Prior to 2020, Gallup polling revealed that the number of employees engaged with their work hovered at around 33%, a figure that hadn’t moved in over a decade. Now, as organizations create strategies for leading hybrid teams, the stage is set for a transformational shift in remote and on-site workforce solutions.
Creating hybrid team cultures means leveraging the possibilities of remote work while keeping your organizations mission front and center across a dispersed workforce. It’s a tricky balance to strike, yet the tools and strategies teams use can accelerate better collaboration, higher productivity, and greater long-term sustainability.
One of the main challenges with hybrid work lies in the inherent advantage on-site employees seem to have. By being able to take advantage of the shoulder tap and other long-standing methods of getting into direct contact with their coworkers, there’s a risk that remote employees are left behind in terms of communication as well as comradery.
Now, including both types of team members requires priority and day-to-day action. Ensure every in-person team meeting of substance includes remote stakeholders who can ask questions and provide feedback as seamlessly as if they were in the room.
Equally important is ensuring the advantages of remote work aren’t overlooked. Team members in far-flung time zones should have access to pre-recorded meetings in order to enable asynchronous work, allowing them to get more done without impediment.
Defaulting to remote means assessing team productivity goals on an equal field. Align your SMART goals and employee KPIs around projects and data that allow for evaluative consistency between all types of workers. No one is left out of the conversation for assigning job duties or assessing promotions simply because of their work environment; the focus is left on who’s achieving what when every team member is kept in the telecommunications loop.
25% of employees do not know how to request feedback, a number that is only likely to grow as teams become more dispersed. This breakdown in communication runs two ways: Workers who are unable to gain insight into their performance are also unlikely to provide feedback on the way their virtual office function.
This is where the right data empowers hybrid teams. By leaning into a remote-first collaborative culture, organizations gain more granular insights into where time is being spent—and when.
All types of employees can benefit from a more flexible approach to scheduling, for example, but knowing what an equitable calendar looks like can be difficult. Data into who’s online when, as well as from what devices and applications, show consistent patterns into workflows team members create for themselves.
Of course, self-reporting and virtual conversations are just as important as data insights. When combined, entire teams have the potential to be transformed thanks to the numbers backing our attitudes to our work. Leaders and team members alike may be surprised by what they find, but adjusting schedules, devices, and duties is simply a matter of following the data.
Leading dispersed teams often comes down to trusting in one’s staff. Learning the right KPIs to track for productivity and bringing every team member into daily conversations drives hybrid success, but the sustained motivation of team members comes down to autonomy.
In the great remote work shift we saw how teams could carry on with project management from their own independent offices. The newfound familiarity with remote working arrangements has led to sustained productivity improvements, with a 5.8% growth rate in the first quarter of 2021—higher than the annual gains from 2020 and 2019 combined.
This ability to truly get things done in an autonomous environment sheds light on the capabilities of hybrid workers. Balance remote and in-office tasks on a weekly basis requires deciding what the purpose of in-person collaboration should be—a decision that must come from workers themselves.
One model for project management involves teams meeting weekly at a central location for intensive collaborative work, while handling their individual duties largely from home. Others may prefer a fully flexible set up where the office becomes a hub for idea-sharing and water cooler conversations that aren’t fully reproducible online.
Defining the best work arrangement for hybrid workforce solutions depends greatly on the organization, but the strategies can’t solely come from the top-down. Utilizing the wealth of opinions, ideas, and experiences that come from self-reporting decides what can be best handled remotely, and where the gaps remain for bringing people closer together.
Defining Hybrid Culture
What is the role of employees who want to remain fully on-site in a hybrid workplace? While 65% of overall respondents in one survey specifically wanted to remain fully remote, that still leaves a sizable minority who may prefer a traditional approach to work. That’s not to mention the staff who simply need to be on-site to access the right equipment or information needed to do their best work.
Rather than juggling all the different needs of each employee in myriad different ways, a successful hybrid workforce solution is comprehensive. Team members know how to access the right information, devices, or people through their own best practices, no matter where they are or how they’re dialing in. A continuous stream of data and guided communications helps decide iterative improvements, with an adaptability to changes that boost growth and productivity.
The technology to handle this has reached maturity, with Tangoe’s own DaaS and UCaaS offerings providing the technological and telecommunications solutions dispersed teams need. What must be developed in-house is the approach leaders take on the personal level to make sure their employees have the understanding needed to best take advantage of these innovations, in a way that best suits their preferred style of remote, in-person, or hybrid work.