The Top Ten Ways You Can Prepare Your Virtual and Hybrid Teams for Success
1) Define What Virtual and Hybrid Means for Your Organization
What do virtual teams or hybrid teams mean for your organization? You will answer questions such as:
- Can my teams be entirely virtual?
- Can some team members work from the office, while others work from home?
- Should all team members be in the office at some point? Will that be one or multiple days each week? How about once a month?
- Can my team members work across time zones? How can I facilitate that process?
- Am I willing to lose good people by not offering options for where and when people can work?
- What if I have team members who want to return to work from the office full-time?
2) Normalize Virtual and Hybrid Teams
If a portion of your entire workforce will be working remotely for the foreseeable future, it is vital for leaders to make sure that team members feel supported from home. If people feel like projects and promotions are preferentially going to those who are in the office, you will likely lose good people.
Similarly, you want to make sure that no matter where your team members are working that you have strong communication and feedback loops so all team members are aligned and up to date.
3) Establish Team Assimilation
At a high level, team assimilation is where a leader works with a third-party facilitator (consultant, HR representative, etc.) to outline goals and uncover answers to questions about how to best move forward with their teams.
Team assimilation helps get the unbiased feedback and input from their team. It allows the team to share their input and be a part of an in-depth discussion on an important topic. The leader would reach out to the third party to set agenda and scope for the discussion, but the facilitator ultimately guides the session.
This should be a time you schedule in advance and for which you plan plenty of time. At some point in the assimilation exercise, leaders will leave the meeting and allow the team to express their needs, concerns, and triumphs. This is an opportunity to have a long, dedicated conversation about how to navigate the new normal. The parts of the team assimilation will include:
- The planning period
- The assimilation meeting
- Time where your team continues the discussion with the leader to answer questions
- Time to establish the follow up cadence
4) Make Sure Teams Have What They Need to Be Successful at Home
The world changed suddenly. Many organizations did not have the time to strategize and prepare people for working from home. If your company's future involves hybrid and virtual work, make sure your teams are resourced with the tools they need to be successful at home. Discuss what went well in the first transition, what could have helped them improve their work, and what other ideas they have for potential future improvements.
5) Develop Strong Communication Strategies
One of the biggest hurdles for your hybrid and virtual teams is communication. If you're not in the same room, your people may struggle to keep up with day-to-day conversations. As leaders, it would be easy to favor those who are in the office with you. Make sure you’re putting strategies in place to develop effective communication with workers - regardless of where they are working from.
Remember, not all communication has to be a Zoom call. The new conference room may be communication tools like Zoom, Slack, and/or Trello.
Ask team members what they prefer for communication tools and cadence, and remember you can continue to adjust together based on what works best for the team.
6) Find Creative Ways to Meet Face-to-Face
For many, the office was their community, and they are feeling the strain of not being able to visit their friends and coworkers. You and your team may be able to meet face-to-face, one-on-one, or in small groups if it is safe, healthy, and geographically possible. Your face time may have to be virtual, but make sure you are regularly communicating with your team members individually and reminding them of their value.
7) Help Teams Establish Effective Cadence That Includes Everyone
The worst thing that could happen to your team's morale is for individuals to feel like they are not included in the daily, weekly, and monthlyCadence of activities. While it may be challenging to touch base with each person, especially if you have team members working from other time zones, it is important to find ways to stay connected that don't exclude some. Establishing ongoing rhythms within your workflow is key as your company navigates the new normal.
8) Establish Fair Expectations
You should have fair expectations for those working remotely and in person. As leaders, you want to make sure that those in the office do not feel unfairly burdened by being present or the virtual team members excluded from innovative collaboration sessions because they are not present.
9) Use Hybrid and Virtual Work as a Recruitment Tool
Flexible work locations and times will likely become the new office incentives. Many people have enjoyed the work-life balance afforded by virtual or hybrid work schedules. Some of your team members may have already moved to different towns or states. If it is at all possible to accommodate hybrid and virtual teams, you can use it to retain your people and recruit the best and brightest from all over the world.
10) Consider Bringing in Additional Consultation
If you are not sure exactly how to navigate the new normal, it can be immeasurably helpful to bring in an objective third party to gather information, observe your goals and resources, and help you develop and implement a strategy to move forward.
TEAMES & CO | Team Assimilation and Consultation
TEAMES & CO has spent a lot of time with organizations and companies throughout the country, helping them navigate the new normal of hybrid teams. TEAMES & CO is a full-service firm that assists teams with everything from planning to execution. Our solutions are tailored to ensure that your growth path outpaces your competition while keeping your clients at the forefront. If you would like more information about how we can help you make the transition to establishing effective hybrid and virtual teams, please reach out to us today.