Hybrid Teams – the best or worst of both?
Hybrid teams are where team members work part of the week from home and part from the office. Many organisations are now focused on introducing new ways of working and most seem to envisage a mixed or hybrid team working environment rather than 100% remote working.
Managed properly a hybrid team should be able to give us the best of both remote working and office-based working. Manage badly, however, it could of course give us the worst of both.
Benefits of hybrid team working
- Higher engagement – a Gallup survey (In 2016) found that engagement increases when people spend more time working remotely but still have some time working in a location with their colleagues. The highest level of engagement happens when people spend three to four days per week working off site.
- More positive perception about development – Gallup found that this group is also the most likely of all employees to strongly agree that their engagement needs related to development are being met. This group is also the most likely of all employees to strongly agree they have opportunities to learn and grow.
- Positive relationships – Perhaps surprisingly, they are also the most likely of all employees to strongly agree that someone at work cares about them as a person, encourages their development and has talked to them about their progress. This group is also the most likely of all employees to strongly agree they have a best friend at work.
Before COVID, research on remote working consistently showed that individuals working from home were more productive.
In a more recent COVID-era survey of more than 12,000 workers in the US, Germany and India, Boston Consulting Group found that productivity can be maintained surprisingly well in a virtual or hybrid work setting
- 75% of employees said that during the first few months of the COVID crisis, they had been able to maintain or improve their perceived productivity on individual tasks (such as analysing data, writing presentations, or executing administrative tasks).
- However the same study found that on collaborative tasks the number was lower, though still more than half—51%—of all respondents said they have been able to maintain or improve their productivity, the rest reported a drop in productivity when it came to these tasks – things like working in teams and interacting with clients. The analysis showed a direct link in this area between productivity and social connection.
The practical implication of this is that when we are working on more collaborative tasks we should prefer to do that on the days when we are in the office if we are working a hybrid team model or, if that’s not possible or we wfh permanently, we need to focus on developing the skills for virtual collaboration more strongly.
If we get it wrong and have to commute into the office to attend pointless meetings where we could have been sent an email instead, then people are going to get pretty dissatisfied.
To make this work we need to improve how we work individually and collectively when working remotely and also focus on what we do collectively when we are together.
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