The definition of a hybrid team has rapidly evolved. In the past, “hybrid” meant employees who worked either in-office or remotely, rarely going back and forth. Due to the pandemic, hybrid is now more fluid and means employees get to choose where they work and when they work there. A hybrid team has a mix of members, some in the office, some remote, with team members alternating between those locations depending on their work or personal needs
While this hybrid team arrangement may make managers skeptical of being able to keep track of their workers, this flexibility is not only quickly becoming the new norm, but some polls show it is unlikely that every employee working in the office Monday through Friday will return. Here are some pros and cons on hybrid teams for managers to consider.
Pros of a hybrid team
- Employee satisfaction can be enhanced, giving workers greater decision-making autonomy, including the choice of where they work and when they work there, which has been shown to improve job satisfaction and overall wellbeing.
- Higher worker retention is often a by-product of the employee happiness described above, and happier workers are significantly more likely to stay with their company.
- A wider talent pool is available to hiring managers. Filling an open position on a hybrid team means the flexibility to hire the most qualified candidate regardless of where the candidate is physically located, thus expanding the scope of candidates.
Cons of a hybrid team
- Communication breakdowns can result from the challenges of bringing hybrid team members together, potentially resulting in the formation of silos. Both fully remote and hybrid teams have reported that communication and collaboration were among their main struggles.
- Social connection strain is not uncommon in hybrid teams, which often results from an “us versus them” mentality between office and remote employees. This can break down the relationships and bonds that are crucial to team trust and goodwill.
- Reduced visibility is a potential concern in hybrid teams, both for managers, who are less able to see the work their employees are doing, and for employees, who might feel that “out of sight, out of mind” will affect their performance reviews and advancement potential.
Tips on managing a hybrid team
For managers, here are some things you can do to optimize the advantages and minimize the disadvantages of leading a hybrid team.
- Cultivate a remote-first culture both within and outside your team. This means acting with remote working as the default mode. That way you are always prepared to deal with remote employees, while team members are set up to thrive from anywhere, whether in the office or remotely.
- Trust your workers that they will meet performance expectations regardless of their location of work. This means setting the expectation of a results-based culture, emphasizing what the team is producing, not so much how they do it.
- Solicit and offer regular feedback to both let your team members know how they are progressing and to demonstrate your interest in their work and success. Many employees don’t know how to ask for feedback, so recurring on-on-one meetings to connect, solicit their feedback, and discuss their challenges are key.
The days of pulling your team from their desks for a quick meeting or looking out from your office to see your team working side-by-side are rapidly waning, with flexible hybrid teams quickly becoming the norm and here to stay. While hybrid teams do present some challenges, there are some advantages as well, and employing the above tips can help lead a hybrid team that works well together whether they are working in the office or halfway around the world.