Contributed by Deepali Kishtwal
Deepali Kishtwal is an engineer-turned-freelance writer for B2B SaaS, writing actionable long-form content for marketing, Cybersecurity, and HR-Tech companies. When she’s not writing, she’s engrossed in a cozy murder mystery novel with a cup of hot chocolate!
As the world returns to normal since the Covid-19 pandemic, the expectations around workplaces have changed.
Per McKinsey, 9 out of 10 employers favor the new hybrid work model. They’ve also confirmed that with the right strategy and approach, going hybrid helps increase their productivity and customer satisfaction.
However, employers often find it challenging to manage their geographically distributed hybrid workforces for obvious reasons. Let’s explore those challenges before diving into the best practices for team leaders to manage and lead their hybrid workforces effectively.
Challenges With the Hybrid Work Model
The lack of face-to-face interaction causes several inconveniences when it comes to collaboration, meeting deadlines, managing workload, and many other aspects.
1. Ensuring On-Site Employees Are in Sync With Remote Employees
Naturally, on-site employees have better and faster access to workplace updates than remote employees. Moreover, not being able to co-work directly increases friction in their collaboration and communication, leading to misalignment.
2. Building a Fair Work Environment
Remote employees are often subjected to subconscious bias as managers tend to offer better opportunities to those in sight. Oftentimes, the in-office employees might feel they’re being unfairly called to work in the office while the others get to work from home.
This fosters an unhealthy ‘us vs. them’ mindset in them, causing a rift between both kinds of employees and affecting the workplace environment.
3. Setting Priorities and Tracking Progress
Employers struggle with setting clear goals and expectations, given the absence of live interaction. They have lesser control over tracking a task’s progress and ensuring their team meets deadlines without seeming to be micro-managing.
4. Sourcing and Hiring Top Talents
Being a hybrid team, it’s important that you hire candidates skilled for the responsibilities the role demands—including being self-motivated to function remotely and being reliable to meet deadlines.
5 Best Management Practices to Manage a Hybrid Team
The way you lead your team impacts the future of your workforce. For starters, a well-managed team is much more productive and easier to retain in the long run. Furthermore, considering that about 40% of the global workforce is contemplating a job change, it’s critical to adopt a thoughtful approach to managing hybrid teams.
1. Speed Up Your Employment Process
Job seekers today expect employers to conduct a smooth hiring and onboarding process, which impacts their decision about taking the job. Especially since most of the hiring is done via video conferencing, it has slowed down the process.
What if you could save time spent on candidate screening and develop a standardized approach? You need to make pre-employment assessments a part of your hiring process to narrow down the top candidates.
Pre-employment tests guide hiring managers about a candidate’s knowledge, personality, and cognitive skills for the job and prioritize qualified and serious candidates over spammers and unsuitable candidates.
- Place these assessments at the top of your hiring funnel
- Gauge the range of pre-employment screening the position demands and tailor the tests accordingly
- Validate the test results first by having your existing employees take it
- Decide how much weightage the test carries, among other hiring stages
2. Enforce Data-Driven Recruitment
A bad hire costs up to 30% of the employee’s first-year income, which is alarming considering the odds of hiring an unsuitable candidate amid a large pool of candidates. You need a data-driven approach to skim through the pool and find the right fit for your organization.
Following are the best data-driven recruitment tips you need to implement today:
- Track trends from different job postings
- Analyze where the best talents are coming from
- Observe flaws in each stage of your recruitment process and see where you can improve
- Review the conversion rates in your hiring form and tweak your questions or job description to ensure deserving candidates actually fill it up
- Track important metrics such as the cost per hire, time to hire, source of hire, average candidate scores, job acceptance rates, and so on
- Collect data more efficiently and consider investing in an Applicant Tracking System to streamline the reporting process
3. Manage Business Travels With Ease
The change in the work model demands changes in policies and programs, particularly those concerning business travel. However, being out of sight increases the chances of out-of-policies bookings, which increases travel expenses and causes an unnecessary rift with cancellations, rescheduling, etc.
Business travel platforms such as TravelPerk are a great way to optimize business travel bookings while keeping company policies in check.
A corporate travel program helps you:
- Negotiate corporate rates and get the best deals
- Access detailed reports on expenditures by the team, department, or project
- Maintain compliance with company policies
- Provide a great experience for the person booking the travel and the traveler
- Access real-time support in getting booking-related issues resolved
4. Invest in Team Collaboration Tools
Choosing the right collaboration tools for your remote team will help optimize your productivity and streamline communication.
But before you make your choice, consider these factors:
- The level of security a tool provides—check its policy for data privacy and if it encrypts data-sharing or has spam and phishing controls.
- Integration with a third-party platform, so you don’t have to switch between multiple tools.
- How user-friendly the tool is—if your team won’t find it easy to use, it isn’t adding any value.
Collaboration Tools We Recommend
- Microsoft Teams: Offers smooth experience in creating teams, inviting members to collaborate, and chatting or video calling internally.
- ClickUp: With 10 different view types to choose from, ClickUp is loaded with features for managing multiple projects effectively. Assign tasks, track their progress, or update project status, all in a single dashboard.
- Loom: An easy-to-use screen-capturing tool that comes to your rescue when you need to give a walkthrough to a team member without calling in a Zoom meeting.
- Miro: Turn your ideas into visual representations without relying on boring presentations. It’s easy to integrate with MS teams and many other tools.
5. Hire Fractional Executives
The hybrid work culture has offered organizations the flexibility to hire specialists on a contractual basis or outsource departments entirely if need be. While this trend was largely seen for lower-level positions such as marketers, developers, graphic designers, or accountants, it’s expanding to higher-level executive positions too.
Today, positions like CMOs and CFOs are also filled on a part-time and contractual basis.
- They bring their leadership perspective to the table and help translate an organization’s vision into various verticals.
- Hiring a fractional CMO or CFO is more cost-effective than hiring them full-time. As they only contribute a handful of hours every week or month, it’s easier to pay them for their services.
- Fractional executives are niched specialists who stick to one industry and gain extensive experience in it. This industry-specific expertise helps you solve bigger problems at a deeper level and build hyper-efficient workflows.
3 Best Leadership Practices to Lead an Inclusive Team
Management efficiency is only part of the equation in a leader’s overall success. Employee engagement is a huge factor in an organization’s productivity. Maximizing engagement requires leadership.
In a remote environment, one of the most important skill leaders are learning today is how to lead inclusively. An inclusive leader is one who sees all employees equally and conducts fair management processes that benefit all.
To ensure everyone in your hybrid team feels included, follow these three best practices.
1. Eliminate Bias
Treat everyone equally—be it employees who show up regularly to the office or those who can’t. More importantly, shun the ‘us vs. them’ mindset in employees and help them overcome it. If you hear employees talking about it, help them see it from your perspective and encourage everyone to create a positive work environment.
2. Offer Your Support
For this, you need to take into account what your employees are possibly contending with along with their work—managing their kids’ school, a health issue they or their family member are dealing with, or other obligations that preclude them from joining the office in person.
On the other hand, some employees might be longing to join the office, enjoy a rich work culture and socialize with their co-workers. Understand the mindset of both kinds of employees and respect their choices.
3. Rethink Employee Experience
Employees’ expectations have changed with the hybrid work setup, and they prefer a good work-life balance while feeling like a part of a team. As a manager, offer them a sense of team and help them with the right resources to tackle their tasks.
Incorporate those water cooler chat moments into a hybrid work culture, and bring in the ‘fun’ element.
- Conduct coffee chats where everyone sits and talks about work and life once a week
- Organize interactive games to encourage team-building
- Introduce a reward and recognition program to show your employees appreciation for their work and achievements
- Help your employees set goals that align with your organization’s visions
- Offer them courses and training to upskill and help them advance in their careers
To recap, a good manager in a hybrid workplace:
- Thinks relationally before coming to a conclusion and does not act out of impulsiveness
- Never puts their employees’ mental and physical health in the backseat for tackling the workload
- Is willing to go the extra mile to create a positive work environment for everyone
- Understands the importance of communication in the hybrid work culture and reduces friction to facilitate smoother contact between teams
- Measures performance through outcomes and impact and not the number of hours one puts in
Transitioning from in-office to remote and then a hybrid work model hasn’t been easy. On the bright side, it has allowed us to rethink our systems and processes and optimize them for good. Moreover, we’ve been able to broaden our horizons and find new avenues of collaborating effectively despite the distance.
Embrace this new phase. Adopt the right management approach. Bring in the necessary tools. And keep developing your leadership skills.
We’re excited to see you lead in the year ahead!