It’s not easy managing or being a member of a hybrid team. By now you should be well aware of the benefits of remote or hybrid work. But through this wave of remote and hybrid work optimism, it’s easy to forget the challenges.
Here we address the top challenges that you will face in a hybrid model and how you can overcome them to your advantage.
A recent Work Trend Index survey found that “41% of employees are considering leaving their current employer this year and 46% say they’re likely to move because they can now work remotely”, so getting it right in your organisation is massively important for you to retain talent.
For a small medium-sized enterprise (SME), or as an early-stage tech startup, you have the advantage of being nimble compared to large organisations - you can adapt quickly. However, even for the most agile companies, there are many risks associated with globally diverse or hybrid work models. For example, failure to maintain or create a work culture can lead to issues with high employee turnover and decreased productivity.
As a leader in tech startups, digital product studio Hiyield has worked with many companies helping them to create bespoke digital trying to tackle this situation, while Perchpeek has been helping the likes of Impala and Gilead Sciences to distribute their workforces globally throughout the pandemic.
We'd like to address some of the top challenges that you will face in a hybrid model and give some strategies for how you can overcome them
1. Management and leadership - compassionate, supportive and flexible
Look, there is no easy way to say this, but senior roles play a huge part in the future of a hybrid team. And what is very important, is for management and leadership to be compassionate, supportive and flexible.
At the end of the day, you want your employees to be productive and do their jobs to the very best of their abilities.
Every employee has their own circumstances. And having a hybrid model comes with a world of new problems that could affect the day-to-day of your employees.
Unfortunately, no one rule fits all.
Being able to truly listen and care for your employees on a case-by-case basis, means that you can offer the right support for each employee.
The needs of your employees will differ from one to another so it is important to be flexible.
What does this mean?
Creating a fair environment for your employees
Some employees are excited about the prospect of hybrid work and are excited to relocate to another country and experience a new culture while working for you, which you are on board with. Whereas, other employees are settled and happy with staying put.
The challenge here is to make sure that your other employees don’t feel left out, or less important. If you are giving some employees the option now to roam the world and settle in the luxurious depths of Rome, Italy, other employees can feel disconnected and undervalued.
Be a leader with compassion.
Although they might not want to do something as drastic as relocating, you can listen to what will make their work-life balance better. Some might want to change their hours, drop a day, or work ninety per cent at home. You name it, everyone has their requirements. And this is the beauty of hybrid work, you can support them to do just that.
So what does this mean for your SME or startup?
Increased trust, productivity and retention.
It’s a win-win.
Here are some tech solutions that can help you address the needs of your employees:
Cafe - figure out where to work from
PerchPeek - an opportunity for you to support your employees to relocate
Officely - The only desk booking tool that lives in Slack
Once I’ve Gone - allows you to store all your important information and make it available to the right people at the right time
Health hero - latest on-demand digital access to bring medical advice from clinical experts to the hands of millions of people no matter where or when they need it
2. Collaborating & learning - the power of micro teams!
At the office, it’s quick and easy to ask a question to your team or eavesdrop on colleagues. Doing this takes organisations up a level, raising the bar of your employee’s expertise. And you guessed it - hybrid work can be a massive blocker to collaboration and learning.
If this is the case, your workforce won’t upskill, and in the long run, you will lose time and money from employees taking a long way around, searching and learning for themselves in silo. Whereas, a simple tap of the shoulder could have sufficed.
Knowledge sharing is powerful to any organisation. But don’t worry, it is possible to overcome this challenge in a hybrid world!
How do you do it?
Well, funnily enough, it’s through the magic of awesome tech and procedures. From the top-down, leaders should encourage a collaborative environment - this can be done through forming micro teams.
When the pandemic hit and they had to go fully remote and the collaborative way of working took a hit. But through quick adaptation, they took it in their stride and used it to their advantage. In particular, they formed what they like to call, ‘micro teams’.
For Hiyield, these micro teams are where employees are grouped into single projects or departments. With micro teams formed, using Slack - an instant messaging platform - they created channels where each team can communicate at the click of a button - it’s the core infrastructure to hybrid collaboration.
There are also lot’s of other collaboration tools that hybrid and remote teams can use too. You have project management tools such as Productive.io - this can power projects from start to finish keeping all information in one place, as well as keeping track of time budgeting and invoicing. Miro is also a great tool for brainstorming ideas. It’s basically a massive virtual whiteboard that people from anywhere can collaborate on at the same time. And finally, the brilliant Trello - a web app where you can manage, track and collaborate on tasks with reminders, attachments, comments and more.
The combination of making clear distinctive teams with the support of web-based tools creates a thriving collaborative work environment at Hiyield.
3. Maintaining and creating a culture
This is hands down one of the harder challenges you will face. Along with your normal responsibilities, culture often gets forgotten. Creating or maintaining culture isn’t as straightforward or obvious as increasing profit margins or sales so can be hard to knuckle down on.
If you have a bad culture, or none at all, your employees can feel undervalued and not part of a team. And there’s no doubt it, their productivity will take a hit. And in the worst-case scenario, you could lose them as an employee and they'll find a business that does have a good culture.
This should not happen.
There is no right or wrong way to do this, and culture is very much an identity of your business. But here are a few pointers for maintaining and creating a good culture:
Video on - it’s easy to get into the habit of turning cameras off at meetings. Leaders and managers should be responsible for having their cameras on at all times, this sets an example for their team. Also, be open with your team and tell them why having cameras on helps culture. Transparency is a great thing.
Emojis - have you received a message that just ends with a full stop. How did that feel? The answer to this - send an appropriate emoji!
Gifs - go one step further than an emoji and send a perfectly formed bespoke gif
Remote Social - a platform that is ‘helping teams around the world create a fist-bump-worthy culture’. Both through games, and even more inclusive experiences such as live drinks-making, cooking workshops or even a 7-Day Mindfulness and Mindset Program. There are loads of awesome experiences to choose from!
Social hours - dedicate time in your team's calendars for a chat (not about work)
4. Tracking performance
This is of course on the minds of any business. Are my employees doing their part?
You want to know that all of the wheels are turning to grow your business and push towards your goals. And to do this, you need to have all departments doing their part.
You don’t want to have one person kicking back watching Netflix and someone else is doing the heavy lifting. A, that isn’t fair, and B, this is wasting money. And of course with hybrid work, it’s a challenge because you don’t want to be putting people under a magnifying glass. And equally, you don’t want people slacking off.
But it’s easier than you think. Here's why.
If you treat your employee with compassion, support, respect, and foster a positive fun work culture (maybe following some of the above culture tips), you undoubtedly get hard-working employees.
However, it’s not unreasonable for employees to keep track of what they are up to. In an agency, it’s a must, as it's vital to see if a project is on budget.
There are lots of brilliant platforms such as Productive that can support both project management and have the function for employees to log their work on timesheets.
Of course, automation is a brilliant way to make things simpler, but even a simple spreadsheet can be a great tool for employees to log their work and for you to track performance.
And once again, don't be afraid to be transparent.
Being hybrid is a game-changer when you get it right
This tide has turned, and right now, talented employees are looking for a hybrid or remote roles. And businesses that lock in the best hybrid systems, processes and culture are going to thrive.
Although there are challenges, there is no doubt that you can overcome them and use a hybrid working model to your advantage.
Are you a tech startup or entrepreneur ready to create a digital product? Get in touch with our friends over Hiyield to make it a reality.