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Managing hybrid teams? Follow the six rules for success

Cubo writersOct 11, 2022

Now that more companies have embraced hybrid working as part of a long-term recruitment and growth strategy, understanding the core elements of managing hybrid teams that are high-yielding is essential.

When some of your team is in the office, and some other team members work remotely, you can't stick to a traditional managing style.

Instead, this work environment requires a dynamic management style that addresses the unique obstacles you'll face when managing hybrid teams.

The six pillars for managing hybrid teams that flourish

When managing hybrid teams, you have to overcome two sets of problems: the ones affecting your in-office team and those affecting staff who have embraced remote work.

Often -- much to the benefit of your management style -- these teams share similar hassles, although they may present themselves differently, depending on the team.

Prioritize digital communication as a cornerstone of effective communication

A video conference call on zoomThe first obstacle you need to tackle when managing hybrid teams is communication. Issues arise between remote employees and in-office staff because of a lack of meaningful communication.

This miscommunication leads to teams -- with one objective -- working in conflict rather than in unison.

Miscommunication is often exacerbated because teams don't know how to communicate effectively across different working modes. In-office staff may hold a quick -- informal -- meeting to resolve an issue without involving their remote work teammate.

This teammate, divorced from the real-time conflicts and resolutions, may still be following through with now-redundant projects or tasks.

Many hybrid team managers will place the onus on an individual to inform their remote work colleague of any changes. This strategy creates an us-versus-them office environment (more on that below) while excluding a vital component -- the virtual team -- from providing valuable input. Essentially this communication system hinders collaboration, slowing productivity and impeding quick resolutions.

An excellent tool to reverse this lack of communication is Cubo. Cubo creates the type of collaborative environment that helps foster teamwork. Cubo mimics many personal aspects of working in-office -- listening in on meetings, starting informal chats, meeting colleagues in a virtual breakroom -- which employees conducting remote work will enjoy.

Furthermore, the SaaS tool enables in-office employees to relay information seamlessly to remote teams and allows remote teams to give feedback in real time.

Create a schedule that works when managing hybrid teams, but remains flexible

Your next priority should be to create a schedule that is attractive to all employees. Before you let employees decide when they'll come in and under which conditions, develop a timetable that reflects the employees' work.

For example, if you have a sales team that is pursuing targets toward the end of the month, create an in-office schedule where most employees will be in-office around this time to avoid having to communicate across remote and in-office teams.

Any support staff should also be in-office or online and available on your communication SaaS tool.

Additionally, staff should be able to give feedback on -- and input in -- the creation of the schedule to ensure it's fair and reflects a hybrid model that makes them most productive.

Foster a collaborative atmosphere, rather than a them-vs-us culture

Most in-office staff begin to begrudge their remote colleagues because they perceive their remote work teammates have more freedom.

The notion among staff working in the office is that remote employees aren't under the same scrutiny as them and therefore have more control of their work environment.

Pyjama day? A remote employee can embrace this. Lunch at 3 pm and coffee break every 30 minutes? A remote worker has the liberty to do this.

Yet, in-office employees do not have these liberties.
From the virtual team's perspective, they may feel they are excluded from day-to-day decision-making and feedback. As a result, they may feel distant from their teammates.

To avoid this separation from developing, focus on creating equality.

If in-office employees have to be at their desks unless during lunch or other short breaks, require the same of remote teams. 

You can track your remote team's availability on Cubo, which shows when they're available, in a meeting, or away.

You can also use Cubo's social lounge to track availability, as the tool requires remote employees to have their audio on while working from home.

Measure performance fairly and share parameters with the team

When managing hybrid teams, while some aspects need to be tailored to the team member, other aspects need to be uniform, and performance metrics require equality to maintain morale.

The metrics you measure your staff on should be things neither remote workers nor in-office staff has an advantage over the other.

Fair metrics can include the quality of work rather than the quantity. The efficiency of an employee -- how much high-quality work they can complete within an hour -- and meeting individual goals should also be metrics.

Then inform employees of these measures, so they know how to improve their performance.

Setup events where the remote team and in-office team can get together

Another reason managing hybrid teams becomes challenging is that most in-office staff will start creating bonds with their colleagues, something they can't do with remote workers.
A  woman holding a beer can drinking beverage alcohol in a virtual partyYou can shift this attitude by creating social events -- virtual and in-person -- that employees should attend. Think about the events that encourage the conversation to build morale among all employees.

Ideas can include speed meeting -- an office-friendly version of speed dating -- solving murder mysteries or participating in a hybrid virtual escape room.

Whatever the event, ensure it's one where remote and in-office teams have to cross-pollinate, as this will be better for managing hybrid teams.

Focus on mental health support for your virtual team and in-office teams

Isolated from colleagues and daily interaction, a virtual team member's mental health can deteriorate. When mental health deteriorates, so does productivity, attendance, and communication.

Rather than try to manage the symptoms of poor mental health, be proactive by setting up mental health support and counseling that employees can access 24/7.

You can also encourage remote work teams to participate in virtual social events to prevent them from feeling isolated. And, most importantly, motivate a work-life balance.

Often remote workers can work for longer hours than in-office staff because they don't have the separation between their office and their home. Rather than allow them to remain online long after office hours, encourage them to stick to reasonable working hours.

If your remote team isn't in the same location as your in-office employees, consider hiring a flexible workspace for them, which would force them to adhere to working hours.

Then, to avoid in-office staff feeling as though they aren't accessing the same rewards as remote staff, also avail mental health resources for them. These can be the same or similar resources as remote teams.

However, you have greater control of their work-life balance and can therefore foster a working environment that prioritizes life beyond the office by encouraging them to leave the office at a reasonable hour.

Whatever you do, remember the key to managing hybrid teams is promoting equality.

Incorporating these basic principles into your hybrid team management philosophy will enable you to build the kind of team that succeeds at meeting company objectives.

It's also these pillars of managing virtual teams that will make your role as a leader easier.