How to manage hybrid teams: 4 priorities

How can managers lead hybrid teams successfully? Use these priorities to help hybrid work teams thrive
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To attract and retain top talent these days, organizations need to offer remote or  hybrid work options. But flexible work models are not without their challenges.

A successful hybrid work model requires employees to navigate the blurred lines between work and personal time, to stay connected as a virtual team, and to be productive even while working across time zones.

For managers, it also requires a shared definition of what flexible work looks like for your team and an understanding of the right skills to help everyone thrive in this new environment.

[ Want a primer on hybrid work? Read What is a hybrid work model? Read also: Hybrid work: 4 best practices for fairness. ]

How to manage a hybrid team: 4 tips

Here are four core tenets of a successful hybrid work environment that leaders should emphasize:

1. Flexible office hours

The best remote or hybrid teams work as efficiently apart as they do together in the office, but team members don’t necessarily all work during the same set of traditional working hours. Ask employees to determine their weekly schedule and be transparent about sharing their availability with the team – and respecting others’ out-of-office times.

A benefit of remote work is the ability to recruit talent from virtually any location. Unfortunately, different time zones make it challenging to align meetings. To ensure that your geographically dispersed employees feel equally comfortable and integrated into your team’s culture, try to schedule critical team meetings within the 9-5 workday for every time zone you’re working with. While this won’t be possible for teams that span APAC, EMEA, and the Americas, trading off between regions for optimal meeting times contributes to healthy and productive flexible workforce culture.

[ Where is your team's digital transformation work stalling? Get the eBook: What's slowing down your Digital Transformation? 8 questions to ask. ]

2. Data and technology literacy

Hybrid and remote work requires virtual collaboration tools, asynchronous messaging apps, video meeting platforms, and other tools depending on your industry and individual team members’ work focus.

Online project management is a critical technology skill for hybrid teams. This provides visibility into the rest of the team’s workload and priorities and is especially important for new hires. A shared running task list with up-to-date status notations allows team members to move forward while they await feedback on work that is under review. It also provides managers with insight into where blockers – including their own – can be addressed to avoid workflow bottlenecks.

To ensure you are building tech-savvy teams that can hit the ground running when incorporating new team members, build technology training into your organization’s onboarding process. This helps new team members get comfortable with the technology they need and join in seamlessly with your workflow. It can also help reduce shadow IT and application duplication.

[ Want more on remote work? See Hybrid work policy templates: 6 things you need. ]

3. Continuous learning

Because it can take weeks and months to find quality candidates in today’s competitive market, it’s more important than ever to provide cross-skill, reskill, and upskill training. Integrating these training programs into your management plan enables your employees to grow in their careers as well as to transition to new teams and specialties when necessary.

Make continuous learning the expectation for your teams. Offer regular opportunities such as virtual office hours or lunch-and-learn meetings for employees to share what they’ve learned in small groups. These types of casual learning opportunities foster collaboration and push your teams to grow together.

4. A healthy work/life balance

A potential downside to flexible working hours is that team members can let professional time bleed into personal time (and vice versa). Burned-out team members are far less effective than those who take breaks to recuperate and unwind. Establishing “quiet hours” when teams refrain from sending emails and instant messages can help draw the line between time on and time off.

Another way to model a healthy work/life balance in your organization is to hold quarterly retreats dedicated to health and wellness. Whether these involve outdoor activities, social gatherings, or guest speakers, intentional time to reconnect and recharge will positively impact your remote culture.

[ Get exercises and approaches that make disparate teams stronger. Read the digital transformation ebook: Transformation Takes Practice. ]

Adam Riggs
Adam Riggs is Frameable's Chief Executive Officer, and an experienced executive and investor in e-commerce, finance, and media companies. Prior to Frameable, Adam was a Presidential Innovation Fellow at the Treasury Dept. and a subject matter expert at the State Dept. on a variety of open data and knowledge management challenges.