Here's How to Manage a Hybrid Team
Recently Apple announced that their employees will return to a hybrid workstyle in September. Amazon has adjusted the workweek to three days from the office, allowing employees to work remotely for two days. Many companies are likely moving into a hybrid work environment by the end of this year or start of the next year.
If your company has announced or is planning to announce a hybrid work week, this would be a good time to prepare yourself for the upcoming changes. If you are a manager or team lead, we would like to share some tips that will help you prepare for a hybrid work environment and also ensure that your team is in sync during this time.
The number of people getting vaccinated is increasing by each day. However, despite the vaccine, the chances of contracting the virus aren’t zero percent. Hence, people are still stressed out and skeptical about coming back to the office. Additionally, employees with kids may want prefer a work remotely, especially if the schools do not open at the same time as offices do.
As a manager, make sure you understand these concerns and don’t push your teammates to work from the office if they are not comfortable.Don’t hesitate to show some vulnerability to your teammates, empathizing with their situation and letting your guard down once in a while only makes you human. Keep a keen eye on people in your team for any signs of worry, distress, or mental issues.
Prioritize the important deliverables
When team members are working from different locations and time zones, there can be a disconnect in communication. It is, therefore, important to conduct weekly team meetings to discuss the upcoming deliverables and set expectations.
Additionally, scheduling frequent one-on-ones with your team can also be a great way to check in on the progress and fix any roadblocks that are in their way.
The pandemic has proven that working remotely doesn’t get in the way of meeting deadlines, completing projects and solving problems. In a hybrid work environment, some of your teammates may work from the office, and others remotely. There is a common misconception that people who work from the office are more productive. The pandemic has proven that its simply not true.
As a manager and a leader, you can take certain measures to ensure everyone on your team feels included. Conduct all of the meetings over Zoom. If you are working from the office, don’t conduct in-person meetings with the team members in the office, leaving out the ones working remotely.
Promote a healthy work-life balance
The pandemic has evidently blurred the boundaries between work and home life. During some weeks, many of us are guilty of working extra hours. While your employees who are working from home may take on extra work, be mindful of the ones at the office and ensure they don’t take leftover work at home too.
If the teammates are working without striking a balance between work and their home life, they can get burnt out easily. Make sure that the employees don’t overwork themselves and are establishing healthy boundaries between their work and family life.
Be flexible with time-off
Time-off is essential to reboot and reset from the everyday grind. With the travel restrictions in place all over the world, many people haven’t had a chance to take time off to relax and travel to new places.
Research has proven that taking a vacation can significantly lower stress levels and increase productivity. Encourage your teammates to take occasional time-off and also make sure no employee goes a long time without taking some downtime for themselves. Also, you need to set an example and take time off yourself regularly too. At times employees may feel hesitant to take time off if their manager or boss doesn’t do it often.
Under normal circumstances, it is possible for things to go haywire. Imagine being in the middle of a pandemic - surely things can easily deflect from the way you had planned, but that’s ok. Don’t beat yourself or your employees down for mistakes that happen unexpectedly. Being patient and understanding in this unprecedented time can help lessen the pressure on your teammates.
Practice no-meeting Fridays
Establishing no meeting days for some days of the week can be a great way to lift extra pressure off of your employees. Recently, Citi - the third largest bank in the US, placed a ban on Friday Zoom meetings. Jane Fraser, Citi CEO in her memo said that the pandemic workday has taken a toll on everyone’s well-being and it’s not a sustainable way for the long term. Hence, she announced a ban on Friday meetings.
The term Zoom fatigue has been frequently used during the pandemic. According to Stanford University research, talking over Zoom can wear you out more than talking in person. Looking at yourself on the screen is similar to looking at the mirror for a long time, which is not normal. Zoom meetings can also interfere with mobility as it is hard to move around when you are in front of the screen, restricting you to one spot at times for hours.
You can reduce Zoom fatigue for yourself and your employees. Try not to schedule a meeting on Friday. If needed, stick to audio meetings, ensuring all cameras are turned off.
Be mindful of mental health and wellness
The pandemic has been challenging for everyone, particularly for youth, and adults. Isolation, housing instability, health problems, etc. have resulted in heightened anxiety, stress, depression, and substance abuse. In early 2020, between March to May, during the early lockdown periods, an increased number of drug overdose deaths were reported.
There are certain actions you can take to ensure that your employees don’t feel unheard and isolated when in mental distress. Offer flexible work schedules, meditation/relaxation spaces in the office, increased breaks, and mental health benefits.