It will be essential as we move into the new future of work environment that organizations give their employees the necessary skills to allow them to thrive in the new normal.
Recent developments in technology, coupled with the impact of the COVID crisis have reshaped the way we all work. Nobody knows exactly what the future of work will look like, but most people recognize that organizations are unlikely to replicate the working patterns of the past and, therefore, the need for working effectively in hybrid teams is growing exponentially.
Employees who have historically worked with office-based teams will find themselves working in teams which are much more dispersed. Team members and their leaders are likely to be working partly from an office environment and partly from other locations.
These shifts in working patterns will require everybody to reassess their approach to team working. Team dynamics will change and team members will need to re-learn how to interact with both their leaders and other team members.
When you are working in a team that is part remote and part on site, there are five aspects you need to take special attention to. They are communication, results, relationships, psychological resilience and happiness.
Remote workers rely heavily on communication tools. It is important though that you know how to use each wisely so that most of your time is spent in deep work and the least in meetings. I find the communication pyramid used at Nozbe quite useful.
Furthermore, aiming for asynchronous work will support you reducing the amount of meetings. Before you call someone or schedule a meeting ask yourself this question: How would I deliver this message or move this project forward if no one else on my team were awake? This removes the temptation to interrupt someone without considering other communication modes.
When it comes to hybrid meetings my opinion is clear. Hybrid online meetings don't work well. Period. For those joining remotely the experience is highly unsatisfying. Each participant should join with their own equipment.
The biggest problem is the amount of time spent in too many meetings with too many participants. Aim to reduce the number of meeting, the length of the meeting and the number of participants. Everyone will thank you for it!
Focus on results is obviously important. That's why there is a team. To get results. The amount of hours worked and the availability of your team is not a useful metric anymore. It's better to focus on the rate of tasks that are completed on time, the number of tasks that are completed, quality rating on completed work or feedback from customers. It's also very useful that everyone is transparent about sharing their progress on work and be vocal about it on the communication channel used and meetings. That way the team is informed and you won't worry that they might think you are on Netflix or walking your dog.
When we are not sitting next to one another in the office, getting feedback becomes more critical than ever. There's usually an endemic lack of feedback. If in doubt, go ahead and ask for feedback. Overcommunication is better than too little in this respect.
It can be really difficult to develop or maintain strong connections with your colleagues when you're working remotely. Yet, strong relationships are the foundation for a strong team, no matter whether people are meters or thousands of kilometers apart. Thanks to strong relationships, they can easily collaborate, meet deadlines, surpass expectations, and finally enjoy working together.
Trust is the foundation to any well-functioning cohesive team. Patric Lencioni's pyramid for team effectiveness is quite useful in this respect.
As you can see the basis of the pyramid is trust. A robust basis on trust will help teams get into the mindset and alignment to overcome problems and solve conflicts. From there, they will go into feeling committed, which will bring accountability and at the end results.
Another aspect in close relation to trust is psychological safety, which is the belief that one will not be punished or humiliated for speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns or even mistakes. Our brain is constantly trying to keep us safe, or at least have the feeling that our environment is safe. When we do not get this positive feedback our ability to collaborate and work in a solution oriented manner diminishes dramatically. In order to offer psychological safety we should aim to make deeper connections with our colleagues, dedicate some time to talk about things non-business related and offer and open atmosphere in which is is possible to talk freely about mistakes and the focus is to learn from them.
Working in a hybrid team might sometimes not be easy, especially from the perspective of isolation from the real people and dealing with everyday challenges on your own. Psychological resilience is the ability to mentally or emotionally cope with difficult situations, crisis or stress, and being able to return to the pre-crisis status quickly.
Resilience exists when people use mental and physical elements and behaviors in promoting personal assets and protecting the self from the potential negative effects of stressors.
It's important to make sure that we balance the amount of work we have with our free time, which when working from home can become challenging. So check regularly how much you work, how much you sleep, exercise and how much liquids you drink. Observe what are the activities that help you unplug from work effectively. We need to consciously look for ways to find a balance between work and life. The best solution for that is to be able to set up physical and mental border between these two. Otherwise you will feel like you work non-stop.
Studies show that happiness at work benefits both the employees and organizations. Happier employees are more productive, creative and engaged. This leads to lower absenteeism and lower employee turnover. According to a huge body of research look at how much we can influence our perceived happiness.
Appreciate all good things that happen today. Our brains are neuroplastic, which means we can influence it and we can move our attention from negative thinking into seeing more positive things around us. Have fun together as a team, positive emotions are contagious.
Probably for me the most important aspect that affects perceived happiness is finding purpose in your work. Do you see your work as a mere job for paying the bills, as a career in which you can advance or as a calling that gives you a sense of contribution and is intrinsically rewarding?
Whenever you are in the mode of calling, you are much happier at work. Your work is much more effective, productive, and obviously you are much more creative. Design your work in a way that you can add more 'calling' into it that just the 'career' or just the 'job'.
It is actually secondary how large or small your role is. You are contributing to the larger story unfolding within your life, your business and your organization. When an entire team embraces this type of attitude and belief, work is a lot more rewarding for all.