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Could hybrid working damage team dynamics?

Hybrid working damage team dynamics

As many organ­i­sa­tion move to hybrid work­ing, prob­lems may arise that they have not had to deal with before. One prime exam­ple of this is team dynamics. 

Team dynam­ics play a big part in how an organ­i­sa­tion func­tions. If col­leagues don’t com­mu­ni­cate effi­cient­ly and work well togeth­er, prob­lems begin to arise. Poor com­mu­ni­ca­tion leads to mis­takes and delays, strained rela­tion­ships lead to an unwill­ing­ness to ask for or offer help, which can lead to a poor­er qual­i­ty of work produced. 

So strong team dynam­ics are impor­tant, but achiev­ing this can be a chal­lenge, espe­cial­ly when your team isn’t all in one place. 

Dur­ing the pan­dem­ic it was expect­ed that teams who would nor­mal­ly be in an office set­ting togeth­er, would now com­mu­ni­cate over video calls instead. Whilst this might not be the most ide­al sit­u­a­tion, it’s one that most peo­ple were in, they under­stood and made the best of it. 

But now office spaces have opened up again for many, and hybrid work­ing has been imple­ment­ed across many organ­i­sa­tions. Hybrid work­ing is a great solu­tion to allow your staff the ben­e­fits of home and office work­ing, but what effect could it have on teams? 

Depend­ing on the type of hybrid mod­el put in place, it’s quite like­ly that dur­ing cer­tain team meet­ings there will be team mem­bers togeth­er in an office, and team mem­bers work­ing remotely. 

There are a cou­ple of poten­tial prob­lems that could arise from this. Some staff mem­bers could feel left out of the loop if the major­i­ty of their col­leagues are togeth­er in an office whilst they are work­ing remote­ly. The con­ver­sa­tion might not flow as well if some peo­ple are in one room talk­ing to one anoth­er whilst some are join­ing via video or phone dial in. 

An obvi­ous solu­tion to this could be that in your hybrid rules you state that team meet­ings should be held in per­son, so if some­one has a team meet­ing that day they make sure they go into an office. How­ev­er this isn’t pos­si­ble for every­one. Since the start of the pan­dem­ic many organ­i­sa­tions have opened them­selves up to job appli­ca­tions from peo­ple across the coun­try, and even in oth­er countries. 

This makes sense as many organ­i­sa­tions have seen that staff can work well remote­ly, and by restrict­ing appli­cants to a small loca­tion you are unlike­ly to get the best per­son pos­si­ble for the job, espe­cial­ly if it’s a spe­cialised posi­tion. So they allow peo­ple from any loca­tion to apply and pick the per­son to fill the job on mer­it, not loca­tion, assum­ing they will be a remote worker. 

This makes a lot of sense, but it means that it might not be pos­si­ble for every mem­ber of a team to trav­el to an office space for every team meet­ing. So how can you get team dynam­ics back to how they were if not every­one is in an office together? 

The way many peo­ple work has changed, which means team dynam­ics may not ever be the same again at some organ­i­sa­tions. That doesn’t mean you can’t do your best to make teams as in sync as possible. 

Ensure that meet­ing rooms are well equipped to accom­mo­date vir­tu­al join­ers. If there is a mix of peo­ple join­ing a meet­ing vir­tu­al­ly and in per­son, ensure those join­ing vir­tu­al­ly can hear, and be heard clear­ly by every­one. It’s very frus­trat­ing join­ing a call vir­tu­al­ly and bar­ley being able to hear what oth­ers are say­ing, then talk­ing only to not be heard. If hav­ing the right set up in meet­ing rooms isn’t pos­si­ble, it may be bet­ter to ask all mem­bers to join team calls at their desks on sep­a­rate PCs, this way no one feels shut out of the conversation. 

Intro­duce week­ly kick off ses­sions and week­ly wind down ses­sions. If your team doesn’t already have a least a cou­ple of reg­u­lar meet­ings each week, now may be a good time to imple­ment this. There might be a fear from those who are work­ing at home whilst oth­ers are in an office togeth­er that they are miss­ing out on impor­tant infor­ma­tion, either work relat­ed or not. 

A good plan to com­bat this is to hold kick off ses­sions at the start of the week to dis­cuss what projects peo­ple are work­ing on, swap ideas, ask for any help that might be need­ed etc. then have a wind down ses­sion at the end of the week to see how it all went. This allows for every­one to feel in the loop about work goings on. 

As well as cov­er­ing work mat­ters, allow for some time in these ses­sions for a social catch up, find out what every­one did at the week­end, catch up on gen­er­al life news and so on. Whilst it might not seem impor­tant, social con­ver­sa­tions help to build a bet­ter team dynam­ic, and those who are not going into offices with their co-work­ers might feel like they’re not a much a part of the team because they aren’t able to inter­act on a social lev­el with them. 

Allow your staff to give and receive real time feed­back. By giv­ing your staff mem­bers a plat­form on which they can request, receive and give feed­back with their co-work­ers, you are fur­ther open­ing the door to hon­est com­mu­ni­ca­tion. This can val­i­date when some­one is doing a good job, which could oth­er­wise be left unsaid if peo­ple aren’t in the same loca­tion, and call out issues peo­ple need to work on mov­ing forward. 

Ensure that all man­agers are reg­u­lar­ly com­mu­ni­cat­ing with their team, both those who are in the office and remote work­ers, let­ting them know they are equal­ly impor­tant and heard wher­ev­er they are. This can be best achieved by hav­ing set check-in ses­sion around once a month, this way any block­ers / con­cerns can be addressed early.

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