hybrid team collaboration

No matter what your industry is, the chances are that you’ve been working remotely for more than a year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The situation with the pandemic, however, gets better. As more and more people receive a vaccine, in-person meetings become more common, and companies start to bring their employees from homes to the office.

The pandemic, however, has already changed the way we work. Many employees, managers, and companies, in general, have realized that remote work offers some considerable advantages, including flexibility, decreased operational costs, and better productivity. At the same time, companies slowly return to the traditional workplace setting so it makes sense to expect many organizations to switch to hybrid work environments, with both on-site and remote teams.

The main problem is that few companies are good at hybrid collaboration, and for most organizations, it’s a big challenge. According to research, 71% of HR leaders are more concerned about collaboration now than they were before the pandemic, and the main reason is the new format of the work environment. Quite often, it’s difficult for companies to balance their remote and in-house teams, and remote employees often feel left out from the company’s social life or even promotional opportunities.

Effective teamwork cannot be achieved by simply purchasing tablets and laptops and scheduling virtual meetings. It requires organizations to rethink many of their regular activities, adapting to the hybrid work environment. Leaders should empower and motivate employees to collaborate. Given that accidental interactions rarely occur in the remote setting, it’s important to encourage intentional collaboration and to create the right environment for it.

What Is Hybrid Collaboration?

Many companies that used to be quite skeptical about remote work now understand its benefits. As a result, organizations may want to keep the benefits of remote work while also being able to move some teams back to the office. The solution is a hybrid work environment where employees can work either remotely or from the office, depending on their responsibilities, tasks, and preferences.

On the one hand, hybrid collaboration has a lot in common with traditional collaboration because it has the same objectives and offers the same benefits. On the other hand, hybrid collaboration often turns out to be extremely challenging for organizations that are new to the hybrid work environment. Here are the key features of successful hybrid collaboration.

Leadership and employees

When talking about a hybrid work environment, most people only discuss technology, such as video conferencing software and various collaboration apps. However, if you want to create the right environment for hybrid collaboration in your company, you should keep in mind that any kind of collaboration is more about people than software and technology. Of course, you won’t be able to ensure collaboration without the right tools, but you should also focus on cultivating trust, setting rules, and expectations.

It’s important to ensure a smooth transition to the hybrid work environment. Many employees who switched to a fully remote work environment during the pandemic appreciated its flexibility but some of them also faced challenges they’ve never encountered before. For instance, some employees experienced burnout because they were no longer able to just leave the office and forget about their job for the rest of the day.

Keep in mind that expectations are directly affected by the way leaders approach hybrid work. A lot depends on leaders and the example that they demonstrate. For instance, if leaders are always in the office, employees are unlikely to work from home. In contrast, if leaders set remote meetings and demonstrate the advantages of flexibility in practice, employees will also be more likely to follow their example. Besides, a good practice is setting the rules of engagement based on the company policy.

Policies

Every company should have clear rules regarding what is or isn’t allowed in the work environment, no matter whether it’s a traditional setting or a hybrid workspace. Your employees won’t be able to choose where they should work on different tasks without a sense of clarity and understandable rules of engagement.

For example, you can enable your employees to work from anywhere they want whenever they want, or you may clearly indicate specific days when your employees should work remotely or from the office. The company should decide on the level of flexibility that it can provide and determine the core hours for each team if there are any. It’s also important to establish the expected response time for communication and ensure the security of the hybrid work environment. Obviously, companies should also determine what employees should necessarily be present in the office, and what positions allow for certain degrees of flexibility.

Processes

A hybrid work environment requires organizations to rethink many processes. During the lockdown, many companies continued to work as they used to, and just added some digital elements to their regular processes. To create an effective hybrid workplace, you should formalize digital processes and make sure that they are beneficial for hybrid work.

Collaboration often happens naturally in the traditional office environment because it creates many opportunities for accidental conversations. The reason is that employees often meet in person, they talk after meetings or at the water cooler. To establish effective collaboration in the hybrid environment, you must make sure that different employees and teams have access to the same resources and can easily communicate in the digital format. It’s also important to keep in mind that the success of digital processes depends not only on tools but also on developing digital habits among employees.

Why Is Collaboration Important in the Workplace?

Collaboration is essential for the smart delegation of tasks within your team. With proper collaboration, employees can more effectively combine their knowledge and skills to achieve better results faster. In fact, collaboration and teamwork lay the foundation of the overall success of your company. It can even drive innovation and growth while allowing your team members to focus on their specific tasks.

Gabriella Jackson, an expert who provides writing services reviews, explains it this way, “When I want to see what my competitors are up to, I check the reviews for essay writing services list. People on there are the people I know. Moreover, I know how they got to be the experts they are – through hard work and collaboration. Successful companies know this, and so, they put teamwork in the workplace as a top priority.”

Challenges in Hybrid Collaboration

But while hybrid collaboration has so many benefits, it still requires a lot of effort and resources for proper implementation. In fact, you might have to overcome certain challenges connected to it:

  • Divided In-Office and Remote Employees

Employees working in the office might be misaligned with those working remotely, especially if you have completely different people managing the two groups of employees. Your team members will simply get used to working with specific people which will hamper collaboration during joined meetings.

  • Differences in Employee Experiences:

Directly connected to the previous point, this is something that can further divide your employees. When some are used to spending their time in the office while others enjoy working from home, it might be difficult to get their perspectives to coincide. That being said, this could be a plus if you use these differences to get different perspectives on the matters you discuss during meetings.

  • Conflicting Scheduling and Meetings:

Another issue you may encounter is conflicting scheduling and meetings. You will probably need to make video calls the default format for all your general meetings so that all employees can participate. To avoid problems with scheduling, you can appoint two people who will represent each team (in-office and remote) and discuss all matters related to scheduling to ensure that there are no conflicts.

  • Problems with the Physical Setup:

When it comes to practicalities, some problems can arise with the physical setup as well. You will need to make sure that all your remote employees work in comfortable conditions and have the right equipment. But you will also need to choose to set up your in-office employees either in an actual office or in a coworking space (depending on your budget and other resources).

FAQ

  • What tools and strategies should I use?

Obviously, a hybrid work environment to a large extent depends on the tools that you have. When it comes to collaboration tools, you can choose from among dozens of options for any budget. Some tools are more suitable for large teams, while others offer more benefits for smaller teams. The main thing is to determine what kinds of tools you need. You may need tools for video conferences, cloud solutions for storing data, data management tools, and project management tools.

You may also need to not only choose the right tools but also rethink your project management strategy so that it will fit the hybrid environment. The best approach is to combine elements of traditional project management with agile methodologies. Of course, adopting a hybrid of agile and waterfall can be very difficult, but everything depends on proper planning. This way, you’ll be able to take the best of both worlds.

  • How to organize roles?

When designing your hybrid work environment, you should determine the remote to the in-office ratio that will correspond to the specific features of your organization, and you should clearly understand what employees should be on-site to ensure maximum efficiency. Some roles can provide the desired outcome in a fully remote setting.

Some work can be done remotely or on-site with equally successful results. There is also work that should be done on-site for maximum effectiveness but can also be done remotely as an exception. When assigning roles, you should also talk to employees to determine what environment is most comfortable for them, and where they can be most productive.

  • Can I keep using my current policies?

You might need to reconsider some of your policies, but it doesn’t mean that you should necessarily create all policies from scratch. The main thing is to evaluate your policies in the context of a hybrid work environment. We recommend that you:

  1. Pay particular attention to your cybersecurity policies because all the remote interactions and data operations should be safe.
  2. Make sure that you have an effective password policy.
  3. Back up all the data you work with in any capacity.
  4. Set up a clear system of permissions.
  • Should I redesign the office workspace?

Creating a hybrid work environment isn’t just about having the right tools for remote work. A hybrid work environment is all about flexibility and freedom, and your office workspace should also reflect these principles. Make sure that employees can freely move around and collaborate so that collaboration won’t be possible in the online mode only. You should also keep in mind that your office may be full of people on some days, while on other days, there will only be a few people. Therefore, your office space should be perfectly adapted to all the possible situations.

  • How many days/week should we meet in the office?

This is entirely individual, so you will most likely have to figure it out with your own team. However, there are some general guidelines you can follow. If your remote employees live in the area, you can meet as often as once per week (or even more often). But if many of your remote employees simply can’t visit the office often, such meetings can be held once a month. If you work with remote employees from other countries, you won’t be able to hold such meetings.

Wrapping Up

Many organizations were forced to go remote during the pandemic, which was a big challenge. In fact, 63% of high-growth companies are already using hybrid work models. However, the advantages of remote work also became more obvious, and now many companies realize that the best solution is to combine the elements of the traditional office work environment and remote work. This way, employees can benefit from flexibility, while companies can decrease operational costs and improve productivity.

No matter what your hybrid work environment looks like, the main thing is to ensure collaboration. We recommend that you carefully plan the transition to the hybrid environment to encourage collaboration and make sure that your employees have not only access to the necessary tools but also opportunities for collaboration. Collaboration drives innovation, and it’s one of the key growth factors for modern companies that want to withstand competition.

About the Author

anna medina

Anna is a specialist in different types of writing. She graduated from the Interpreters Department,  but creative writing became her favorite type of work. Now she improves her skills while working as a specialist for the writer review website Best    Writers    Online to assist many students all over the world and has free time for other work. Always she does her best in the posts and articles.

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