady Bunch box staring at each other.

Support asynchronous work.

  • Record all meetings so your team members have access to the information they need and have the freedom to complete tasks on their own timetable.
  • Send out meeting agendas 24 – 48 hours in advance so team members can opt in or out of the meeting based on the meeting objective, whether they are needed to achieve it, and their availability.

Encourage your team members to be their own internal PR agents.

  • Neen James, attention expert and keynote speaker, suggests that employees “be their own internal publicist and send their manager on Friday a list of five bullet points describing their achievements for the week.” 
  • Once a month, suggest that your team members summarize and email to you their accomplishments and how they supported or enabled the obtainment of any, all, or some of the team’s and company’s goals. 

Proactively align each team member to different projects, cross-functional teams, and initiatives to combat out-of-sight-out-of-mind for your remote team members.

Intentionally support team members getting together for 15 – 20-minute coffee dates.

  • Ask your team members who they are meeting with on the team and within the company.
  • Urge them to leverage your company’s technology tools to streamline meeting scheduling.

Co-create work execution norms.

You have a powerful opportunity as the workplace changes to affirm the aspects of your culture that work well and those that do not. Co-create work execution norms with your team members that enable everyone’s performance and engagement.

Gather your team and discuss the questions below.

  • What is the best way for us to communicate project updates, information, and urgent requests?
  • What are our expectations regarding response time to IM, email, text messages, and phone calls?
  • What are our team’s work hours? 
  • What days and times during the week do we want to schedule team meetings and team social events? Are there any days and times that we want to be meeting-free?
  • What is the optimal team schedule to support in-office and remote work? What will be our process for modifying and adjusting this schedule as individual and project needs change?
  • How do we want to track and manage team projects?
  • How do we want to manage information management?

Eliminate ambiguity and ensure accountability.

Your team cannot be effective if there are ambiguous expectations and insufficient accountability. 

Start a 20-minute Monday huddle.

  • Empower your team members to align their time and energy to complete the important work vs. the nice to have work.
  • Address and eliminate rework, work that can be automated, and operational inefficiencies that impede productivity and performance.

Ensure goals and timelines are clear.

  • Assess your communication to determine if it passes the “champagne test.”  You know you passed the test if your team knows when to “pop the cork” and celebrate the successful achievement of the goal.
  • Identify the deadline.
  • Does this deadline impact the team’s other priorities? If so, what work must be reprioritized or eliminated?

Drive accountability.

  • Identify who has the “A” or is accountable for the completion of the project. Only one person can be accountable. This does not mean they will complete all the work. However, it does mean they are responsible and must ensure that the work is completed.
  • Is there a clear division of tasks? Does each team member understand their specific tasks?
  • What tool will you use to support and maintain accountability? For example, dashboards, checklists, scorecards, and regular, consistent check-ins.

Support your team members’ social needs.

Back-to-back Zoom calls have left many team members feeling disconnected from their manager and colleagues due to the formal, transactional structure of these calls. Humans are social animals. We want to connect with our colleagues and miss the informal, spontaneous exchanges that occurred in the office breakroom or hallway.   

A hybrid workplace requires an intentional balance between social and transactional team member interactions. 

  • Allow and create space on your calendar for informal connections with your team members that are agenda-free, spontaneous, and casual.
  • Create opportunities for the team to learn about each other – their work, their personal hobbies, and interests. 
  • Schedule in-person team social events or activities. For example, can the team go on a hike, bike ride, or have a happy hour at the local park? 
  • Ask your team members:
  • How do we want to support each other’s social needs?
  • How do we want to balance social and transactional team interactions?

Employers have one of two options as we return to the workplace: co-create a culture with your employees to retain top talent, or lose key employees to companies who are reimagining the workplace. Download our free guide,  How to Partner With Your Employees to Co-create an Engaged and Passionate Workforcehere to ensure that both your employees and your business thrive.