Skip to content

5 Best Practices for Leading Hybrid Teams

January 12, 2024

The Hybrid Workplace

The hybrid workplace is here to stay. In the latest reading, from a May 2023 Gallup poll, hybrid work trends reveal 52% of U.S. remote-capable employees work in a hybrid environment, 29% are exclusively remote, and 20% work on-site.

In addition to the remote work aspect of hybrid workplace, over 71% of workers surveyed stated that hybrid workplace options are a key factor in their decision to stay with their current employer.

A recent Nextmapping survey of leaders found that over 64% of respondents are struggling with managing hybrid team dynamics.

How can leaders help hybrid teams stay connected and productive?

It starts with leaders being adaptable and having a willingness to change with the reality of that hybrid workplace is the now and future of work.

The skills that leaders have had in the past are not the skills that leaders need for the complexities of the current workplace.

Leaders need to be open and willing to be ‘psychologists’ and to commit to better understanding human behavior.

Leaders who focus on authentic human connection with empathy and clear expectations are more likely to be successful.

5 Best Practices For Leading Hybrid Teams:

#1 Shift Your Mindset About Workplace”Culture”

The future is human in that it is about people and the relationships that we have with each other. Leaders who can foster a culture of trust and collaboration have greater success with hybrid teams. There are some leaders who believe that culture is something that happens only when you have everyone together at the office. The reality is that culture is a mindset and a way of being that is reinforced by collaborative behaviors.

The essence of a hybrid workplace lies in its flexibility and adaptability. It empowers employees to choose their work location — be it from the comfort of their home or the structured setting of an office. This autonomy enhances employee satisfaction and productivity. However, for organizations to truly benefit from this model, they must embrace these principles not just in theory but in their everyday operations.

#2 Accept The Challenges of Hybrid Workplace Dynamics

Despite its advantages, the hybrid model comes with its set of challenges. The foremost among these is maintaining effective communication across distributed teams. Another significant challenge is balancing the needs and inclusion of remote and in-office staff. Addressing these challenges requires a proactive approach and the implementation of specific strategies to ensure no team member feels isolated or disconnected.

Leaders who have been able to navigate the complexity of leading hybrid teams have had to look at their personal work style biases and their own feelings about working remotely or working in office. Part of being flexible and adaptable is to accept the reality of the situation. The reality is that the dynamics of hybrid workplace requires more focus, more intention and more conscious awareness to lead hybrid teams successfully.

#3 Consistently Communicate Hybrid Expectations to the Team

Here at Nextmapping we work with a number of clients who are doing great things and yet still struggling with hybrid team performance. The pattern we see is that when communication begins to fall off, the teams begin to lose focus and productivity. Communication is not as simple as sending emails or having meetings and expecting everyone to be on the same page.

Communication in a hybrid work environment requires leaders to be dedicated to consistently having regularly scheduled one on one meetings with each team member. In the one on ones it is important that the dialogue be about expectations in the hybrid environment, helping each team member with finding solutions to challenges and giving meaningful feedback and support.

A key to the success of a hybrid team is how effectively it can collaborate. Leadership plays a critical role in fostering a sense of the ‘why’ of their work, unity and purpose. Regular check-ins, clear communication channels, and team-building activities are essential strategies. It’s also vital to leverage technology like internal messenger tools to bridge the physical gap between team members.

#4 Regular Training on Tools and Technologies for Hybrid Teams

The right set of tools can make all the difference in a hybrid setup. Collaboration platforms like Slack, Zoom, and Asana facilitate smooth workflow and keep everyone on the same page. It’s not just about having these tools but also about ensuring that every team member is comfortable and proficient in using them.

Team members who can leverage technology to find and fix problems help to increase productivity. Having team members who have not embraced the full scope of the technology available to them can be a big factor in lower productivity. Create buddy systems where team members who are strong with technology and know the tricks and tips with team members who are not as proficient. You could also create a section in your intranet or message board of FAQ’s to common questions around the technology and how to maximize its use.

Leaders cannot expect their teams to be more productive if they do not help support their team members to learn and enhance their knowledge on the skills and tools needed to do their jobs at the highest level possible.

#5 Create Clarity Around What it Means to Be Successful

Productivity is not the only measure of success for a hybrid team. It is also important for everyone on the team to know what it means to be successful and how to achieve it. With the rise of AI and automation it is clear that technology is going to assist with increasing the speed and productivity in the workplace. But people are not robots and to measure their performance on productivity alone is a mistake.

As a leader you know that creating a strong team culture is pivotal. It involves building trust, promoting open communication, and encouraging a sense of belonging among team members. This can be achieved through regular virtual team events, recognizing individual and team achievements, and fostering an environment where feedback is welcomed and valued.

Helping your hybrid team to fully understand the attitudes, the behaviors expected and desired in the culture you are wanting to create helps them to know what they need to do to be successful.

Leading hybrid teams is an art and an opportunity to grow and learn and create new ways of working.

If the hybrid workplace model is here to stay, then its success largely depends on how effectively organizations can manage and enhance hybrid team effectiveness. By embracing the core principles of leadership flexibility and adaptability, addressing the unique challenges it presents, and implementing effective strategies, organizations can unlock the full potential of their hybrid teams.

Cheryl’s newsletter

The latest insights on the future of all things delivered straight to your inbox.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.