Bretton Putter from CultureGene discusses the challenges of managing a hybrid team following the pandemic.

Company culture has faced more challenges in the last year, than ever before. As organisations start to implement hybrid working models post-pandemic, they will quickly discover that managing a hybrid team is a lot tougher than they thought. In my recent book Own Your Culture I discuss the 9 rules of remote and hybrid working that businesses should follow to create a successful company culture. I’m going to expand on 3 of these points below.

Hybrid teams need to be deliberate about culture

Many organisations could (and often did) take culture for granted before the pandemic. Companies that prided themselves on their culture, were frequently the ones that were leaning on the structured environment of the office. Culture happened by default due to the ease of communication,  synchronous work processes, and osmosis that come with being in close proximity. 

 

When businesses went fully remote last year, they had to quickly re-think their culture. Those businesses whose culture relied heavily on the office environment had to quickly adapt. Now, as hybrid teams are becoming more commonplace, organisations need to be even more deliberate about their culture in order to maintain it.

 

Remote and hybrid teams have to be deliberate about their culture. 

 

Leaders should drive home their organisation’s vision, mission, and values. In remote and hybrid working environments, these can easily be forgotten. However, if successfully communicated they will reinforce:

 

  • Team Morale
  • Employee Engagement
  • Motivation
  • Commitment
  • Loyalty
  • Productivity

If you haven’t defined your vision, mission, and values, then you should think about designing your culture deck.

 

If you don’t know how to create a culture deck for your business, then I would like to provide you with a free downloadable version of my first book Culture Decks Decoded which outlines research and blueprints for getting it right.

Remote-first processes for a hybrid team

 

In any hybrid team, it’s likely that most people will work remotely, at least some of the time. As team members begin returning to the office, those informal meetings and synchronous working practices can start to creep back in. 

 

Remote working processes need to be robust and streamlined enough that they become the default, regardless of location. If these processes start to slip, remote-workers can end up feeling like second-class citizens. 

 

A successful hybrid team needs to develop a remote-first culture. 

 

Hybrid teams can be even more challenging to manage than remote teams. 

 

People working in the office can easily become the beneficiaries of unconscious bias. Therefore, organisations need to pay serious attention to their remote-workers. They must make certain that there are no advantages or disadvantages to working remotely. Here is my list of actionable points for leaders that will ensure the success of their hybrid working model:  

 

  • Treat remote-working as the default way of working
  • Entrench remote-first practices into every process of the business
  • Ensure remote workers feel included, fulfilled, and motivated
  • Establish a hybrid team culture that is experienced by everyone in (so far as possible) the same way. In other words, don’t create second-class citizens 
  • Lead by example. Senior management should work remotely more frequently than the rest of the team to set a precedent for remote-first practices 

 

Organisations need to ‘process-ize’ everything

 

Office-based working environments will, by their nature, form a culture from structure and discipline. Informal and formal communication occurs as a matter of course. When the team is in close proximity, processes and organisation don’t have to be as meticulous as remote processes.

 

By contrast, remote and hybrid teams need processes to be detailed and maintained in order to be able to function effectively. It’s not as easy as simply shouting a question across the office. People need to be briefed, documents circulated and meetings scheduled.

 

Remote and hybrid working is also about trust. Businesses need to remember that it’s not about the hours, it’s about the outcomes, particularly for workers who are not in the office. 

 

Successful hybrid organisations will have clear instructions about what is required from their team, and by what deadline. Remote working has had a generally positive impact on people’s work-life balance, but this also means that everyone’s working schedule isn’t as rigid as it was pre-pandemic. Good leaders will trust their team to manage their time and their responsibilities around an agreed outcome.

Download our ebook on Hybrid Working Best Practices

Key Takeaways 

 

Moving to a hybrid working model will involve a bit of trial and error, but there are certainly processes that can put in place now to make the transition as smooth as possible.

 

  • Organisations need to be deliberate about their hybrid team culture. They should entrench their vision, mission, and values with their team in order to promote morale and productivity. 
  • A successful hybrid team will have a remote-first culture, leading from the top
  • Clearly defined processes and documentation will ensure that remote and office team members can work seamlessly together, regardless of location.

Bretton Putter’s latest book, Own Your Culture, is available on Amazon, and if you would like to know more about implementing a successful hybrid culture in your company, then get in touch with the CultureGene team.

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