By: Anthony Chadwick
Inevitably the Covid 19 pandemic has compelled most businesses to evaluate, and in most cases, restructure how they operate. It is this restructuring that has meant millions of workers have been operating remotely since the pandemic arose. Whilst many are still working in a remote environment, going forward it is likely that many companies will opt for a hybrid approach – giving employee’s the opportunity to work partly from home and partly in the office. As a result, many leaders and managers will have to quickly assess effective ways to manage their hybrid team and what this will look like going forward for their company.
This new hybrid approach for some will disrupt how teams operate and managers will have to re-learn managing a team in this new and innovate way.
So, what are some of the key considerations when it comes to effectively managing your team in the new world of hybrid working?
Build Trust with your team
Organisations and trust go hand in hand. We trust our colleagues to perform the tasks outlined and in turn they trust that their manager and company will be supporting and guide them with the best intentions, and during the pandemic will keep them safe. Solid processes around disinfection, lateral flow testing etc will need to be implemented regularly to ensure employees safety.
However, trust can be difficult to build and maintain, especially in a hybrid team environment, where interactions with team members tend to be less frequent. The key here as a manager or leader is to remind yourself trust takes time, which is built through frequent and valuable interactions.
Be sure to openly communicate with team members on a consistent basis and keep them informed of developments – don’t hide things from them. Also make sure you’re being responsive and reliable. Team members need to know that they can come to you with any concerns / questions and that you’ll respond to them promptly.
As a manager also make sure you’re setting clear expectations. Set clear expectations for each individual team member and be consistent with those expectations over a set period. This can be achieved through regular group and individual meetings, for example.
It’s also important to get personal. It’s difficult to have a trusting relationship with somebody you only know at a surface level, especially if you have brought in new team members throughout the pandemic. So, make sure you’re providing your team members with context both in and outside of the office so they can start to know who’s behind the role.
Being a Role Model for Hybrid Behaviours
In an era of change, people often look to role models where they can learn best-practice and in a team environment this is usually the manager. Re-learning habits and working patterns isn’t easy so as manager it’s your role to set the tone which the team will follow. If done effectively, it’s likely your team will function well and be successful in a hybrid working environment.
One of the best ways to ensure you’re practicing what you preach is by acknowledging that things are different than before and discuss these differences with your team – don’t pretend that things are just the same as before. Also give your team the chance to raise any concerns they may have regarding hybrid working. This will make your team feel heard and offering realistic solutions or alternatives together shows you have their best interest at heart and in turn helps to build trust.
Exhibiting a good work/life balance is also crucial here. If you take a regular lunch break and stick to responding within office hours (where possible) and communicating this with the team, they will feel it is fine to do so as well. Tell them you are unavailable for 30 minutes because you are going for a walk – they might also take exercise as a result. Encouraging healthy boundaries is key to keeping your team motivated and happy.
Structuring Your Own Workload
Managing hybrid teams can bring an enormous amount of time pressure, especially in the beginning. You’ll often find you’re being pulled in multiple directions until a rhythm has been established.
But the key thing to remember here is that managing time effectively is key to ensuring team effectiveness.
Therefore, when it comes to managing hybrid teams, look at how you’re allocating your time daily and take action if you’re finding that the use of your time is skewed. Don’t be afraid to also delegate. If you find that tasks, you’re working on could easily be undertaken by other members of your team, reassign tasks accordingly, this will also help to build that all important trust with team members.
A great way to get control back of your working day is by having team time-outs. Timetable periods of each day when you can simply focus on some of the key tasks you need to accomplish and let the team know you will be ‘off-line’ for a certain period.
When it comes to leading a hybrid team its crucial to recognise that the skills needed to lead a hybrid team are very different than previously, and therefore new skills and approaches will have to be adopted.
Similarly, it’s also important that managers and leaders of organisations recognise the challenges that their management team will be facing in this new world of work and are making sure that investment is going into training and development to help managers navigate hybrid working.
Founder and CVO, The Webinar Vet
Anthony Chadwick, a serial entrepreneur, is the founder and CVO of The Webinar Vet, a world leader in online veterinary education. He is one of the most recognised and respected thought leaders in the UK veterinary sector. Anthony is famous for disrupting the veterinary profession with new and innovative ideas to make life easier for vets and nurses. He is very passionate about providing high quality education and services to veterinary professionals in a very accessible and affordable manner which is also sustainable for the environment.
Anthony founded The Webinar Vet in 2010, when the word webinar was not in the veterinary dictionary. A vet by trade, whilst at an internet conference he spotted a gap in the market to make veterinary education and training more accessible and affordable, via the medium of webinars. Trailblazers in the industry, the company grew very quickly and now has over 75,000 veterinary professionals accessing the training in over 120 countries. Students currently spend a combined annual total of over 200,000 a year training on the site. The Webinar Vet training has reduced travel mileage by several million miles since starting in 2010 with concomitant carbon reduction.