Virtual Teams

Getting people out of their silos as they come back to the office

One of our clients has been analysing the pattern of connections amongst their people over the last year and a half. They found that in general the number of connections within a team had increased as people paid more attention to their own team dynamics. However the density of connections outside of the team to other parts of the organisation had fallen.

In an update to this blog a Microsoft study of 61,000 people has found the same.

This resonates with our own experience in working with teams around the world over the lockdown periods. Leaders have quite naturally put a lot of effort into maintaining the connections with their own people in their own teams.

When we are leading workshops with hybrid teams preparing for the return to the office, we find the same phenomenon. People are thinking about their own individual working preferences and the impact on their immediate team colleagues but are less likely to consider the working patterns of the other key individuals and teams they need to work with.

A risk of this period of remote working is that we have fallen back into some of our historic silos and even created some new ones. It is understandable In the circumstances, but strange that as we have become more comfortable with using virtual meetings technology to connect, we are perhaps connecting more with people we already know, and less with people outside our immediate area of responsibility.

As we emerge from this period, we are going to need to put some effort into reconnecting individuals and teams and breaking these new silos.

A good time to start is when you are considering the pattern of work for your hybrid team. Many organisations are giving a fair amount of flexibility for teams to determine their own patterns. When we do this it is important to take into account the need to overlap with other important interfaces, teams and individuals. This may mean that we need to compromise some of our individual and team flexibility to align with others.

Within your team it can be useful to develop a network map to identify who are the key connections of the team and to evaluate the health of these connections after a period of remote working. It is an exercise we do in our influence without authority training and always brings insights into the health and completeness of our networks.

If you have access to Microsoft analytics (it comes with Microsoft Teams, but it has to be enabled by your IT people) then you can receive regular reports showing, amongst other things, who you are actively collaborating with.

Do you think your team or organisations become more siloed? If so, how are you going to reconnect to the people you need to collaborate with to get things done?

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